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Wisconsin State Journal (copy)

Dane County Sup. Al Matano, a longtime representative of District 11, is facing a challenge in the April 3 election from Kelly Danner, who has not held elected office but is not a newcomer to public service. (I) indicates incumbent.

Kelly Danner

Kelly Danner

Kelly Danner

Age: 29

Address: 3553 Heather Crest

Family: Partner, Logan Rathjen

Job: Practice manager for an equine veterinary clinic

Previous elected office: None

Other public service: Serve on the Youth Commission for Dane County; chair the Platform and Resolutions Committee for the Dane County Democratic Party; volunteer with therapy for children with disabilities with Three Gaits; foster dogs needing physical or behavioral rehabilitation with Fetch WI Rescue; volunteer with our neighborhood association; and serve as a conversation partner for Wisconsin English as a Second Language Institute.

Education: B.A. from the College of William and Mary, women’s studies and art history.

Al Matano

Al Matano

Al Matano (I)

Age: 61

Address: 3745 Ross St.

Family: Not sure if the current romantic partner wants to be a political figure.

Job: Budget analyst, Wisconsin Medicaid program

Previous elected office: Dane County Board, April 2000 to present

Other public service: Dane County Housing Authority, 1996 to 2000. Longtime activist in Sierra Club.

Education: B.A. in political science and economics, cum laude, State University College at Buffalo, New York. Juris Doctor, College of William and Mary, 1983. Admitted to practice in Wisconsin and New York


What makes you a good choice for the Dane County Board?

Danner: I am a hard-working, collaborative, and research/solution-oriented leader, and all of my professional, personal and community service experience positions me to be particularly effective as Dane County supervisor for District 11. I am an effective leader, work extensively with rural Dane County, and have varied community experience that gives me important perspective on the needs of our neighbors.

Matano: I’ve been a strong representative, protecting our county in a hostile state climate, and pushing for better, including in fighting racial disparities. I’ve led efforts to hold Enbridge accountable for pipeline spills, questioned unprecedented jail spending, and furthered work on sustainable, multi-modal transit. A year-round bicycle commuter, animal lover, and pro bono attorney for the homeless, I contribute important perspective.

If elected, what would be your priorities?

Danner: I believe my values and priorities are reflective of the district as a whole. I will prioritize the safety net, work on environmental initiatives, and increase citizen engagement by improving responsiveness and communication. Regarding the safety net, I’d like to focus on mental health services, youth care, and public health, with an eye toward reducing racial inequities.

Matano: Transit has a significant impact on equity and our environment. I will continue efforts with the Transportation Planning Board, currently focused on Bus Rapid Transit, and keep up the unglamorous work of assuring zoning and land-use issues are decided democratically. Alternatives to incarceration, and adequate mental health services including treatment for addiction are also top priorities.

What do you think the county is doing well, and what could the county be doing better?

Danner: The county spends a lot of time and resources on environmental initiatives, and I’m looking forward to partnering with people already doing that work to assist and expand the scope of it. We should improve communication with the public, and coordination of care in our human services department.

Matano: The Beacon opened to serve homeless county residents, and we funded six affordable housing projects in 2017. Still, people suffer — and inequitably — from intersecting problems of homelessness, criminal justice and mental health. I intend to strive for criminal justice reform, refocusing on addiction rehabilitation, and mental health services. With so much unfinished, I voted “no” on a new jail.


Shelley K. Mesch is a general assignment reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal. She earned a degree in journalism from DePaul University.