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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

McDonell, Erickson unopposed for County Board student districts

Although County Board District 1 candidate Sup. Scott McDonell, District 4, has six years of experience and Chuck Erickson, running for the District 13 seat on the County Board, is a newcomer to local politics, the two have one thing in common: Both are running unopposed for seats representing student districts on the Dane County Board of Supervisors.  




After redistricting, the boundaries of District 13 now encompass a greater student population, including the Southeast dorms, while District 1, consisting mainly of the old District 4, now covers a larger general population. 




McDonell said redistricting will pose a challenge because of the loss of the primarily student-heavy District 8. 




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\There's one less student representative, or at least someone under the age of 40, on the board due to the fact that the city has not been growing as fast as the rest of the county,"" McDonell said. 




Local election primaries will be held Feb. 18 and general elections will occur April 2. 




McDonell, 36, a Madison resident since 1987, said he had no political experience prior to acquiring his seat on the County Board in the spring of '96. After being active with housing cooperatives and working on housing issues, McDonell became interested in running for office.  




""I hadn't really been involved in the student government or county issues at all,"" McDonell said. ""I had to really take a crash course and learn it all really fast."" 




Erickson, 41, ran for the 10th district position on the Board two years ago. He is currently active in the Sierra Club; chairs the Conservation Committee, which, he said, looks at different environmental issues that affect our area; and has been on a task force for the Robert Wood Johnson Project. He said he would also like to become active in resident-tenant relations and assuring buildings are up to code. 




According to McDonell, the county generally handles regional issues, such as the airport, and the city focuses on local issues like city streets. 




""It's kind of a difficult thing for students if you're looking at it from 'How does [the County Board] affect me?' because a lot of the day-to-day stuff, the city handles'alcohol licenses or street improvements'things like that. But the county does the human services things so those are why I focused on funding those services,"" McDonell said. 




McDonell said the three main issues he focuses on and will continue to pursue are transit, sexual assault prevention and tenant rights issues, adding that he is looking into future transportation needs and the possibility of commuter rail or light rail.  




According to McDonell, he would also like to bring more focus to campus issues, particularly sexual assault prevention. 




""The county is funding a lot of sexual prevention efforts on campus right now,"" he said. ""[Promoting Awareness Victim Empowerment] and the Rape Crisis Center get funding from us. ... I've actually, over the years, been increasing that funding and trying to help keep that funding going.""  




Erickson said his main focus is environmental issues, predominantly water infiltration, storm water runoff and groundwater. Erickson said he is also concerned about growth in Dane County and, like McDonell, is interested in a mass transit system.  




As far as student issues are concerned, Erickson said he plans on trying to get acquainted with students new to his district in the fall. 




""If they need anything or they have questions about living in this area or anything related to living in a house, we'll be there to help out,"" Erickson said.

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