Friday, June 15, 2007 - 7:03am
Madison - Mayor Dave Cieslewicz today announced the membership of the new Blue Ribbon Committee on Clean Elections. The new group was created to study the issue of public financing for local campaigns and provide recommendations to the Mayor and Common Council.
The Mayor had previously announced that Prof. Ken Mayer, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Political Science Department, would chair the committee. The other committee members announced today are:
• Tony Earl. Earl served as Wisconsin's governor from 1982 - 1986. He has been an active member of Common Cause and the Joyce Foundation and currently is an attorney at Quarles & Brady.
• Bill Kraus. Kraus is chairman emeritus of Kraus Sikes, Inc. (now known as The Guild). He has served as co-chair of Wisconsin Common Cause and as a director of their national chapter.
• Madelyn Leopold. Leopold is an attorney at Boardman, Suhr, Curry & Field and is active in a number of local organizations. She is the granddaughter of environmental activist Aldo Leopold.
• Joel Skornicka. Skornicka served as mayor of the City of Madison from 1979 - 1983. He is a consultant with the Midwest Strategy Group in Madison.
• Judy Olson. Olson is a recently retired alder who represented Madison's near east side. She currently works for Operation Fresh Start.
• Judy Bowser. Bowser is also a former alder who represented a portion of Madison's west side and worked for UW-Madison. She currently serves on the Plan Commission.
"I am a strong supporter of publicly financed campaigns at the Federal and State levels," Cieslewicz said. "Clearly, special interest influence at those levels is rampant and the public finance systems that are in place there are too weak to be very effective. But we've got a chance to do it right at the local level. Given the increasingly expensive nature of local races, I believe it's time for us to explore the possibility of publicly financed City campaigns before things spiral out of control as they have at other levels. The question I'd like the committee to explore is: Is it desirable and possible to create a local public finance system that makes sense and that can head off the problems we see at higher levels of government?
"I am also concerned that increasingly expensive campaigns will keep average citizens from trying for public office. If you're not personally wealthy or capable of raising thousands of dollars, will you simply decide to stay on the sidelines?"
Cieslewicz said he would only support a publicly financed system that would be based on voluntary citizen contributions. He said he would not support general tax support going for this purpose.
The membership of the new committee is subject to confirmation by the Common Council. The Mayor expects the group to start meeting shortly thereafter.
- George Twigg(608) 266-4611