One of the things I’m discover knocking on doors, is the impact I made during my 4 years on Janesville City Council. In one neighborhood, residents were still happy about my vote against the sand and gravel mine. Other voters appreciated that I voted against ending public discussion and rushing to vote on a massive project after the residents were given 4 days to consider it; yet others appreciated my stand to keep our city swimming pools open for the residents to use, when the council looked to save a few dollars by voting to close the pools earlier in the day. Naturally, when the heatwave came about, the council had to reconsider this decision when residents showed up at the council meeting in swim wear.
What I’m realizing is that decisions that I made each and every council meeting, did not disappear, but their impact continues to this day. From where I sat, I would look at each situation, ask all the questions I could, make the best judgment I could with the information provided, and move on. Yet to the people who were affected by these decisions, a ruling by the City Council was a big deal. they won’t soon forget.
After a while, it became impossible to remember each decision and vote because every two weeks, there would be a new “hot potato” issue that would land in front of the council, and one of the things that made serving on the council so enjoyable, is my ability to let go. Once the decision is made and the vote is taken, safe for a handful of issues, I felt that I did what I could, and it was time to move on to the next item on the agenda.
Now, that I am running for Assembly, the results and the impact of those choices are coming back to me, and for the most part I’m very gratified to see that the difference I made was positive. I should say that there was that one time when a person literally asked me to get off of his property. I asked “why” and it turned out that at some point I voted against a settlement over a lawsuit that was brought by this person against the city. Considering that as far as I can remember, every settlement vote – and there were a few – was unanimous, I can’t say that I felt particularly singled out; it’s just that this person was vocal about his unhappiness with the outcome. Though I still feel it was the right decision, it’s his right, and were I in his shoes, I would probably feel the same way he does.
Yet when it came to issues that affected groups of residents, the feedback I am receiving on the doorsteps, has been overwhelmingly positive. Considering that frequently I had to learn as much as I could about each issue when it would come up in front of the council, it really feels good. I won’t lie, there is a string that’s pulled in my heart about the fact that I chose to end my service on the Council. I enjoyed pouring myself into every issue, from a possible revocation of a liquor license to the largest economic development projects. In the end, these doorstep conversations remind me of the valuable lessons I learned, the deep satisfaction of serving the public, and the lessons which will be – with your help – so useful to me and my district, in Madison.