Former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk wasted no time hitting the campaign trail last week, which included a brief stop in Rhinelander on Jan. 21.
Falk, the former executive of Dane County, officially announced her intention to run against Gov. Scott Walker in a probable recall election this summer. During her visit, Falk took the time to highlight her more than 30-year tenure working in government, touching on several issues likely to be at the forefront of the campaign.
“I’m doing this because I love Wisconsin,” said Falk when asked why she intended to run against the embattled current governor. “I respect the more than one million people that took the opportunity to act, and this is my way of showing that.”
During her media availability Saturday afternoon at the WXPR Public Radio studios, Falk focused on her experience in Dane County, where she was elected three times as Dane County executive, making her the longest serving executive in the county’s history and the second longest in the state’s history. She also discussed her three decades in public service as an environmental advocate.
“I believe I have the know-how and experience the right the wrongs that Scott Walker has leveled on this state,” said Falk.
Falk also discussed the mining bill pending in the state Legislature, which aims to decrease current Department of Natural Resources regulations and streamline the public hearing process for proposed mining projects. She said the current regulations, which she was largely responsible for drafting during her time as an environmental lawyer, are sufficient and should not be changed.
“What we have is working and it keeps our environment safe,” said Falk. “We’ve had several mining projects in the state in the past 20 years that have been very successful operating under these regulations. Weakening the laws can hurt our ability to have a fair discussion about the application process.”
Falk also spoke to her experience in the Legislature, and said while it has never been an easy process to work with, she has noticed a few differences in today’s political culture.
“There used to be civility, but that has been drowned out,” Falk said. “There are many people that want to be respectful, but it’s hard for them to put their foot forward and find a compromise.”
Falk decided to begin touring the state soon after protesters turned in one million signatures to trigger a recall election for Gov. Scott Walker’s seat. She said she wanted to come to the Northwoods, as she considered northern Wisconsin the “key to winning this election.”
“A lot of people have stood up and said they will not allow Scott Walker to harm this state anymore,” said Falk. “Many of those people are from northern Wisconsin. They are who this movement is really for.”
Falk, who has a reputation as a staunchly liberal progressive, said she didn’t believe that voting record was in the “extreme” category. In fact, she said it was quite the opposite.
“On social issues, I’d describe myself as a progressive liberal, but when it comes to budgets, I am very much a fiscal conservative,” she said. “That statement can be proved by the budgets I authored in Dane County.”
Falk said that while she didn’t know if anyone else would declare their intentions to run, she said former congressman Dave Obey has told her he would not be running.
Editor Craig Mandli is available at firstname.lastname@example.org.