July 23, 2018
County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan, 608.333-2285
County Board

Launches six-month initiative to develop plan to increase civic engagement



Looking to hear from those who otherwise might not participate in the public process, the Dane County Board is launching a creative and far-reaching community engagement plan.


Dubbed “Engage Dane” the effort is aimed at improving communication between elected officials and local residents -- including people of color, lower-income residents, seniors and those living in rural areas. The idea is to reach out to those who otherwise don't follow the workings of local government or get involved.


"Community engagement is an important component of our work," says Dane County Board Chair Corrigan (District 26, Middleton). "It is my hope that improved communication with Dane County residents will help build ongoing relationships and will help create a community vision that better informs our decision-making process.  


Over the next six months, the County Board, in collaboration with members of the broader community, will work through four major phases to develop a plan to gather feedback and implement innovative approaches to reaching more residents.


It has also launched an Engage Dane Website (https://board.countyofdane.com/Engage-Dane) where residents can follow the progress of the initiative and offer their own suggestions.


For the project, Corrigan has put together a team that includes County Board Supervisors Paul Nelson (District 9, far West Madison and Middleton); Kelly Danner (District 11, near West Madison) Yogesh Chawla (District 6, near East Madison) Tanya Buckingham (District 24, southeast Madison and Monona) along with Board and Extension staff. The group will work together to formalize the County Board’s civic engagement efforts and develop a plan and toolkit to support supervisors going forward.   


"The Board has already been working hard to increase the transparency and accessibility of our work," says Supervisor Nelson. "My hope is we can take things to the next level by developing a plan to encourage more civic participation and perhaps light a fire under individuals who never thought they would get involved."


Phase I of Engage Dane is already underway and in the coming weeks the team will hold discussions with the Latino Support Network of Dane County or "LaSup" and the City-County Homeless Issues Committee. The team is also scheduling visits to the Beacon homeless day shelter, a senior center and setting up meeting with groups including the Madison Network of Black Professionals and the Dane County Towns Association.


Phase II involves developing a draft plan based on community input.


Phase III calls for reviewing the draft plan with interested community members and the full County Board.


Phase IV will include a pilot implementation of the proposal in advance of a complete roll-out of the Engage Dane initiative.


“Local government makes decisions and delivers services that directly impact people’s lives,” says Corrigan. “Your voice matters because your representative is also your neighbor. You can contact them directly whether with a phone call or email and generally get a personal response in a timely manner.”


About the County Board of Supervisors:


The 37-member, nonpartisan Dane County Board of Supervisors represents the needs and welfare of all residents of Dane County, Wisconsin, and sets policy for County operations in the areas of human needs, infrastructure, criminal justice, the environment and County finance.  The County Board meets twice monthly at 7 p.m. in Room 201 of the City-County Building.