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Michael Ford for Oshkosh City Council

Michael Ford for Oshkosh City Council

Michael Ford for Oshkosh City CouncilMichael Ford for Oshkosh City Council
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Hello

Questions and Answers

As I campaign people are asking me great questions about my positions.  I will share my answers to those questions below so the voters of Oshkosh will know exactly where I stand on the issues that matter to them.

Do you support the city’s use of Tax Incremental Financing (TIF)?

 Yes. TIFs are a powerful economic development tool that are working in Oshkosh. As a member of the Plan Commission I have always asked tough questions and kept a critical eye on the underlying assumptions of proposed TIFs. We must always ask if the project could be done without a TIF, and always be conservative when investing the people’s money in a TIF-funded project.

What is your position on sanctuary cities?

If elected to city council I will respect the basic humanity and fight for the basic dignity of all Oshkosh residents. No Oshkosh resident should live in fear based on their status.  I would support a declaration that makes Oshkosh a sanctuary city.

What are your economic development priorities?

 My top priority is maximizing the quality of life in Oshkosh so that people and businesses want to be here. That means empowering our neighborhoods, maintaining our parks, increasing walk-ability, embracing inclusion and diversity in all we do, and providing top-notch government services. It also means keeping our tax climate favorable to business and residents to ensure Oshkosh is a place where businesses can flourish. I also support GOEDCs activities in providing performance-based loans for entrepreneurs who want to innovate in Oshkosh.   

What are the most critical issues facing Oshkosh?

There are several critical issues, when addressed, that will set Oshkosh up for a prosperous future. 


1) Our racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps. Some will say this is a school district issue, I say no, this is an issue impacting us all.


2) Fall prevention. As part of my day job I had the opportunity to analyze data showing that falls are too prevalent among our senior population, and that individual fear of losing one's home is a critical barrier to solving this public health concern. 


3) Getting development of Oshkosh Ave, Jackson Street, and the Sawdust district right. I have been honored to be on the front lines of these projects through my work on the Plan Commission, and we must continue to make smart decisions that balance the need to attract development with the long-term needs of our community. 


4) Weaving diversity and inclusion into the fabric of our government. Oshkosh is getting more diverse, and we must embrace that diversity as the asset that it is.


5) Collective impact. There are so many great organizations doing great things to make Oshkosh a better place. The city can play a strong role in measuring, and facilitating, the collective impact of our public, nonprofit, and private sectors.

How much debt is acceptable?

Like a home mortgage or car loan in your personal life, some debt is necessary in government.  However, we must be careful about 1) Our total debt-service costs, and 2) The beneficiaries of any debt we take out.  As a member of the city Long-Range Finance Committee I helped craft a debt policy that limits our total debt to a manageable level, and ensures the council takes into account social equity when taking on new debt.

Would you support a ban on conversion therapy in Oshkosh?

Yes. I support, and will advocate for such a ban.

What is your position on special assessments?

As a member of the City's Long-Range Finance Committee I am supportive of the body's work on replacing special assessments with a more equitable alternative.  I support the latest monthly fee proposal,  but would also be supportive of more categories depending on factors such as road impact and parcel usage.  

Would you raise property taxes?

That is a bit of a trick question as our property tax levy is largely a function of the state cap linking revenue increases to increases in assessed value.  But, I believe that to be competitive we must maintain a favorable tax climate for business and residents.   Currently our property taxes are comparable to peer cities like Appleton.  I would not allow taxes to get to a point where we compare poorly to our peer cities.  We need a strong tax base, and that takes policies that attract business and residents.  

What are three things the city can do better?

1) As the president of the Millers Bay Neighborhood Association, I have seen firsthand how neighborhoods can win grants, form great plans, but have difficulty with implementation. If elected I will make implementation of neighborhood-driven projects a priority.  


2) I also think we can improve the transparency of our government by taking a more proactive approach. Specifically, I will work to create a performance dashboard that gives residents up-to-date performance and budgeting information in an accessible format that empowers us all to know what our government is doing, why they are doing it, and whether they are doing it well.


3) I am guilty of being a bit of a fiscal hawk. If elected I would support a review of all of Oshkosh’s contracts with 3rd parties to ensure we are getting the most for our money

Do you support collective bargaining? Why or why not?

  I do support collective bargaining. I believe employees have a right to advocate for themselves, and if they chose to do that via collective bargaining that is their right.

Do you support “just cause” (i.e. no one can be disciplined or terminated without a reason)?

I support just cause as the standard for employee discipline. I think an exception must be made when resource-based layoffs are necessary. But when that occurs it must be done in a fair and transparent fashion.

Do you support paying all employees of the municipality a living wage?

Yes. The city has a moral responsibility to ensure our employees make a living wage. We also have a responsibility to vet 3rd parties to ensure they too pay their employees a living wage. We do need to our homework to be sure we are in agreement about what constitutes a living wage and apply the standard fairly. 

What is your opinion of current wage and benefit packages for municipal employees?

I think the current situation is satisfactory, but we must be vigilant about ensuring we pay competitively to attract and retain talent. This challenge become greater given state funding freezes.

Do you support or oppose the privatization or contracting out of services?

 I support a review of our contracts with 3rd parties, and support the use of 3rd parties for provision of government services when it would improve performance and save money. All things equal I prefer to keep the capacity within government, but recognize contracting out can be beneficial. 

Do you support the funding of public transit in our community?

Yes.

What do you believe are the three major issues that the City will deal with in the next 2 years?

  1) Our racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps. Some will say this is a school district issue, I say no, this is an issue impacting us all. It signifies a challenge we face as a community in providing opportunities for all.


2) Getting development of Oshkosh Ave, Jackson Street, and the Sawdust district right. I have been honored to be on the front lines of these projects through my work on the Plan Commission, and we must continue to make smart decisions that balance the need to attract development with the long-term needs of our community. 


3) State revenue freeze. The capacity for us to provide quality services to Oshkosh residents is threatened by state limits on our revenue generation capacity. We will need to find ways to cope with this issue.

Do you support collective bargaining in WI?

If elected I would support but the restoration of collective bargaining rights, but not the full repeal of Act 10. The problem with the full repeal is that local government budgets cannot withstand the impact of once again contributing to employee healthcare and retirement costs at pre-Act 10 levels. I think the reality is we can restore collective bargaining, but not the old financial reality without putting the public at risk. I have conducted research on this issue as part of my day job, and continue to research the negative impact Act 10 has had on employee morale. 

What have you done to show support of the fight against so called “right to work” legislation in WI?

I posted publicly about my opposition to right to work legislation at the time of its enactment and would support a repeal.