Janesville67.8°

Sheridan holds listening sessions aboard city busses

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JAMES P. LEUTE
March 21, 2009
— For a speaker, Mike Sheridan did an awful lot of listening Friday.

The Assembly speaker and Janesville Democrat held a two-hour listening session aboard busses that covered three different city routes.


In between the starting and stopping, swaying and slinging, Sheridan worked his way up and down the aisles, introducing himself and asking about issues that concerned riders.


Some aboard the busses had no idea who Sheridan was. One woman didn't know what a state legislator does, but was impressed when a Sheridan aide explained that he helped make law in Madison.


Others, however, were happy to have the chance to bend Sheridan's ear on issues ranging from rail service to troubles with the state's unemployment compensation help line.


One man went into extensive detail on his child support situation, while another produced his checkbook and bank statement to show Sheridan how his bank was "embezzling" overdraft fees from him.


Sheridan's morning started at the Janesville Transfer Center, where 15 people rolled out for the Kellogg Avenue route. Sixty percent of those were Sheridan and his aide, city staff—including the bus driver, city council candidates or reporters.


Riders jumping on along the Kellogg, West Court Street or Milton Avenue routes were surprised to see their representative on the bus.


"Must be ‘National Ride A Bus Day,'" one man said as he tried to find an open seat. "This bus has never been this full."


Shortly after the bus wheeled off of West Court onto Crosby Avenue, several opponents of a statewide smoking ban ran through a parking lot at Deano's Westside Pub with signs in opposition.


"It's really nice to get out to the people," Sheridan said after regaining his footing back at the transfer station. "You can have a listening session at the courthouse, but it's neat to get out to the neighborhoods."


In addition to handing out Wisconsin maps, Sheridan's aide Katie Kuznacic made notes along the route for follow-ups.


"There are not a lot of issues that can be resolved on a half-hour bus ride," Sheridan said. "This is more about making a connection with people and following up with them on their issues later."



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