To the extent a political revolution is possible at the county level, the Rock County Board has been experiencing one.
It elected last month for the first time in its history a woman, Supervisor Kara Purviance, to serve as chair. She replaces Russ Podzilni, who had held the job since 2008. He’s retired and asserted Purviance, an eighth-grade science teacher at McNeel Intermediate in Beloit, wouldn’t have enough time for the job.
“The job of chair is actually between a 30- and 40-hour job position, and a lot of you don’t realize that,” Podzilni said. “I think Kara would have a hard time with that being a teacher.”
What a bunch of nonsense.
Podzilni speaks for the old guard who cling to the familiar and scoff at change.
Purviance’s election is proof that the old guard’s way of doing business is under threat. In another sign of upheaval, the board plans to consider May 28 a proposal to change committee meeting times from the day to the evening after 4:30 p.m. Whether it passes or not, the proposal has put the old guard on the defensive, arguing to keep daytime meetings.
“It’s going to be a disaster if this takes place,” Podzilni said about the proposed time shift.
Certain committees meet earlier because county staff are more available to attend these meetings, he explained.
If meetings get moved to the evening, it would trigger a chain reaction impossible to stop. The Earth’s axis would begin to wobble, causing a distortion in the planet’s gravitational pull and leading to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, the likes of which would make COVID-19 seem inconsequential.
But, seriously, the board needs a leader such as Purviance who can guide board policy into the 21st century. She, not surprisingly, sees no problem with moving committee meetings to the evenings.
“I’m aware that there have been some concerns raised by Supervisor Podzilni regarding how difficult this would be and how we would have overlapping meetings,” Purviance told The Gazette. “In looking over the meeting times, it would be easy enough to push most of the meetings to a later time that same day without having scheduling conflicts.”
Problem solved, with the Earth’s rotation intact.
Far from being a disaster, evening meeting times would be good for democracy. Purviance noted more than half of county board members hold either part- or full-time jobs and not everyone’s employer is keen to giving their employees time off to attend government meetings.
Evening meetings might also inspire more county residents to run for supervisor seats, which too often feature uncontested races. Anyone who works during the day—which includes the majority of people—will hesitate to seek an office that cannot accommodate a day-job schedule.
If the proposal gets voted down May 28, we encourage Purviance to resurrect it next year. The momentum is clearly on Purviance’s and her supporters’ side. The old guard appears to be in retreat.