21st Century Economic Development For Madison, SD

Ask yourself these questions: How do you define economic development? Would you say that it is the creation of new jobs or new businesses? Is it retaining or expanding the existing businesses in the community? Is it investing in local infrastructure or public works? Is it redistributing public funds to private businesses?

Over the last few years, I have raised concerns about how we fund economic development initiatives in Madison. When we give away public funds to a private corporation, the only way we can truly hold that corporation accountable is by carefully monitoring said corporation. We need to expand oversight and create more transparency. I believe we should also explore “pay for performance” options as we evaluate our overall strategy for economic growth.

I applaud those who serve in public office and recognize that there are compromises and concessions that must be made when working toward the advancement of the community. I also recognize that economic development is complex and is influenced by larger economic trends. However, we as members of this community have a responsibility to keep our public officers honest and must hold any person or organization that takes public funding responsible for their/its actions. Asking tough questions and demanding fair solutions is patriotic and it just makes sense.

The city government should work to expose and eliminate any potential conflicts of interest. A conflict of interest occurs when an individual or organization is involved in multiple interests, one of which could possibly corrupt the motivation for an act in the other. The presence of a conflict of interest is independent from the execution of impropriety. Therefore, a conflict of interest can be discovered and voluntarily defused before any corruption occurs.

The city government also needs to protect itself from participating in crony capitalism. Crony capitalism is a term describing an economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, and so forth. Self-serving friendships and family ties between businessmen and the government influence the economy and society to the extent that it can corrupt public-serving economic and political ideals, even on a local level.

If elected to the City Commission, I promise to:

1. Work to find and eliminate any conflicts of interest and crony capitalism.

2. Require thorough and complete reporting and transparency on use of funds given to any organization or corporation through our yearly city budgeting process.

3. Hold public forums, fairs, and town halls to encourage more cooperation and communication between citizens, government, and business.

If elected to the City Commission, I will work to establish a public town hall and fair to occur on an annual basis. The goal would be to showcase our local organizations, churches, city government, and businesses to the citizens of Madison. We will have a public forum to facilitate discussions between these groups and we will work to find a consensus of opinion on how we continue moving Madison forward in the 21st Century.

I want to encourage more public debate on economic development issues. We cannot be afraid to try new ideas or look at alternative options. I hope that more citizens will step forward in voicing their opinions, attend meetings, and write letters to local leaders. Let’s continue moving Madison forward by promoting open debate and lively discussion on economic topics. Most of all, register to vote, and get to the polls on April 8th.

-Ashley Kenneth Allen