University of Wisconsin-Madison Sophomore Elena Haasl would like to be the next person elected to serve District 5 on the Dane County Board of Supervisors.
“I’m not going to stop because I care deeply about my community,” she said.
Haasl feels determined to make a difference, running in a district inhabited mostly by students. She feels having a student voice is important because a student advocate can elevate the voices of the greater campus community. Haasl’s platform includes working to solve issues of homelessness, equity, mental health services, runoff from lakes and watershed, sexual violence prevention, and increasing student engagement.
“Young voices are always encouraged in politics until they actually decide to step up and run,” Haasl said.
Originally from Beloit, WI, Haasl said her parents have always been very accepting of who she was, supporting her goals and dreams. In high school, she organized a walkout for school after the Parkland Shooting incident in 2018 and helped a family friend campaign for assembly in her district.
Currently, Haasl is an active participant in the broader campus community. She serves as a student ambassador for the Campus Climate and Diversity Committee and a member of the Student Implementation Board for #IAmUW. Haasl also served on the Equity and Inclusion Committee intern with the Associated Students of Madison.
“Because I’m a student, I am always going to be engaged with constituents,” she said.
She encourages other students to become civically engaged, express their viewpoints, and contribute to their communities in whatever way they see fit. Haasl would also like to serve as a resource to fellow students whether at her college or in other schools.
“One that I was really interested in when I was talking to one of the supervisors is the youth services committee,” she said.
Haasl would like to reach out to local high school students, acting as a mentor and understanding the things important to them. She also wants to create a bridge between local government and youth in Dane County.
“I think since I’m closer to someone in high school, I think they might be more comfortable talking to someone about mental health, sexual assault, and things like that,” Haasl said.
Haasl said she would like to hear from a diversity of perspectives. This includes making herself a resource to everyone and expanding more opportunities for historically underrepresented in government.
“As a biracial queer young woman, I think it’s extremely important to shine a light on other perspectives and not just the straight white students,” Haasl said.
She also said she would like to hear ideas and perspectives of those who disagree with her on certain issues. Haasl believes she could help find solutions to issues that benefit all residents especially when it comes to issues like mental health.
She explained that 18-to-22 year-olds are left out of the mental health conversation. Haasl said the district needs mental health expansion to accommodate the needs of residents in the area. She said programs like the Building Bridges School Based Mental Health Program, and the End Deaths by Despair Coalition are examples of great mental health resources Dane County already provides.
“I think creating an emphasis on having culturally competent mental health care providers is important and making sure that it’s accessible,” Haasl said.
This includes supporting survivors of sexual violence. She’s already started looking into prevention efforts in the area such as Dane County Rape Crisis Center’s Game Changers.
Haasl received endorsements from former District 8 Supervisor Avra Reddy and incumbent District 5 Supervisor Hayley Young. She will face Jose Rea in the general election on Tuesday, April 7.