Ann McDonough immersed herself in county government long before taking her seat on the Dubuque County Board of Supervisors.
The Democrat, who was sworn in Jan. 2, has attended the supervisors’ meetings for several months to educate herself while campaigning. Since being elected in November, she has focused on meeting with county department heads and fellow supervisors to ease her transition.
“It’s been wonderful,” she said of that support.
McDonough, of Asbury, and incumbent Jay Wickham topped a four-person field for two seats on the board in November’s election. The three-person board now features only Democrats, with McDonough joining Wickham and Dave Baker.
McDonough takes over a position held by Republican Daryl Klein, whose re-election bid fell short in November. She became the first woman on the board since Klein unseated Democrat Donna Smith in 2010.
Klein, of Rickardsville, was the first Republican to serve on the board in about 60 years. He said Wednesday that he was satisfied with what he helped accomplish during his eight years in office.
“It’s going to be interesting not to have the (insider) insight that I’ve been accustomed to over the past eight years,” he said. “I’m probably going to miss that.”
McDonough’s background includes being a co-owner of Plane Art Designs, president of the charitable McDonough Foundation and an attorney. She also serves on the Clarke University Board of Trustees.
County budgeting will be the most immediate priority for McDonough, as the supervisors must finalize their fiscal year 2020 budget in mid-March. The fiscal year starts July 1.
She said that, in the past few weeks, she was able to work closely with county Budget Director Stella Runde and county department leaders as they build their draft budgets.
“That’s helped me ease into the budget through the eyes of each of the departments and gives me a greater understanding of the pieces of the budget,” she said.
In those meetings, she said, she also has expressed her desire for the county to engage in more long-range planning, beyond just the current budget year.
McDonough said another goal is to see greater public transparency on county business, including revamping the county’s website. She has met with county IT Superintendent Nathan Gilmore on cost-effective ideas for changes.
Klein said Wednesday that he was proud of his work on the board, including the healthy financial position the county has been in for several years. He said he also was involved in hiring several successful county officials, including County Engineer Anthony Bardgett, who has made significant improvements to infrastructure.
Klein expressed some concerns about the lack of longevity on the county board.
Wickham now is the most senior member, having first been appointed to his position in March 2016 after the death of Supervisor Tom Hancock.
That’s why Klein said he offered to be a resource to the county supervisors should they want some background on an issue from before their time.
McDonough said she already has told Klein that she will take him up on that offer to talk about his experience and perspectives.
“That’s perfect,” she said of Klein’s gesture. “Everybody wins from that.”