MADISON, Wis. -- When Dane County sheriff Kalvin Barrett announced a deal alongside the county board's Black Caucus two weeks ago to move a long-stalled jail reconstruction project forward, the deal came as a historic milestone between two groups previously in disagreement.
Barrett and board supervisor Dana Pellebon jointly announced a deal that included a litany of expectations for the sheriff's office in exchange for caucus backing to finish funding a gap for a new six-story jail building, a deal that includes the closure of the city-county building jail facility long decried as decrepit and inhumane.
Both Pellebon and Barrett joined For the Record together on Sunday to give a glimpse behind the curtain of how they'd come together to strike a deal -- all starting with a text, a cup of coffee, and a list.
"We sat in a coffee shop and and Sheriff Barrett said, What do I need to do to get to a yes?" Pellebon recalled. "And at that point, I was not prepared to do that."
Barrett emphasized that a mutual respect between the two, a relationship that predated Pellebon's time on the board, helped bring the groups together.
"I think the best part about this process is we can disagree on topics and ideas, but we never disagreed with one another," Barrett said. "I think that's the basis for trust and moving forward."
Pellebon also revealed that board chair Patrick Miles had told her the deal was not ultimately necessary to ensure a majority of votes on the county board to approve the remaining gap in funding: he had the votes, she said. That factor helped motivate her caucus to move forward with the sheriff on a deal that would still promote joint goals of reduced incarceration and enhanced mental health support for inmates.
"This was a really, really tough spot for us to be in," Pellebon acknowledged.
Watch the full interview above.
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