Marathon County: The Case of Uniform Addressing (Case Study)


  • Marathon County articulated a goal to support a growing culture among county administration and elected officials of the value of public engagement, including the importance of public input as part of governance.
  • Three organizational motivations:
    1. to take responsibility for exercising policy discretion (versus “agent of state”)
    2. to appropriately respond to “customer expectations”
    3. to support strategic goal to develop “a communication system with community to improve the public’s understanding of the services provided”
  • Three practical considerations: the county was
    1. faced with increasingly complex policy issues
    2. needed to grow its leadership capacity
    3. was concerned about a disenfranchised electorate.
  • WIPPS, in partnership with the UW-Extension Local Government Center and local Cooperative Extension office, was invited to submit proposal to develop a public engagement training program for the county.
  • Halfway through the training process, a contentious issue around duplicate addressing emerged with various potential solutions. This spurred county leaders to request that training switch to a “live” exercise.