Mary Burke Brings Both Passion and Success to the Race for Governor There is only one candidate in the race for governor who has experience creating jobs in the private sector. Only one candidate can say they’ve started their own business, met a payroll, and balanced a budget in the private sector. And only one candidate can say they’ve used private sector solutions to help achieve 4.8% unemployment in the state of Wisconsin. That candidate is Mary Burke.
Burke, a Harvard Business Sch-ool graduate, joined her family’s company Trek Bicycle in the late 1990s as Director of European Operations. Burke led the company’s expansion abroad, opening four different offices in her first year and three more over the next two. Burke’s approach to business is pragmatic and data driven; she makes decisions based on careful analysis. Her colleagues from the private sector will tell you that her focus on efficiency and accountability is a big part of her professional success. Burke helped turn Trek into a global leader in the biking industry, increasing sales in Europe from $3 million a year to $50 million a year and helping to create good paying jobs in Wisconsin.
Today, Trek purchases over $40 million in goods and services from Wisconsin businesses, both large and small. Burke went on to found Trek’s Strategic Planning and Forecasting Department. As the head of the department for nearly a decade, it was her job to focus every day on improving the company’s bottom line. When Former Governor Jim Doyle asked her to run the Department of Commerce in 2005, Burke used the same approach she had in the private sector to build success in Wisconsin’s public sector. She employed the lean manufacturing principles that made Trek a success to reduce waste and improve efficiency. There was a 4.8% unemployment rate during her tenure as Secretary--down significantly from the current 6.5% rate--and 84,000 more jobs than there are in the state today. Burke has been personally committed to giving back to Wisconsin and her community for the better part of fifteen years. A loyal supporter of the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County, Burke has lent her business savvy and expertise to get the organization on solid financial ground and extend crucial programs to Madison youth.
Burke has sat on the board of directors of several area non-profits and even started an innovative public-private partnership to close the minority academic achievement gap called AVID/TOPS. AVID/TOPS grew out of Burke’s passion for education and her strong view that everyone should have the opportunity to be successful in life. The program is entering its fourth year, and all signs show it is improving college readiness for participating students. Burke’s passion and commitment to serving the state are what make her an exciting candidate, but it’s her broad range of experience and high levels of achievement that will make her an effective governor.