Madison is growing on the edges of the city, such as in District 1. Our neighborhoods’ identities are still developing, and we have been working to build community while embracing our differences. My education, experience and training have focused on working with diverse groups, and I have used that background to foster the strong foundation that is emerging on the southwest side.
As alder, I helped found the now-thriving neighborhood association, and involved residents in city affairs through a leadership team. Together we have provided information on the desired training, programs, and building design for the new employment services center at the site of the former Griff’s Restaurant, organized the first Westfest at Elver Park, and addressed traffic safety issues.
Through monthly office hours for constituents, neighborhood meetings, and community forums, I have learned that we share core values as well as challenges.
Everyone wants to be safe and included, and everyone deserves decent housing, the opportunity to earn a living, and quality of life. I have approached the work of alder from my background in community organizing and restorative justice, although I also have a master’s degree in business administration and teaching experience in special education. I listen. I am always ready to listen and learn more. If we are to honor the richness of our diversity, if we are to consider the voices of those who have not been present at the table where decisions are made, and if we are to build the bridges across our differences that will make for a strong, resilient community, there is no substitute for taking the time to listen.
I am keenly aware that pressing issues at the level of the city impact neighborhoods in different ways, and within neighborhoods, impact residents differently. The city faces population growth, public safety concerns, development challenges, and needs for affordable housing and expanded transit. It is essential to prioritize and address these challenges, while being prudent with property-tax dollars. I sponsored the budget amendment for the new Midtown police station and will continue to support that funding. I will also continue to work with the West District on community policing.
Meanwhile, changes in the broader political landscape are contributing to greater insecurity. Heightened concerns about personal and family safety, ability to access resources, and a climate of fear that compromises well-being were among the reasons more than 2,000 people attended the Know Your Rights forum, which I helped to organize, at the end of January. That work is one expression of my commitment to treating people with civility, respect and dignity. I will continue to work with marginalized residents in District 1, where families are struggling.
I am committed to representing all constituents, to being accessible and responsive, and I embrace the complexity of this in District 1. While Madison has a thriving market in luxury apartments, we have rental housing that is more affordable, as is characteristic of the city’s edges. We must make sure affordable housing is adequate —housing stability is essential to a healthy community. At the same time, we also have more spacious and traditional single-family homes. Though we have fewer businesses than in other parts of the city, these are nevertheless important.
My vision for our district and the city is a safe and healthy place to live, work, learn and play, where diversity is valued and freedom of expression is encouraged and protected. All persons are able to realize their full potential. We protect the beauty of our urban environment and our natural areas.
I am proud of our progress as a community. I am grateful for every hour residents have contributed to dialogue in neighborhood meetings and with city staff. We have made progress in coming together and understanding each other. We have more work to do. I stand on a record of delivering and therefore seek a second term as District 1 alder.