The State Journal editorial board met with candidates in every contested race for Madison City Council and recommends these five leaders in Tuesday’s spring election.
David Handowski doesn’t want to play politics on the City Council. He’s pragmatic and focused on getting things done for this Far West Side district. That includes opening a Midtown police station on schedule, encouraging smart development with fewer hoops at City Hall, protecting parks and improving roads. Handowski, who is Hispanic, says he wants to build bridges in his district and on the council. The retired IT business professional has helped lead neighborhood and homeowners associations. He’s eager and well prepared to serve at a higher level. His opponent, Ald. Barbara Harrington-McKinney, has been a leader in pushing for body cameras on police officers, which we appreciate. But Handowski supports cop cameras, too. He also would be more careful spending tax dollars and not stand in the way of important developments, including affordable housing projects.
Zach Wood, 23, half jokes that he’s getting a little old for his campus-area district. But his younger constituents definitely should stick with this engaged, level-headed and well-informed representative on the City Council for a second term. Wood wants to encourage more affordable housing for college students who don’t qualify for rent assistance. He understands allowing more density Downtown and streamlining the city’s approval process for development projects will help meet that goal. Wood’s opposition to body cameras on city police is odd because UW-Madison police are successfully using the devices. Nonetheless, Wood is the clear choice over John Terry, Jr., who hoped to highlight homelessness but hasn’t mounted a strong challenge.
Maurice Cheeks, a technology company executive, is intently focused on the city’s future. He describes Madison as a former college town transitioning into a metropolitan city with a lot of excitement but also growing pains. Cheeks wants to encourage smart development and upward mobility for all residents, including the homeless. His diverse district includes the wealth of Nakoma and the poverty of Allied Drive. Cheeks helped bring low-cost internet to Allied and is working with the city to lure a much-needed grocery store. Cheeks is a calming and thoughtful presence at city meetings who helps build consensus. He deserves a third term. His challenger, Steve Fitzsimmons, is earnest but running a one-issue campaign touting support for police. That misses many of the complex and pressing issues facing the West and Southwest sides.
Bradley Campbell has done his homework and is ready to serve this West Side district with knowledge and enthusiasm. An experienced public policy worker, Campbell understands city housing, transportation, workforce and environmental issues well. He wants the city to do more to encourage entrepreneurs and collaborate with schools. He favors the transparency of body cameras on police officers to improve behavior and build public trust. Campbell’s opponent for the open seat, Arvina Martin, is smart and capable, too. But Campbell is better prepared.
Sheri Carter, a lifelong Madison resident, knows her South Side district as well as just about anybody. And after only one term on the council, she is becoming a strong and effective voice for her constituents at City Hall. Carter is prioritizing employment, education and reducing homelessness. She supports body cameras on police to improve “safety for everyone.” She is eager for more development in her district but will be careful not to “displace and outprice” people. Carter’s opponent, Jose Eladio Rea, a recent college grad, is impressive, too. But Carter’s experience should earn her re-election.