The city should ensure all Madisonians can meet their basic human needs (housing, food, water, transportation), which means we must aggressively take on our racial and economic disparities and poverty. The issues I focus on are all intertwined and overlap but get back to basic human needs and accessible and accountable government. I’ve been working these issues for the past nearly 25 years and will continue to work on them when elected mayor. My record is strong and public, and I’ll work hard to accomplish these goals. In each issue area I have a list of what I have done and what I will do. If you don’t see something you’re looking for, please add your own!
Affordable Housing, Tenants’ Rights & Ending Homelessness
Madison has reached the point where we have more renter households than owner occupied households. This is far from the national average of 64% homeowners. While the national rental vacancy rate is at 7%, Madison’s has been between 2-4% for the past 10 years. A healthy market rate would be 5-6%. Meanwhile, tenants rights have been under attack from the state legislature six different times since 2011. The City of Madison has remained mostly quiet about this assault on tenants, and that has to change. Affordable housing is consistently one of the top issues politicians talk about, and yet they don’t take action to create affordable housing even if the chance arises. Dane County needs 26,000 affordable units. That has to happen. Fair Market Rent went up 13 – 17% in the past year alone. Eight years ago you only needed to make $14.27 to afford a one bedroom apartment, today you need to make $17.77, up 29%. Rents went up 14% in the last year alone. When tenant protections have been eroded and affordable housing is difficult to get into it makes ending homelessness ten times harder. Click here to see what I have done and what I propose we do to address this crisis.
Budgeting that Reflects our Values
A picture says it all. Are these our budgeting priorities?
Each year we look at how much each department is going to increase (or not). It seems over the years some departments have gotten much more than others. Personnel is the largest part of each department budget. The amount of personnel a department has determines how much work they can get done. Among the departments who have lost staff is the Department of Civil Rights – the main department that works on equity issues– and our Housing Operations department – that works with our low income housing. Compare the Police Department to the Community Development Department Are these really our priorities? Do our budgets really reflect our values? What do we do to change this trajectory? Click here to see my ideas.
Open, Transparent, Accessible, Accountable Government
From my own local government geek perspective, this is the number one issue. Without transparent, accessible and accountable government, none of our City’s problems can be fixed, particularly inequity. I’ve been blogging about local government since 2005, so the public has a chance of knowing what is not reported by local media. I blog the upcoming meetings so that people may participate and give input, not just see what happened after the fact. We need meaningful lobbying laws and sunshine on where the money goes in campaign finance as well as statement of interest forms. My list of ideas is long (click here) and many of them are simple , and relatively inexpensive.
Police Department Reform
While its difficult to pull out just one department, the Police Department has the largest growth and highest price tag. Is the funding we give this department doing the things we need it to do? This is also the department that has recently undergone a major study, out of which came excellent ideas on how to move forward. We need to take that OIR report seriously and follow through so that the money we spend is effective. Click here to see my top priorities from the OIR report.
Racial and Economic Justice
Equity has to be more than a buzzword tossed around to make us feel good. We are all horrified by our racial disparities and want to end poverty, but what are we actually doing to change things. Using our equity analysis on small projects and not the largest ones because we don’t have time is just perpetuating the mistakes of the past. Having the staff talk about equity, but not making it a part of every public discussion and public meeting is doing an injustice. We need to put our equity work on steroids and have it fully integrated into everything we do. Click here to see what I have done and what I propose we do to move this work forward.
Being a person who cares deeply about many issues, I can’t fit them all into 5 neat campaign boxes. Here is a list of the other issues I am deeply concerned about:
- Redevelopment projects
- Alliant Energy Center
- Judge Doyle Square
- Oscar Mayer
- Public Market
- City Infrastructure
- The future of our public transportation system
- Water Utility infrastructure and sustainability
- Gun Violence, Downtown Alcohol License Moratorium and Positive Alternative Youth Activities
Click here for further information about where I stand on these issues.