Madison is the most dynamic, progressive city in the state. But too many politicians are more interested in talking to themselves than solving problems for all of us. As a city we are what we do—not just what we say. Three principles define my vision for Madison:
Equity is a moral duty. Madison can’t leave anyone behind as it moves ahead. All residents need access to opportunity, and the city must explore new ways to ensure it. I believe that everyone, not just those with the greatest wealth, should drive city policy.
Our economy depends on a healthy environment. Our success is tied to our ability to tackle climate change, and keep our air and water clean. I am ready to lead the community to 100% renewable energy, and our lakes free of dangerous algal blooms.
Safe, vibrant neighborhoods inspire the best in all of us. Our quality of life improves with walkable neighborhoods, affordable housing, and convenient transit. I am determined to find new answers to persistent challenges.
Together, let’s move forward with ambition, creativity and common purpose.
The cost of housing is high in Madison. And not just for new families and young professionals. Seniors on fixed incomes struggle to keep up with increases in taxes as a result of rising assessment.
The City supporting new homes is essential to making housing affordable for many. Madison can make it easier to add housing choices while we maintain the character of the city. Policies that encourage new models like “tiny homes”, support first-time homeowners, rehabilitate rental properties, and expand green homes through Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing should be a priority. We should also refocus TIF on affordable housing.
To do any of it, we must engage the community in a dialogue around the need to create spaces for more people. Madison is already changing. Our goal is to ensure Madison changes for the good of all, not the few.
Racial & Social Equity
Equity is personal to me. I know what it feels like to be the only person of color in the room. And I worry that my own daughter, who has a disability, will be marginalized, ignored or abused.
My administration will reflect diverse perspectives that make up Madison. I will ask private sector leaders to commit to the same in board rooms across the region. There is opportunity to work with the schools to engage young leaders of all backgrounds to weigh in on city policy.
The city can also support efforts like DreamUp Wisconsin to identify new opportunities to shrink economic disparities.
Under my leadership the Racial Equity & Social Justice Initiative (RESJI) toolkit will be implemented across city processes and committees.
The bus is not just an “option” for many people. It is a necessity. Many people can’t afford a car. Others aren’t able to drive because of age, disability or medical concerns. We need to look at our transit system as an extension of our roads, not as alternatives to cars. Metro has to be for everyone.
It can take hours to travel by bus across town for school or a job. And it can be difficult to use Metro at all if you work at a restaurant that closes late. People of color and people of modest means are disproportionately impacted. Sadly, state and federal government aren’t likely to help anytime soon.
In recent years, we have not added the space to significantly increase our bus fleet. Our “bus barn” remains inadequate to meet growing transit needs.
I support developing a Bus Rapid Transit system and Transit Oriented Development as a long term strategy. In the short term, we should explore design changes to better accommodate the needs of those who rely on transit most.
As mayor I will establish a transit equity council to imagine a transit system that works for everyone. I will explore options to create fare-free or extended service zones that compensate for slow service, add service options and drive investment toward areas that need it most.
We must continue to strive for the provision of high quality and efficient services to all communities. When and wherever possible, we should seek cooperative agreements with the county and other municipalities to avoid duplication.
We count on our municipal services for good streets that are clear of snow in the winter. We depend on trash that is removed promptly. Great libraries that will reach into every neighborhood to make their riches available for everyone are part of what make this city wonderful.
Many of the services that are most critical- water and sewer- are the least visible. But we will continue to provide those safe and affordable services to all.
I bike to work almost every day. Walkable, bikeable streets are good for our health and for the economy. It should be a safe and easy option for everyone who wants to ride. But low-income neighborhoods and communities of color have been left behind.
Every neighborhood in Madison should have streets that are safe for cycling and walking for everyone from commuters, weekend riders and kids riding bikes (or unicycles!) to school. Pedestrian and cyclist safety near schools and parks, in particular, has to be a priority.
Green Energy and Green Jobs
Madison must respond with urgency and imagination to climate change. Under my leadership as chair of the Sustainable Madison Committee, the city committed to 100% renewable energy.
City government must reach that goal by no later than 2030. Our biggest opportunities are greening our transit system, investing in energy efficiency and expanding renewables in the city. We can also support MG&E’s transition from coal and natural gas to carbon-free energy.
Offering carbon-free transportation options-is part of the path to a carbon-free community. So is expanding the county’s PACE program to residences in Madison.
We should use this opportunity to support training and access to green jobs for people able, and interested in building a green infrastructure in Madison, but who may need a helping hand.
Climate Change and Infrastructure
For years, climate scientists have predicted the likelihood of catastrophic flooding in Madison. There are engineering solutions to manage some, but only some, of the increasingly frequent deluges. Stormwater management will require costly projects but should be a priority. Lowering lake levels is only part of any solution. Our biggest challenge is leadership with the foresight and political courage to act with urgency and address the impacts of climate change before the next catastrophic climate event.
Homelessness is a national and local problem. A Housing first approach is promising, but the limits of housing availability, and transient nature of many homeless people make the issue particularly challenging.
City, and county agencies must tightly coordinate to adequately manage the situation. To tackle homelessness, we have to encourage more housing and more connectivity between that housing and needed services.
Creativity, and a commitment to collaborate are essential to confronting the challenge. But if we do take it on together, many advocates for homelessness believe we can cut the number of chronically homeless--those experiencing homelessness for more than a year--by 50%.
Madison has grown tremendously in recent years. That’s come with huge benefits for the city, as we have seen with the revitalization of East Washington and downtown. Economic incentives through programs such as Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) have supported large projects. I will explore a “small cap” TIF program to make this available to smaller businesses that seek to expand. We can also use TIF to incentivize green development to reduce the risk of flooding and expand clean energy sources.
It is also essential to work with the county, schools and businesses to make sure workers have the training and support they need to find jobs in the industries powering Madison’s growth.
I have three daughters in the Madison public schools. A strong education system is vital if we are to continue to prosper. The future of the city is only as strong as the quality of its educational system. It is critical that the city pursue every opportunity to further collaborate with and strengthen the Madison Metropolitan School District.
Teachers tell us that no student can learn if they are tired or hungry. I will work with community partners to offer stable housing options for stressed families, and expand programs like Madison Out of School Time (MOST).
We must also make sure quality early childhood care is available for all families. I will work to assemble the people and resources necessary to scale up effective early childhood care models. We have established local examples that are emulated nationally. We just need the political will to take on the challenge.
As a homeowner with three kids, I know all too well the extent of our tax burden. It’s over $6,500 for the average home. Of that amount, about $2,500 are taxes for city services with the remainder supporting our schools and Dane County.
The city can’t simply cut our way to a lower tax burden as essential services need adequate funding. But the city must explore ways to reduce the cost of living in our beautiful city.
Clean Lakes and Drinking Water
Our lakes are among our most valuable assets. But they are being hurt by the impact of agricultural runoff, yard waste, and garden fertilizers. We can improve water quality in our lakes with better habits at home. But we will need to work with farmers outside Madison to have the biggest impact.
The need to work closely with Dane County and other community stakeholders is clear. As mayor, I will build strong relationships between the city and county to make headway on this critical problem.
Madison can explore market-based approaches that leverage the purchasing power of our community to reduce agricultural runoff. We must also ensure that Madison drinking water is the best in the state.
Madison’s parks are among our most valuable community assets. There remains tremendous opportunities to enhance parks – particularly those near our beautiful lakes – with amenities that attract more visitors and offer more opportunities for local businesses. When people visit the outdoors, they protect the outdoors. Ensuring that our parks are welcoming, safe, and engaging places should remain a top priority.
Businesses serving Olbrich Park as well as Wingra, Brittingham and Marshall park boaters have been popular and successful. We should look for opportunities to expand innovative approaches to revitalizing city parks.
Madison is a leader in making sure our parks are accessible to children of all backgrounds and abilities. As mayor, I will make sure every child can enjoy beautiful, fully-accessible parks.
Arts for Everyone
Music, murals, movies…. The arts express the personality, and spirit of our community. We will continue our support for integrating the arts into every infrastructure project, and public space across Madison. We should explore how we can make more room for creativity in street signage, multiple uses for public spaces and arts incubators.
Madison must continue to work with our state’s flagship university to create a safe environment for students, faculty, staff, and their neighbors. There is room to collaborate to create new affordable housing choices, and expand convenient transit options. And there is real potential to build on the success of research park through new development.