I’m running for City Council with the big picture in mind.
Madison is at a crossroads.
By 2040, if estimates are correct, Madison will become home to 70,000 new residents.
We’re already facing big challenges in the areas of housing affordability, traffic congestion, and threats to our lakes.
Last summer’s floods were an abrupt wake-up call. Climate change, scientists tell us, is bearing down on us like a speeding train.
Racial disparities in our schools and criminal justice system persist, running counter to the image we have of ourselves as a hip, progressive city. It’s true, Madison is a great place to live, for most of us anyway. Not so great, however, if your skin is black or brown.
Martin Luther King, Jr., in his “I Have a Dream” speech, called for “the fierce urgency of now.”
The twin challenges of climate change and racial equity demand this sense of urgency.
Climate change is a global crisis, one that knows no boundaries, while racial equity is our definitional crisis, telling us we are not one city, but two, that we have failed to live up to our promise.
We have faced big challenges in the past. Back in 2001, Madison embarked on an ambitious plan to replace all our lead pipes. It took more than a decade and cost nearly $20 million, but we became the first city in the nation to entirely remove this threat to public health.
The city’s Sustainability Plan has set big goals of moving toward 100 percent renewables and net zero carbon emissions. Thinking big is consistent with the Green New Deal espoused by new members of Congress such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
The Green New Deal is a climate mobilization strategy that calls us to a war footing.
Jimmy Carter was mocked for declaring the energy crisis the “moral equivalent of war.” What a different place we’d be in today had we taken him seriously.
The first New Deal grew out of the Wisconsin Idea. Social Security, Worker’s Compensation, and Aid to Families with Dependent Children were formulated by social scientists on the UW campus.
UW’s Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies is playing a leading role in articulating the Green New Deal. The “sifting and winnowing” of visionary ideas taking us forward into a carbon free future is fully apace. As a result, Madison has taken big steps toward becoming a national leader in sustainability.
What would it take for Madison to become a leader in racial equity?
Race to Equity, a project of Kids Forward, and the Justified Anger Coalition have laid the foundation for defining and addressing this issue.
We have the financial resources in our community to take this on. We live in a city where one family donated $205 million to build the Overture Center, the single largest philanthropic gift to the arts in our nation’s history.
This is Madison’s moon-shot moment. In 1962, JFK told the nation we were going to the moon by the end of the decade. He didn’t know how we’d get there, but he promised we would.
Let’s shoot high and set a goal of eliminating racial disparities in our schools by the year 2030. Bold thinking and bold action. The city, county and the school district working together in a new spirit of collaboration. Public-private partnerships providing the critical resources for wraparound services, affordable housing and family supporting jobs.
Thinking outside the box, refusing to take no for an answer, responding to the fierce urgency of now.
I’ve spent the last 25 years bringing people together and building community around music. I’m running for City Council to bring people together around the ideas and policies that will improve the lives of all who call Madison home.