Check out my interview with The League Of Women Voters:
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.
I’m a first-time candidate, but I come from a political family.
My mother, Frances Reed Evers, ran for state legislature in Ohio while still a single woman in the 1940s. That was unheard of back then.
My father, Martin Evers, got involved in politics after WWII, volunteering in Jack Kennedy’s 1946 congressional campaign. In 1962, Dad ran for Congress in Dayton, Ohio, my hometown, running as a Democrat with Kennedy’s endorsement.
Before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Medicare/Medicaid Act of 1965, Dad ran on a platform of civil rights and health care for the elderly and the indigent. More than once, Dad was called a communist and a racist slur I won’t repeat. My father didn’t win, but he stood up for his values, and in so doing shaped the conversation, shifted the narrative, and helped lay the groundwork for change.
I’m running for City Council with that same spirit in mind.
Madison’s rapid growth has brought many challenges to our city.
District 13 is a microcosm of these challenges. The district is typically thought of as affluent and, yes, parts of the district certainly are. But we also have more affordable housing for residents facing a diverse set of challenges than any other district in the city.
Much of our affordable housing lies in the Triangle, an area bounded by South Park, Regent Street, and West Washington. Redevelopment of the Triangle represents the city’s largest undertaking of its kind. Given the misguided destruction of the old Greenbush neighborhood on the same site half a century ago, Madison has a moral responsibility to get it right this time.
As a candidate, I’ve been attending the meetings of the Monona Bay Triangle Steering Committee. As your alder, I will be 100 percent committed to protecting the rights of all our district’s residents, no matter where they live or what their life circumstances are.
During this campaign, I’ve knocked on over a thousand doors and held several listening sessions. Here are the issues that keep coming up:
Development: How do we balance our rapid growth with the need to honor our close-knit neighborhoods? Increasing density, building up and not out, makes sense environmentally and from an equity standpoint. But not all development projects are equal. As your alder, I will place a premium on affordability, transit access and green infrastructure, and I will insist on informed and meaningful neighborhood participation in the planning process.
Schools: We must address the racial disparities in our schools. The city’s education committee is completely ineffective. As your alder, I will support a reorganization of this critical city, county, district committee to include participation from teachers, parents/guardians and students. Outside issues, including hunger, housing instability, poverty and trauma, need to be jointly targeted and solutions adequately resourced.
The environment: Last summer’s floods were an abrupt wake-up call. Climate change is bearing down on us like a speeding train. Rapid growth threatens our lakes and drinking water. As your alder, I will see to it that the Lake Wingra Watershed Management Plan is fully implemented. Moreover, I will work with the Friends of Lake Wingra, the Clean Lakes Alliance, Friends of Monona Bay, our neighborhood associations, the Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission, and vigilant volunteers to protect Lake Wingra, Monona Bay, and the watershed upon which we depend.
Madison is ready to take a giant step forward to truly become one city — a healthy and vibrant place for everyone. We’ve done the studies, and we know the numbers.
Now it’s time to act.
Crime is an issue that’s getting discussed during this campaign. It’s true there’s been an uptick in
property crime, impacting residents on the near west side. Most of these are crimes of opportunity.
Unlocked doors leading to break-ins and car thefts. Being a victim of a theft is very unpleasant, about
which I can speak from experience. But it’s important to remember we will never be able to arrest
ourselves out of this problem.
It’s not possible to have an officer on every corner, so our response must be pragmatic. Lock our doors
and look out for our neighbors. And as we do so, let’s ponder the root causes of these crimes. My
conversations with experts in the field tell me that when a kid gets in trouble with the law, the issue
nearly always has to do with issues in the family. The child has likely dropped out or been kicked out of
school. Parents are disengaged, and poverty may be entrenched. The family may not have secure
housing, access to healthy food, or adequate transportation. And the family may be dealing with AODA
issues, mental health issues, and various forms of trauma.
That doesn’t excuse criminal behavior, but it does give important context. Our criminal justice system is
slowing transitioning to include various aspects of the restorative justice model. I’ve written about
restorative justice several times, with articles published locally in the Isthmus, and nationally in The
Progressive and Yes! Magazine. Here’s a link to an article that was published back in 1998.
The answers are not simple. But it’s imperative we have informed conversations regarding the racial
disparities in our schools, and the segregated and entrenched poverty impacting communities of color in
our city. Otherwise, we risk responding out of fear and not out of wisdom, ignoring yet again the root
causes of the problem.
The following is an excerpt from an essay I wrote in the summer of 2008, reflecting on two decades of my life in Madison:
“July 20 is the anniversary of my move to Madison twenty years ago. I moved here from Dayton, Ohio to pursue a doctorate in Agricultural Economics under the guidance of a thoughtful Natural Resource economist who was also one of the few remaining expositors of the Institutional school of economics. Institutional Economics, with its holistic multidisciplinary approach, offered an alluring respite from the arid confines of neo-classical orthodoxy and its extreme reliance on mathematical equations and statistics. I looked forward to my studies in the hopes that my interest in economics as a means of grappling with the complex issues facing us – particularly global environmental crises — would lead to a career in academia.
Man plans, God laughs. Before I could get to the good stuff, I had to pass muster in the form of prelims, and in order to do that, I had to take classes in Micro, Macro, and Econometrics. My math training upon arrival was minimal – I had never before seen a proof. In short, I was screwed. For the first time in my life, I was a failure.
In retrospect, I should have transferred to Sociology or Political Science, but I tried sticking it out. I could write well, and consequently had a paper published shortly after my arrival. I was invited to present my ideas at a couple of conferences, and I ended up getting featured in a video shot at an academic conference exploring the emerging discipline of Ecological Economics, one that was shown on college campuses across the country, even making its way to the Clinton White House (true story.)
But then more reality set in. I fell in love, hard, only to see it end in a slow-motion train wreck. And my parents died, both of them, within six months of each other. I was in a world of pain.
So I dropped out and became a concert promoter.
I sometimes wonder what life would have been like as a college professor if my original intentions upon landing here 20 years ago had been fulfilled. It was my dream to be a public intellectual, to get paid to read and write and think. I did go back and get my master’s degree, but I still have my regrets, that restless longing for what might have been.
On the other hand, I wouldn’t have had the life experiences I’ve had. I get to chat with Lyle Lovett, hang out with Patti Smith, witness the ongoing explosive genius of an artist like Jeff Tweedy. It’s not all like that; there’s a lot of endless work, lots of nights with 50 people in the house and a few hundred shy in the till. But, all in all, it doesn’t suck.
I still remember the first time I drove into Madison, down Park Street until it dead-ended into Lake Mendota, lost and not a little bit scared. I’ve watched the buildings go up, the skyline change, the city grow and prosper. And, I like to think, I’ve grown up and changed with it.
I’m glad I was bad at math and good at rock. And I’m very glad I moved to Madison twenty years ago.”
This Thanksgiving, I found myself feeling deep gratitude for my parents, both of whom passed away more than 26 years ago. I’m grateful for their legacies of public service.
My mother, Frances Reed Evers, ran for state legislature in Ohio while still a single woman in the 1940’s. That was unheard of back then.
My father, Martin A. Evers, got involved in politics after WWII, volunteering in JFK’s first congressional campaign in 1946. The photo was taken at the White House in 1962, during his own campaign for Congress in Dayton, Ohio, my hometown, running as a Democrat with Kennedy’s endorsement.
Dad ran on a platform of civil rights and health care for the elderly and the indigent. This was before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Medicare/Medicaid Act of 1965. More than once, Dad was called a communist and a racist slur I won’t repeat.
He didn’t win, but he stood up for his values, and in so doing shaped the conversation, shifted the narrative, and helped lay the groundwork for change.
I’m running for city council in that same spirit. Win or lose, I will be standing up for inclusiveness, diversity and equity – a Madison in which everyone can thrive.
My business experience for the last 25 years has been based on bringing people together. Together, we’ve built community around music, and on many occasions raised money and awareness for vital causes.
I will put those same skills to work on a shared future that works for all of us, one in which we think outside the box, refusing to take no for an answer.
The time is now. Please join the Tag Team. Together we can make a difference!
Madison Needs a Moon Shot Mentality.
On the evening of Nov 14, I spoke publicly at a meeting of the Dane County Democratic Party about my reasons for running for city council.
I mentioned my concerns about equity, noting that we’re wealthy enough as a community to take this on.
I remarked that we live in a city where one family donated $205 million to build the Overture Center, which at the time was the single largest philanthropic gift to the arts in our nation’s history. (It might still be!)
I finished by claiming this is Madison’s moon-shot moment.
In 1962, JFK told the nation that 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.
We can debate the merits of going to the moon while so many children went hungry, but the idea is JFK committed the nation to a hard and arduous path, determined to succeed.
“We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”
Madison is at a crossroads. By 2040, if current estimates prove correct, Madison will become home to 70,000 additional residents. This raises important concerns:
• Will only the wealthy be able to live on the Isthmus? We have a housing crisis in Madison and if we don’t fix it we will end up like San Francisco.
• Traffic congestion will get much worse. If we don’t fix it, we’ll end up like Austin, TX. (I’ve been to Austin many times for SXSW – trust me, we don’t want to go there!)
• Madison is a tale of two cities. Will our equity issues continue to hold us back or will we move forward, not just with more talk, but real action?
I believe we need a “moon shot” sense of urgency, a commitment to what Martin Luther King, Jr. referred to as “the fierce urgency of now.”
I’ve spent the last 25 years bringing people together around music. I’m running for city council to bring people together around the ideas that will make Madison a place where everyone can thrive.
I will put my business experience organizing over 2500 community events to work in accomplishing these goals.
The time is now to face these issues head on, bringing our best selves to the table, rolling up our sleeves and working to improve the lives of all who call Madison home.
Please join us at Tag Team. Together we can make a difference!