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Raj Shukla

Raj Shukla is the chair of city's Sustainable Madison Committee and the executive director of River Alliance of Wisconsin.

When Raj Shukla thinks about Madison’s commitment to using 100 percent sustainable energy, he recalls the many people who created such ambitious goals for the city.

As the chair of the Sustainable Madison Committee, Shukla watched dozens of people show up to public hearings, including young people and people of color, to set a high bar for a clean energy future.

He said Thursday in an interview with the Cap Times that he is entering the race for mayor to address a range of issues like affordable housing and transportation in the same way: together with a commitment of respect.

"We can tackle really difficult problems if we commit to bringing a whole range of new voices to the table,” Shukla said.

In addition to his committee work, Shukla is the executive director of River Alliance of Wisconsin. He lives on the near west side with his wife and three children.

Shukla is the fourth candidate to enter the mayor’s race. He joins former alder Satya Rhodes-Conway, District 10 Ald. Maurice Cheeks and Tenant Resource Center Executive Director Brenda Konkel, who is also a former alderFormer alder and mayoral candidate Bridget Maniaci said Tuesday she is “seriously considering” joining the race.

The mayoral election is April 2, 2019, with a primary scheduled for Feb. 19.

On July 17, Mayor Paul Soglin announced he will not run for re-election in 2019. Soglin is running for governor as a Democratic candidate.

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Though Shukla has considered running for mayor for some time, he said Soglin’s announcement “opened up new opportunities for the campaign.”  

“His absence from this race, I think, gives us all a little space to focus less on any personality and far more on the big issues we’re facing,” Shukla said.

While Shukla is committed to work on climate change, he said addressing housing and improving Madison’s transportation system are two major priorities. Madison is a “changing place with changing problems” that are likely to intensify, Shukla said.

But as the son of parents who immigrated from India, Shukla said he was raised to believe influential change is possible with the support of a strong community. Showing up can make a difference, he said.

“Just do something,” Shukla said. “That’s really what this campaign is about.”

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Abigail Becker joined The Capital Times in 2016, where she primarily covers city and county government. She previously worked for the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and the Wisconsin State Journal.