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Brenda Konkel

Brenda Konkel, a fierce advocate for Madison's homeless, has announced her campaign for mayor in 2019.

Konkel is the executive director for the Tenant Resource Center, co-founder of Occupy Madison, Inc. and lead volunteer in developing the Tiny House Village. She is also a former alder for District 2 on the near east side, serving four terms before losing her seat to Bridget Maniaci in 2009.

Konkel said Monday it's time the city start addressing issues such as affordable housing and equity.

“I go to meetings all the time and alders talk about their priorities,” Konkel said. “At a big picture level, they get what the issues are that people care about. But at that practical, everyday, real level, those issues aren’t being addressed.”

The mayoral election is April 2, 2019, with a primary scheduled for Feb. 19, 2019. Konkel joins former Ald. Satya Rhodes-Conway and District 10 Ald. Maurice Cheeks, so far, as candidates.

Mayor Paul Soglin, who is running for governor, has said he would “take these things one at a time" when asked about running for re-election. The primary election for the governor’s race is Aug. 14 and the general election is Nov. 6.

Following Rhodes-Conway’s announcement, Soglin's campaign manager Melissa Mulliken said his position had not changed.

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If elected, Konkel’s priorities are to increase Madison’s stock of affordable housing and implement a consultant’s recommendations for the police department. She also said addressing the structure of Madison’s local government is a concern ahead of redistricting after the 2020 U.S. census.

Konkel is a self-identified local government watchdog. She regularly attends city and county meetings, documenting them and other issues on her blog Forward Lookout. She also advocates for more resources for homeless individuals and families in Madison.

Considering the challenges facing Madison from the state and national government, Konkel said that she would have been angry with herself if she did not run in 2019.

“It’s extra challenging at this time and it makes it difficult for people to see local government as a solution,” Konkel said. “If local government isn’t the solution, than what is?”

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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.