Madison has tremendous potential to live up to its progressive ideals and build a city that gives real opportunity and representation to all its residents.
Right now, we have the most diverse economy and the most diverse population that our city has ever had. Now is the time for Madison to dream big again — to deliver on affordable housing, public transit, safe neighborhoods and excellent schools. I know we can do it. We have the people, the creativity and the hunger to work to build a genuinely inclusive and innovative city.
For too long, politicians have ignored how our booming economy has exacerbated racial inequality and left too many working families behind. Far too many residents struggle in the shadows to afford rent, stay safe in their neighborhoods, or get access to well-paying jobs in our city.
I am running for mayor of Madison because I believe it’s time we had fresh leadership that's bold, that's progressive and that authentically hears the concerns of all who call our city home.
My parents always told me hard work would make big dreams come true. Since I was very young, my father has worked as a union construction worker. I'll never forget how my dad woke me up one night during middle school to take me to a labor strike so I could experience solidarity and community firsthand. It was my parent's grit and determination for progress that pushed me to become the first in my family to graduate from college.
I've not forgotten those roots and values.
Today, as a high-tech business leader right here in Madison, I know that our city’s economy can't grow without improved access to a diverse and educated workforce. To help solve this challenge, and to pay it forward after so many people looked after me, I've worked to tutor, mentor, and push young people in our community to dream big for their futures.
As an alder who serves in one of the most diverse districts, I’ve spent the past six years representing Madisonians from all walks of life. From successfully working to prevent discrimination based on a criminal record, to passing paid family leave, to bringing a grocery store to a food desert, to making voting more accessible, I've strived to tackle the challenges facing everyday people.
This experience is important because Madisonians deserve a mayor who fights for all of our futures.
We cannot afford a mayor who ignores critical challenges. We all suffer when families can’t afford to live with dignity, or when parents do not trust the safety of their neighborhoods. We are all worse off without a mayor collaborating with our schools, or collaborating to protect our environment. We are all disadvantaged when neighborhoods are underserved by public transportation, or when businesses large and small lack the support they need to thrive.
The growth and energy in our local economy gives us an opportunity to solve the challenges Madison face. The hope and optimism of this city are why so many families like mine commit to calling this place home.
I’m committed to utilizing this moment and tackling our city’s persistent challenges. Together, we’ll bring passion and new leadership to city hall, and I’ll stand in solidarity with everyone in our community to deliver results.
This election is an opportunity to expand what it means to be a progressive city. We can’t allow our future to be limited by our past. With your support and vote on Feb. 19, we will take the first step toward making the dream of a progressive Madison become a reality for all residents.
Ald. Cheeks is a candidate for mayor of Madison.