As people of faith, we are very concerned about many complex issues facing our city today. During this campaign for mayor, the Madison community has the opportunity to raise important questions and hear both candidates’ ideas for addressing the issues we all care about. In the coming weeks, there will be public forums, campaign events, and other appearances by both candidates. It is our hope that Madison residents will take advantage of these occasions and hold our candidates accountable to answering these questions.
A mayoral campaign should help us make the case for a vision for our community that invites us to imagine a city in which all of our residents can flourish and lead meaningful lives, where we work together to solve problems, and in which we come together across race, ethnicity, economic status, and religious affiliation to create a thriving and just community. We look forward to working with the candidates, other elected officials and all Madison residents to achieve that goal.
Local government has the most direct and immediate impact on our community. We understand that the problems facing Madison are complex and thus the solutions may also be complex. We believe we have a right to know what the candidates’ proposals are for addressing these issues. The following are some of our questions and we encourage other citizens of Madison to add theirs.
Housing and Homelessness:
1. On the coldest nights this winter, more than 170 men were accommodated at the Men’s Drop-in Shelter at Grace Episcopal Church and overflow shelters, space that was not designed for shelter nor adequate for the numbers or need. How do you plan to address this ongoing situation in our city?
2. How would you address the severe lack of affordable housing in Madison?
3. What’s your plan to help all renters cope with the increasing rents in market-rate rentals?
4. How would you address the way the city and county have criminalized poverty through ordinances prohibiting activities of living and ticketing violations?
5. 828 children in Madison schools have been identified as homeless this school year. What’s your plan for addressing family homelessness?
6. How would you include existing community organizations in the vision for funding and identifying where additional funds should go?
Youth Support Services and Education:
1. How would you increase community support and activities for our youth in every neighborhood and increase financial support for our neighborhood centers?
2. The Madison schools do not offer driver’s education. Private lessons start at around $400, leaving low-income youth unable to obtain a license. Would you support the city funding scholarships for low-income youth to take driver’s ed?
3. Children of color are disproportionately arrested and funneled into the criminal justice system. What is your feeling about the efficacy of the current Educational Research Officer system? What is your approach regarding EROs in Madison high schools? Would you address the issue of safety in the schools differently with the funds ($97,000 per officer) currently allocated to EROs?
1. Will you be supportive of a legal fund for undocumented immigrants to access legal help, particularly for a deportation hearing, where representation increases the chance of a positive outcome?
2. The governor has called for driver’s licenses and state IDs for undocumented residents of Wisconsin. Will you actively push for driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants by joining with other mayors in sending a letter to the state Legislature in support of legal licenses?
1. Madison commissioned a study of the Police Department (OIR Report). The Madison Police Department has pushed back on many of the recommendations in that report. What is your plan for implementing the recommendations?
2. The OIR Report suggests a civilian oversight board for the police. Will you advocate for this civilian oversight board and what plan do you favor for constituting the board?
This list is by no means exhaustive. We encourage readers to attend one of the nine mayoral forums scheduled before the general election and share your questions with the candidates. Together, we can ensure that our elected officials are responsive to the needs of the people they serve.
The authors, Linda Ketcham (Madison-area Urban Ministry), Frank Davis (MOSES), Rabbi Bonnie Margulis, and Rev. Jonathan Greiser (Grace Episcopal Church), are members of Madison's faith community.
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