I’m running for mayor because everyone in Madison deserves the opportunity to thrive.
I moved to Madison almost 20 years ago for an internship and fell in love with this city. I turned that internship into a job writing environmental policy followed by a job at UW. After renting an apartment, I bought a house in the Eken Park neighborhood. That house is still my home 10 years later, with my partner Amy, our dog Leo, and three cats.
Ten years ago, I could afford this house on an entry-level UW salary, and could become a bus commuter because I live close enough to campus that the Metro system works for me. But today, people like me can’t afford to buy a home in many of Madison’s neighborhoods. And too many people can’t afford the cost of housing at all. The opportunity I was able to find in Madison has not been available to many people who have lived here their whole lives, and is less and less available to people who want to move here. That’s not right.
I’m running for mayor because there are four critical challenges that we must face as a city: the affordable housing crisis, growing transportation challenges, deep racial disparities, and the dangerous impacts of climate change. Lack of affordable housing in Madison is harming families and keeping people from moving here. Insufficient public transit keeps people from accessing employment and contributes to our congested roads. Racial disparities are keeping us from being a truly great city and causing us to lose talent. And our failure to adequately prepare for climate change is putting our health and safety in grave danger.
The challenges we face as a city are not unique, nor are they unsolvable.
I am the managing director of the Mayors Innovation Project, a national learning network for mayors throughout the country. Every day I work with mayors and their senior staff to solve problems just like those facing our city and together we make cities throughout the country more progressive and compassionate for their residents. Over the 13 years I’ve done this, I’ve learned a lot about city policy solutions, but I’ve learned more about how to find the best solutions, how to connect with experts, and how to successfully implement good policy. I’ve helped cities stabilize their water systems, focus on early childhood education, support entrepreneurship, tackle climate change, build community engagement strategies, and much more. My experience working with mayors and cities around the country will be a tremendous asset to Madison.
In addition to my work running the Mayors Innovation Project, I served for six years on the Madison City Council. I served on the Finance Committee, championed Metro, helped save Overture, built bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, supported community services, and worked to make government more efficient, effective, and accessible. I currently serve on the Madison Food Policy Council, where we’re focused on increasing access to healthy and affordable food. I recently finished chairing the Oscar Mayer Strategic Assessment Committee, which was focused on how to redevelop that site while getting as much benefit for the community as possible. I’ve always had a collaborative leadership style, and work to bring many perspectives to the table.
As mayor I’ll put my extensive experience and collaborative leadership style to work to build community buy-in and solve the challenges facing our city.
Madison needs a progressive, collaborative, experienced leader with the vision to make our city great for everyone. I am that leader, and I hope to earn your vote on Feb. 19.
Satya Rhodes-Conway is a candidate for mayor of Madison.