I was born and raised here in Madison. I love the ways this city has shaped the person I am, and the look of excitement people get when I say where I am from. Now, I am raising my own family here.
As a child, I was proud to be from a place that was so progressive. As an adult, I am more acutely aware that Madison is very good at saying the right things, but doesn't always have the outcomes to match. For example, Madison today is one of the worst places to live as a person of color. Additionally, while our booming economy has created incredible opportunities for upper-middle-class people, we are increasingly pricing out those of more modest means, creating two parallel cities that provide very different experiences.
But we are now at a moment of great opportunity to actually live up to our city's promise, because Madison is transitioning from being a "big little city" to being a "little big city." As we make important decisions about density and zoning and traffic congestion, we can choose to reinforce the structures that benefit some but not all in this city, or we can rectify those shortcomings systemically.
It won't be easy. If we work together collaboratively to honor all perspectives and be guided by our shared values, we can get it done. If, on the other hand, we allow ourselves to be ruled by knee-jerk reactions and an "us vs. them" mentality, we could be headed for a particularly divisive time in Madison politics.
Unfortunately, we are currently seeing exactly what that could look like with the intense controversy over Edgewood High School's proposal to improve its athletic field. Like my opponent, I oppose the current plans, because I don't think they achieve the right balance between the needs of the school and the needs of the neighborhood. But unlike him, I believe this moment calls for listening to all viewpoints and seeking common ground, not simply securing "victory" for one side. Stealing lawn signs and publishing emails is not how Madison should be addressing a proposal to put lights on a football field, much less having more important conversations about homelessness and racial inequity. We can do better. We must do better.
And we have done better. As president of the Dudgeon Monroe Neighborhood Association, I oversaw our negotiation over the new building going up where Associated Bank used to be on Monroe Street. Because we worked with the developer constructively, we secured many changes to the design that mitigated its negative impacts, while still adding housing capacity to our neighborhood and increasing the tax base for the city.
I do this work because it is so rewarding to take a seemingly intractable problem and solve it in a way that honors all perspectives. That's why I have served as the president of a neighborhood association in Madison four of the last five years. It's why I added two years to my graduate studies to get a public policy degree. And it's why I'm asking for your support to be the next alder for District 13.
For me, this is personal. I want to continue to be proud of the reactions I get when I tell people I am from Madison. I want my son to feel the same way when he goes out into the world someday. With the right style of inclusive, collaborative leadership, we can still be that city we all dream of. I invite you to take this journey with me.