Madison Ald. Maurice Cheeks announced his mayoral candidacy Thursday, becoming the second person to officially declare their intentions for the post that is up for election in April.
Cheeks said inequality is the number one problem facing Madison, impacting areas such as affordable housing, public safety, education and economic development. The 33-year-old is in his third term on the City Council representing District 10, which comprises parts of the Southwest, Near West and West sides of the city.
"I'm running to build a future worthy of our next generation," Cheeks said. "As mayor, I'll fight for a forward-focused economy to grow and diversify our middle class."
He said by representing one of the most diverse districts in the city, it's shown him that "Madison is hungry for change."
Cheeks, who goes by the nickname "Mo," is vice president of business development at the data quality company MIOsoft. He is married and has two young children.
He said some of the things he's most proud to have worked on as a council member is increasing money for youth summer employment programs and funding violence prevention initiatives.
"In our national climate, it's more important than ever to have local leaders that are stepping up and providing a positive vision for our community," Cheeks said. "The status quo isn't working."
Mayor Paul Soglin, who is running in the Aug. 14 gubernatorial Democratic primary, quickly weighed in on the announcement.
"Maurice Cheeks will not be our next mayor. Personal ambition and indecision are not leadership qualities. Madison can be better," Soglin said in a statement.
Cheeks' decision follows an announcement by Satya Rhodes-Conway, a former City Council member who works at a UW-Madison think tank, in May that she is running for mayor.
The mayoral election will be held April 2, and if necessary, a primary will be on Feb. 19.