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Wisconsin State Journal (copy)

Two candidates are vying to succeed Ald. Larry Palm, who did not seek re-election to the Madison City Council in the 12th District, which encompasses parts of the East and North sides. The election is April 2. The term is two years.

Syed Abbas

Age: 32

Address: 2513 Coolidge St.

Family: Married with a daughter

Job: Energy efficiency project manager for an independent nonprofit that advances sustainability through energy consulting, continuing education, research and program design

Prior elected office: None

Other public service: Co-chairman, Eken Park Neighborhood Association; vice chairman and citizen member, Public Safety Review Committee; appointed member, Oscar Mayer Strategic Assessment Committee; citizen member, Task Force on Equity in Music and Entertainment

Education: Master’s degree in public policy and human development, United Nations University at Maastricht University, the Netherlands; master’s degree in mass communication and journalism, Beaconhouse National University, Pakistan; bachelor’s degree in mass communication and journalism, Forman Christian College, Pakistan

Diane Farsetta

Age: 46

Address: 213 N. Fifth St.

Family: Married

Job: Community outreach and staff coordinator, Center for Aging Research and Education, UW-Madison School of Nursing

Prior elected office: None

Other public service: Secretary and former treasurer, area representative and Planning Council representative, Emerson East Neighborhood Association; member and former vice chairwoman, Madison Sister City Collaboration Committee; coordinator, East Timor Action Network-Madison; fundraising and gardens coordinator, Occupy Madison Tiny Homes Village; former executive director, Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice

Education: Ph.D. in cellular and molecular biology, UW-Madison; bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in English, University of Delaware

Q&A

What makes you better qualified than your opponent for this position?

Abbas: I have experience working with people from diverse backgrounds during my time at the United Nations and my current work with municipalities for an environmental sustainability non-profit. I have worked on the grassroots level through committees and neighborhood associations. As a first-generation immigrant, I have a unique perspective and connection to the struggles that our disconnected communities face.

Farsetta: My 25 years of community work set me apart. I’ve served on the Emerson East Neighborhood Association board since 2007, facilitated international solidarity between Madison and our nine sister cities, volunteered with OM Village’s formerly homeless residents, and brought diverse voices to community radio. I’m a biologist with health and environmental policy experience who builds partnerships for older adult health.

What could the city do better and how would you help achieve that?

Abbas: I believe the city should do better communicating and involving all voices when making decisions. People in District 12 have been overlooked by past leadership and we need all voices to be heard when making decisions about our community. I am passionate about bringing people’s voices to the city level and focusing on the city council representing all people.

Farsetta: The city must engage all members of our community to expand opportunity, achieve equity and strengthen neighborhoods. I support creating an Office on Resident Engagement and Neighborhood Support to help council members be more inclusive and effective. My experience helping grassroots groups weigh in on policy matters, as the former director of a statewide membership organization, prepares me to serve you.

What would be your approach to development in Madison?

Abbas: We need to make sure to meet the needs of constituents living in areas being developed. We need affordable housing solutions that combine mixed-use housing and energy efficiency. We also need to make sure that new development projects, like Oscar Mayer, connect people to amenities and services that they need in the community and keep our local economy strong.

Farsetta: I will help neighbors understand and be heard in the development review process, to achieve the best outcomes for our area and city. I support expanding the Affordable Housing Fund so that neighbors of all incomes have stable, safe housing. As Madison grows, we must add density while carefully managing stormwater and respecting neighborhood character.

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