Raj Shukla, executive director of conservation organization River Alliance of Wisconsin, is running to become mayor of Madison — the fourth person to enter the race that will be decided next spring.
Shukla, who also chairs the city’s Sustainable Madison Committee, said he sees Madison as the economic and innovation powerhouse of Wisconsin that is driving prosperity for residents, but “crippling inequalities” remain throughout the city.
As the son of Indian immigrants, Shukla said he wants to see a community that sets the bar higher in terms of helping each other. The 42-year-old father of three daughters recalled the support he and his wife received from people when their eldest was born with Down syndrome.
“That is the kind of community that I think we need to build here in Madison, to make sure that everybody benefits from the prosperity we’re seeing,” he said.
Expanding public transit and increasing the amount of low-cost housing are the two most important tools the city has for addressing inequalities, Shukla said.
He said he wants to see the housing market expanded not only to help people seeking more affordable rent, but to add to the tax base and provide relief for longtime residents who have seen their property taxes rise.
In addition, public transit and appropriately designed housing can significantly reduce Madison’s contribution to climate change, a topic the Sustainable Madison Committee has set ambitious goals for based on the input of dozens of citizens, Shukla said.
“I am known for, and take a lot of pride in, my ability to work together with people from differing points of views, find shared goals and work toward them,” he said.
Shukla joins a growing field of candidates.
Satya Rhodes-Conway, who works for UW-Madison think tank Center on Wisconsin Strategy; Brenda Konkel, executive director of the Tenant Resource Center and an advocate for the homeless; and Ald. Maurice Cheeks, 10th District, have all declared their mayoral candidacies. Rhodes-Conway and Konkel are also former City Council members.
Mayor Paul Soglin announced earlier this month he is not seeking re-election. A primary for the post will be held Feb. 19, and a new mayor will be elected April 2.