The Madison I aim to help create is one with a foundation of social justice. As an organizer, I have been working on social justice issues since high school, so as a council member I will use my voice on a different platform to continue that conversation and create legislation that puts people over property. This multifaceted issue needs to be addressed at many different levels. When I think of social justice, I think of food security, community investment, accessible transportation, affordable housing, and implementing structures so that BIPOC can own their own homes.
Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets (CAHOOTS)
First, there must be community investment. Giving resources to underserved communities enables these groups to uplift themselves and better our community via a program similar to the Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets (CAHOOTS) program. This is a form of alternative crisis intervention where the city invests in social workers and medical aid to respond to the needs of the community. The CAHOOTS program currently saves Eugene over $8 million and has the potential to save Madison millions as well. I plan to work with non-profits such as Freedom, Inc. to bring this type of program to Madison. Police presence in our communities often leads to tension and violence that prevents people from getting the help they need. By making sure everyone has access to basic medical care to secure our mental and physical health, we can address these issues before they arise. Healthy communities don’t need to call the police. To be a healthy community, we must invest in our community.
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities Eviction Rate Graphic (2020)
As an alder, I plan to work with:
The affordable housing crisis in Madison has become an even more prominent issue since the pandemic, but it has always been a long standing problem in this city. Constituents of District 8 are particularly vulnerable to their landlords’ discretion, which is why I support rent control and other landlord regulations. As new developers try to make luxury apartments, we must keep in mind how UW students are being placed in smaller rooms for higher prices, such as what happened with the Hub II. International students and immigrants are especially vulnerable due to fear of deportation that prevents sufficient self-advocacy and protection from their landlords. There are simply not enough resources available to them. For those who are vulnerable to homelessness and high mobility, I will work with YWCA Madison to reclaim empty houses from the city to utilize them for people experiencing homelessness. For this reason, I support a vacancy tax to put a stop to corporate gentrification.
The UW System helps fund the prison labor system. UW-Madison specifically buys furniture made through the Bureau of Correctional Enterprises, which is an inmate employment program that exploits a loophole in the 13th Amendment that allows inmates to be paid less than a dollar an hour. I plan to take us a step in the right direction by holding UW-Madison accountable in their role in this oppressive cycle.
Furthermore, the cash-bail system is inherently classist and racist. I intend to work with the county to end the cash-bail system, which will decrease the number of political prisoners in Madison’s jails and those who are in jail simply for being poor. We must recognize that the jail in Madison has not been renovated in decades and is uninhabitable and quite frankly dangerous. Consider donating to the 350 bail fund if you can!
Approximately ¾ of UW-Madison students live off of campus rather than campus housing. It is vital that we expand Medical Amnesty for students in the entirety of Madison in order to ensure that university students are not penalized for using emergency services. Yogev Ben-Yitschak was a critical player in spearheading this legislation during his time in ASM, and I am excited to have him on the team to expand this policy to the rest of Madison.
Lights on Lakeshore
Lakeshore path has long been hazardous to walk through when the sun sets. I propose that we not only add lighting to Lakeshore but to also make these lights self-sustaining. I want to explore options for lights that will not interrupt the natural environment for the animals and plants in the area, possibly lights on the ground. People will always choose the path of least resistance, and the issue of safety has been a long standing issue in regards to the lakeshore path. Adding lights will not fully solve the problem, but it will be a step in the right direction in terms of student safety.
Climate change is affecting our lives right now. In the conversation of social justice, we need to talk about the intersectionality of environmental justice and how BIPOC are the most impacted by climate change. I support implementing the Green New Deal, working with groups like YCAT, Sunrise Movement, campus sustainability organizations and more to ensure that both the campus and the city are cognizant of ways in which we can to take action now. I also plan to work with the Dane County Office of Energy and Climate Change to bring these reforms to fruition because the relationship between the city and the county is critical in the fight for environmental justice.
Powering State Street With Our Feet
Sustainable options are often framed as expensive and inaccessible. By installing piezoelectric sidewalks, we will not only be able to harness that kinetic energy to help power our district in an environmentally conscious way but also help shatter the narrative that sustainability is outside of our reach and show that the future of our district, city, and planet rests with us and our actions.
Land ownership has an undeniable impact on the ability for communities to self-sustain themselves rather than relying on the market for food. As Alder, I plan to coordinate with the urban farming communities in Madison to make affordable (if not free) healthy produce more accessible to those who are vulnerable to the food apartheid in Madison. I also want to ensure that the community is involved in their food by making communal and private gardens more accessible.
Making UW-Madison Sustainable
There are many ways, big and small, that we can ensure Madison has a green future. For example, I want to increase the number of bubblers on campus to shift us away from using plastic water bottles. Similar to the bike barn outside of Dejope, I want to implement bikes barns all around campus to protect our bikes from these crazy Wisconsin winters. On a larger scale, I will continue to advocate for UW-Madison to divest from fossil fuels and invest in clean energy. I also plan to serve as a bridge between students and the community, and thus plan to coordinate with student run services such as FH King and the Open Seat Food pantry to expand those services to the greater community. We must also involve more students and alumni in the Green Power program, which is a program that educates people on setting up their own solar panels.
Saving the Bees
Bees are an integral part in keeping our environment healthy. There’s precedent of ordinances to support people with their own private hives. I want to bring legislation to Madison that supports bee owners and relocates hives instead of destroying them. I also support increasing native Wisconsin plants on city property to encourage biodiversity.
Accountability for PFAS
Hazardous chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are polluting Madison’s waters. PFAS are a group of human-made chemicals that are used for non-stick cookware, fast food wrappers, stain-resistant sprays and certain types of firefighting foam. These contaminants have made their way into Dane County’s groundwater through spills of PFAS-containing materials during the 1950s -1980s at firefighter training areas and more recently Dane County Airport’s burn pits. As of August 2020, PFAS have contaminated all of Madison’s public water wells according to the Madison Water Utility annual report.
Pushing Back on F-35s
Though it may seem too late, there still may be time to push back on F-35s on a city level. These fighter jets would bring nothing but noise and chemical pollution, potentially making over 1,000 homes “incompatible for residential use.” The problems these fighter jets would bring would disproportionately affect the lives of farmers, low income, BIPOC communities. Here are some action items you can take immediately:
Increasing public transportation means increasing our quality of life. Hence, it is important that Madison increases the walkability of our neighborhoods by investing in bike barns, electric buses, and walk paths. I support having at least one free bus line per hour in the city of Madison with free bus lines to hospitals always available.
It is vital that we invest into the youth of Madison to cultivate their growth and autonomy. As a proud product of MMSD, I was able to bear witness to the shortcomings of a system not built for BIPOC children. I plan to implement changes that ensure that BIPOC students are no longer being left behind. So far, I have already played a role in starting the “Grow Your Own” program during my time in MMSD, and I plan to further expand upon this initiative. Although the city and school district budgets are separate, there are ways to still support MMSD by providing families with affordable and accessible housing, transportation, and Wifi access.
“Grow Your Own” Program
As an alder, I will ensure that there is a thriving “Grow Your Own” program that can provide resources and funds to create scholarships for community members to go into teaching. My hope is to expand this program to a county level to increase teacher diversity, which will in turn increase student diversity.
Additionally, I intend to build a teen center downtown that is energy efficient and provides reliable internet access. COVID showed us how important the internet can be, and we must ensure that the youth have access to the tools they need to succeed. The programs here would include the history of racial justice, material on college readiness, and resources on how to advocate for yourself and others. Youth will be fully involved in the design process of this center, as it is imperative that it is run on green energy. For our city to incorporate green practices, our youth must be the ones leading the way.
Such green practices would include:
Covid-19 response initiatives are a priority for both Wisconsin as a whole, and for myself as a Black woman, student, community member, and representative. To address this issue I am first going to ensure that there are more accessible testing sites. Making sure everyone is heard is central to my values, and that includes incarcerated people. While the UW system directly profits from prison labor, prisons and their inmates are struggling to manage COVID-19 outbreaks. To remedy this, I propose releasing non-violent prisoners which would lower the amount of people incarcerated and mitigate the rapid spread of COVID-19 in our prisons. Ensuring that this population receives the COVID vaccine will also ensure that we can better control COVID outbreaks. President-elect Joe Biden has recently said that this pandemic will get worse before it gets better, but as a community, we can take actionable steps to improve our response.
Building Coalitions Around