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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, June 25, 2022

Manning fails to represent students

It's been a little over a year since we tepidly endorsed then-candidate Wyndham Manning for Dane County Supervisor of the 5th District. It was a decision made with a certain amount of reserve and precaution—one that was not made without considerable skepticism of Manning's ability to perform and execute in the position of supervisor and adequately represent the student voice. During his year in office, Manning has done little to challenge the low bar that was set for him, and his awkward and secretive announcement to not seek re-election only validated our earlier preoccupations with endorsing him.

Manning enthusiastically took the liberal progressive torch from his predecessor Ashok Kumar, who himself faced similar constraints in the supervisor position. But in contrast to Manning, Kumar was a vocal and much more transparent supervisor. Since his election in November of 2008, The Daily Cardinal has not seen so much as a press release from Manning. Though Kumar struggled at times, his door was open and he appeared ready to handle complaints.

Manning promised while running for election that he would exhibit a certain amount of accountability, promoting his use of office hours to increase contact with students. Perhaps the job was too much for Manning. He ran for the position with strong environmental stances, championing the agricultural roots of Dane County and mixing it with the overall liberal ideology that Madison is known for.

Manning proposed policies dealing with the pollution of our lakes as well as his desire for transportation reform, but when it came down to it, he never really acted on any of those promises. Many cited Manning's energy and attitude as reasons to vote for him in 2008, but the realization of his political responsibilities has definitely worn down Manning's optimistic beginnings.

Manning served on six separate committees during his time as a Dane County Supervisor, including the Committee of Environment, Agriculture, and Natural Resources, as well as the Cultural Affairs Committee. Outside of his work on the board, Manning is well known for his integral role in Madison's Forward Music Festival, bringing his dedication to the role of supervisor into question.

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The goal of the 5th District Supervisor should be to make sure that students' voices are heard, regardless of any turmoil within the student population. The supervisor must be flexible and willing to cooperate and communicate, something Manning hasn't shown the ability to do, helping to bridge the complicated student to community relationship.

From a student standpoint, the position of Dane County Supervisor is relatively ambiguous and comes off as unimportant. The two-year term is punctuated by the difficult campaign process, which includes mobilizing students who have little experience as citizens of Dane County. This definitely puts the District Supervisor at a disadvantage, but with adversity comes a significant amount of opportunity. Former District 8 Alder Eli Judge set a precedent for bringing the student voice to the city government with increased visibility and awareness of the position itself.

Manning's tenure has been cryptic and unsatisfying, his work lost amidst bigger projects that Manning put in front of student interests. It was this sort of behavior as well as the lack of communication that gave off the air that Manning really wasn't interested in the elected position. That or he was overwhelmed by the situation and handcuffed by the variables. But still, this is no excuse for a supervisor whose conflicting priorities certainly disrupted his chance to make a change.

In our initial endorsement of Manning, The Daily Cardinal Editorial Board wrote that Manning would be a quality supervisor if ""he turns his ears to constituents and opens his eyes to his own faults.""

Unfortunately, Manning was not so introspective, boisterously attending to other priorities and leaving behind the students he ran to represent. Manning leaves behind a legacy of incompetence, making a mockery of the position and inspiring leagues of underachieving students to run for political office. We hope that Manning's successor can learn from Manning's example and understand that it is imperative that they represent the student body in their work. After all, that was the job Manning was elected to accomplish.

 

 

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