Working as a Madison Common Council alderman requires a pragmatic approach to city politics, new policy initiatives and an openness to differing opinions. That is why we are endorsing Sam Stevenson for District 2.
Diverging substantially from incumbent District 2 candidate Bridget Maniaci, Stevenson has the potential to propose and complete a variety of projects that Maniaci has shown in her tenure she would be incapable of seeing through.
Maniaci staunchly defended the Edgewater Hotel project, which diverted property tax dollars toward the privately owned hotel to help its renovation, against many of her constituents' wishes.
While they have yet to be implemented, Maniaci's most notable initiatives on the council of late include trying to get health-care coverage for the part-time alder position, and decreasing the number of districts representing the Madison area.
Though Stevenson clearly supports Paul Soglin for mayor, it is equally clear that he is willing to work with Mayor Dave Cieslewicz if he is re-elected. It is unclear what kind of relationship, if any, Maniaci would be able to build with Madison's next mayor regardless of who wins Tuesday. It is imperative to be a coalition builder on such an insular body as city council, but Maniaci's abrasive demeanor has only alienated her from many fellow alders.
It is notable that District 8 Alder Bryon Eagon, who represents the 98 percent student-inhabited District 8, has informally endorsed Maniaci. However, it's hard to ignore the fact that Alds. Mike Verveer, Satya Rhodes-Conway and Marsha Rummel—all of whom represent districts surrounding District 2—have endorsed Stevenson in the race.
And unlike fellow Madison Common Council candidate Kyle Szarzynski, Stevenson uses his progressivism as a bridge to find common values, rather than a crutch to rationalize his hostility toward those that do not agree with him.
Though important, the issue of downtown safety often gets overplayed in Madison city council races, and has become a campaign talking point with little real meaning. Unfortunately, Stevenson and Maniaci present similarly vague ideas to improve safety downtown.
Like safety, increased building inspections have been a campaign talking point for city candidates for years, but unfortunately such campaign promises have not developed into much more than that. We need an alder on the council that will actually follow through on the perennial promise of increased inspections to ensure safety and affordability for student housing. And though building inspections may not be in his wheelhouse, Stevenson's activist track record holds promise that he will crusade for causes that often get overlooked in favor of more obvious initiatives such as building projects.
This is not to say Stevenson is anti-development. On the contrary, he has already formulated plans to develop the plot of land on East Washington Avenue that the city recently bought from a defunct car dealer. This plot has the potential to re-invigorate an area that has become an expanse of urban sprawl, both symbolically and economically.
The city's Alcohol License Density Ordinance, which limits the number of bars downtown, is one broken policy that receives considerably less coverage in favor of vague discussions about safety downtown. We need a strong voice on ALDO, and Stevenson, who is well-versed in city policy minutiae, is capable of providing that voice.
As a pragmatic activist willing to work with dissidents, we are confident Sam Stevenson is the best fit for District 2 alderman.