Alder-elects Zach Wood, Amanda Hall explain priorities for upcoming campaigns

Madison-natives Zach Wood and Amanda Hall became alder elects Tuesday, being the only candidates to run for their respective districts.

Wood and Hall will be the only candidates listed on the ballot for districts 8 and 3, although voters can still write in the name of another candidate.

“Unofficially official” candidate Wood is slated to become the alder for district 8, replacing Ald. Scott Resnick. He previously did campaign work with Resnick, who was one of the first people to congratulate Wood.

Resnick and four other candidates are running for mayor, including incumbent Paul Soglin.

Wood said while he is not taking the news for granted, he hopes to spend more of his campaign time listening to people rather than selling himself to voters.

“I really think an elected official’s job, first and foremost, is to listen,” Wood said.

Wood is studying political science for a certificate in educational policy studies at UW-Madison. He also worked with the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and College Democrats of Wisconsin and co-founded a nonprofit organization called I M Power focused on civic engagement.

His top priorities include public safety and affordable housing.

“As I’ve said before, what good is a beautiful campus, a great downtown and fantastic nightlife like we have here if people don’t feel comfortable walking to and from State Street?” Wood said.

Wood also said he hopes to improve the city’s dialogue with students because most students live in district 8, and because it is the only predominantly student district.

“That’s kind of been the model of this entire campaign: a voice for students,” Wood said. “I think there’s been plenty of times at city hall where really the student isn’t heard. That’s why I ran, and that’s something I really want to emphasize as I hopefully move into city hall and while I’m on doors outside this winter.”

Wood concluded his interview by saying “Even though we are unopposed, I fully intended to earn each and every vote I receive.”

Alder-elect Hall is running to represent district 3, which covers much of eastern Madison. She is an attorney, an executive director of the nonprofit called Fitchburg Fields, a grassroots organization dedicated to providing healthy food options and information to those who need it, as well as giving hands-on experience with growing a garden.

“I think there is a wonderful opportunity when you have an unopposed race to define yourself and the issues the way you would most like them to be framed,” Hall said. “At the same time, obviously everyone does better with competition. You’re going to run your fastest mile time when there’s someone running right next to you.”

Current Ald. Lauren Cnare, District 3, previously approached Hall about running and shared her perspective on issues for the past few months to help prepare her.

“The City Council is a very intense yet cordial body to be part of,” Hall said. “At the end of the day, people seem to respect each other and care about each other.”

Hall said she is mainly running to make the world a more fair place for everyone.

“That’s one of the reasons I went to law school, to make the world a more just place than it is now,” she said. “I grew up on the southeast side of Madison … so I grew up in a predominantly minority neighborhood, predominantly low-income neighborhood. I saw a lot of stuff that was not fair, but that we can do a lot to address.”

Hall said she hopes to improve race equity and reduce disparity. She also shares Woods’ concern for affordable housing, particularly for families unable to pay high property taxes.

Her priorities also include working to build an additional elementary school in Madison’s eastside and bridge what she calls the “Two Madisons.”

“There’s the Madison where there’s fantastic opportunities for everybody, for everything … and then they can take that places,” Hall said. “And then there’s the Madison that my neighbors unfortunately saw, where they’re getting mixed messages in their neighborhood and schools and outside recreational leagues. Kids don’t really know what the standards are and what happens next after school.”

She said she speaks of the Two Madisons with a tremendous sense of pride, but she wants to bridge the gap between what we think we can be and what we are.

Primaries will be held Feb. 17 for mayor and for aldermanic districts 1 and 14. There are four other contested races for the April 7 election, two between an incumbent alder and challenger and two for open seats. The remaining 12 alders are unopposed.

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