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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Racial equity coordinator announces bid for mayor

Before throwing in her bid for Mayor Wednesday, Toriana Pettaway spent the last three years serving Madison as the city’s first racial equity coordinator.

Pettaway, who is running on a platform of housing reform, transportation accessibility and overall inclusivity, has spent the last several years thinking about those very issues in her position within the city’s Department of Civil Rights’ Social Justice Initiative.

As racial equity coordinator, Pettaway reviews city capital and operational budgets from a social justice perspective. She also oversees interactions between different city departments as well as partnerships between local government and the community at large.

“My job has been to legislate, to teach and to build awareness, and then to galvanize the community,” Pettaway said. “Externally, how do we keep our communities … engaged so that they would be civic minded and want to engage in government in a way that’s meaningful for them?”

She said her experience in this role could give her insights in a mayoral position — both from a leadership standpoint and in terms of the perspectives she’s gained working with community members.

“We have the tales of two cities,” Pettaway said. “We have data that shows that Dane County has the greatest disparities for people of color, particularly African Americans. If you ask those people if they see themselves in this community, they would say they struggle in areas where other people are experiencing great prosperity.”

Pettaway said her vision is a Madison where all citizens can enjoy that prosperity and where they can see themselves represented in the city government.

“We are all Madison,” she said.

Pettaway joins six other candidates in the race for mayor: Raj Shukla, the executive director of River Alliance of Wisconsin, former alder Satya Rhodes-Conway, District 10 Alderman Maurice Cheeks, Tenant Resource Center Executive Director Brenda Konkel who is also a former alder, former Madison School Board member Michael Flores and local comic Nick Hart. Current Mayor Paul Soglin will not run for reelection.

The mayoral election is April 2, 2019, with a primary scheduled for Feb. 19.

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