How can our local leaders directly help those they govern? This is a question that I have heard time and time again from students in District 8.
I have also heard that I am not the right person to answer these questions because I am an 18-year-old male freshman.
I seek to dispel this notion.
I will help students by working tirelessly to improve our community. I will put in whatever time is necessary to accomplish my goals. If you want a meeting with me, I will set one up. If you send me a message or make a phone call, I will respond. An alder is an advocate.
I have been to several Madison Common Council meetings and Dane County Board meetings since I moved here. Why? Because I want to learn. If there are issues that affect students, I need to know what they are and how to counter them.
This is why I meet regularly with alders, board supervisors, local union organizers and former elected officials.
I have heard the sentiment that we cannot take a stance on issues concerning public safety in this district “without a woman at the table” in the seat I am running for. I want to make it clear that just because I am a man, it does not mean that I am ill-equipped or uninformed to comment on this matter. I do admit that I have different experiences regarding public safety than women do, and by acknowledging this, I want to use the alder position as a means for facilitating discussion on how to improve overall campus safety for everyone, but especially self-identifying women.
With my age, there will certainly be a learning curve if elected. This doesn’t make me much different from other students on this campus, as we are all undoubtedly going through learning experiences as well.
To learn even more about local government, I founded the student chapter of International City/County Management Association here at UW Madison. I want to connect students to local government and educate them on how local government impacts them; as well as how they can impact local government. This is also why I have monthly lunches with the city administrators in our county.
Political activism is important. However, we need to do this in a way that does not alienate either side. Local government should never be partisan. It is about the issues that affect people and how we can fix them. This level of governance means that local leaders can directly engage with those they represent, creating a positive social environment.
I spent this past election cycle interning for the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, fighting for the sustainability of our state’s environment and natural resources. I traveled across the 17th District in Southwest Wisconsin, engaging with constituents of different ideologies than myself. As alder, I can use those experiences to my advantage and will be better equipped to hear what issues affect everybody and not just side with my own beliefs - this is a promise that I will maintain throughout my entire campaign, and term if elected. It is boring to live in a world where everyone is the same. Everyone has a voice that deserves to be heard.
Just this past Monday, I testified at the Joint Finance Committee Hearing at the Capitol, arguing for the need to protect democracy and student voting rights.
I have already been working to develop my platform within the community. Through my internship with the Associated Students of Madison, I have been collaborating with our current alder (who is not seeking re-election) to revitalize various Neighborhood Associations in the District.
Additionally, I have recently been appointed to the Joint Campus Area Committee and Landlord & Tenant Issues Committee, which both work to combat housing insecurities.
I am truly honored to be working with such an amazing group of students here at UW. I could not ask for a better campaign team. Without their help, I would not have made it this far. And now to go even further, I will need your help as well.
Politics needs transparency, which is what I am fighting for. I am as honest as they come and I am not afraid to share the truth on matters that affect our community. This is what we need in our political system. If you ask me my stance on an issue, I will tell you. If you ask me how I feel about a certain organization, I will tell you. If you ask me how I feel about my opponent, I will tell you.
I have taken the necessary steps to properly serve as alder, and I am the candidate who will be a student for students.
Matthew is a freshman running to represent District 8 on Madison's City Council. What do you think about the candidates? Send all comments to email@example.com.