City News

Madison’s mayoral candidates meet for forum in Humanities building

With the primary election approaching, Madison’s mayoral candidates met in UW-Madison’s Humanities building Thursday to answer questions about issues facing the city. 

Image By: Daniel Klugman

Four of the five candidates for Madison’s mayor answered questions about the city’s future at a mayoral forum in UW-Madison’s Humanities building Thursday.

The Feb. 19 primary is quickly approaching, putting pressure on the candidates to get their message across.

Candidates present for the forum were incumbent Mayor Paul Soglin, District 10 Ald. Maurice Cheeks, former Ald. Satya Rhodes-Conway, Executive Director of River Alliance Wisconsin Raj Shukla and City of Madison Racial Equality Coordinator Toriana Pettaway, who is running as a write-in candidate. Candidate Nick Hart, a local comedian, did not attend.

Many of the questions focused on Madison’s role as a leader in sustainable environmental policy.

"One of the things that makes this place attractive to talent is our environmental quality," Shukla said. He also expressed a desire to convince the community to take “an active approach to reducing our carbon emissions and becoming a hundred percent renewable."

Soglin said he demonstrated his dedication to environmental issues through his 2017 pledge to have Madison follow the Paris Agreement, even after the U.S. withdrew. “Despite the failure in our nation's capital, we will ensure we deal with climate change,” Soglin promised. 

Another focal point was the racial education gaps present in Madison schools.

“We need to focus on the out-of-school time, making sure that kids have access to mentors, to programming,” Rhodes-Conway said. 

She suggested libraries or community centers as ways to engage children outside of the classroom.

Pettaway took the question in a different direction, citing her experience as the mother of a child who dropped out of high school.

“If parents weren’t working two to three jobs, then they have more time to invest with their kids,” she said. “Let's get these kids who are coming out of juvenile corrections … and let’s connect with pathways that are already working in the school system.”

During his closing remarks, Cheeks said he believes Madison needs a mayor willing to take on the major issues.

“Our country needs local leaders now more than ever,” he said. “This is still our country, this is still our state, this is still our city. We need a mayor with a sense of urgency to build a more inclusive, more innovative, more safe city.”

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