If the candidates for District 8 Alder are any indication, the future of local politics in Madison is clearly bright.
Both Avra Reddy and Matthew Mitnick are first-year students running for a seat on Madison’s City Council. As out-of-state students, both Reddy and Mitnick reveal the unique and exciting nature of this local election cycle. And that is not where their similarities end. Though they have different priorities if elected, their campaigns are centered around many of the same issues. When speaking with The Daily Cardinal’s Editorial Board, both candidates spoke extensively on campus safety, affordable housing and sustainability, which they identified as the most important issues for students.
Both candidates are clearly committed to public service and representing students at the city level. While navigating the challenges that the first year of college often brings, Reddy and Mitnick also spent the last few months knocking on doors and talking to students about their concerns. They have also taken it upon themselves to become heavily acquainted with the campus community. Reddy was involved with the Democratic Party of Wisconsin during both the 2016 presidential election and the 2018 midterm election, while Mitnick was an intern for the Associated Students of Madison and continues to be involved with several ASM committees. Though their resumes alone are impressive, one only needs to spend a few minutes with either candidate to realize their passion for governance.
However, it is the belief of the Editorial Board that only one candidate demonstrates both concrete policy ideas and the will to enact them.
Very few freshmen speak so enthusiastically about neighborhood zoning, methods of public financing and civic transparency and engagement, yet they were all mentioned during our conversation with Matthew Mitnick. The board was continually impressed by his depth of knowledge on all issues and unique approach to problems that District 8 has faced for a long time.
Due to his extensive knowledge, experience with city-level government and passion for student leadership on city-wide issues, The Daily Cardinal Editorial Board has decided to endorse Mitnick for District 8 Alder.
Mitnick and his team have already put extensive thought into policies, such as improving the nighttime safety of the Lakeshore Path, an issue students have rallied behind for many years, though little progress has been made. Increasing the number of lights and emergency buttons on the path is a solution that is continually suggested and simultaneously shot down for a number of reasons. Mitnick explained some of these reasons, primarily the ecological impact of emergency lights on the animals living in the Nature Preserve, but also described a number of ways these concerns could be mitigated. If elected, he stated that working on lighting the Lakeshore Path would be his first goal. He suggested the lights be solar powered, motion activated, three-feet tall and even added that art students could help make the lights more aesthetically pleasing and symbolically significant, as not to disrupt from the natural landscape.
In regard to affordable housing, Mitnick plans on taking a multifaceted approach for maximum success. Whether it’s trying once again to implement Tax Incremental Financing and Tax Incremental Districts (as has been done in cities like Burbank, CA), accessing affordable housing funds, ensuring affordable housing set-asides of 20-30 percent per development, or even promoting co-op and community-driven housing, Mitnick has a handful of approaches at his disposal.
Most significantly, Mitnick clarified his position on the development of the 222 N. Charter St. property, which has often been misconstrued. He advocated against this housing development project primarily because the proposed building was simply too large for the lot. The construction of the building, he noted, would have shortened the sidewalks to 7 feet in width, rather than the required 10 feet, making it unsafe for all and inaccessible for people with disabilities. Matthew said units would also sell for $2,000 a month, which he strongly feels should not be promoted in an area heavily populated by college students, who are unlikely to be able to afford that rate.
Clearly, Mitnick and his team put a considerable amount of thought into not just one, but every policy position. Whether it’s affordable housing or public safety, Mitnick thinks about the economic, social, political and even environmental impacts of all his possible solutions. Such thorough, cross-disciplinary approaches to these pertinent issues have led the Editorial Board to firmly believe he is the best candidate to fulfill the District 8 Alder position.
Mitnick also mentioned his platforms have evolved since the beginning of his campaign after knocking on thousands of doors over the course of the year.
“Those doors are where the platforms happen,” Mitnick said. “After speaking with students, hearing their concerns, hearing what they care about, that’s where the platform has taken shape. They are the voices that I elevate.”
This student-centered philosophy is also what he plans on taking to City Council. When asked how he would deal with conflicts with other alders due to his age or lack of experience, he said “It is the constituents, the people in this district, who are electing me, not those other councilmembers. So if anyone is going to tell me what to do, it’s going to be the students.”
Mitnick has proven time and time again that his focus remains the betterment of Madison and the university community. We strongly believe Mitnick is the candidate who can best represent the interests of UW-Madison students because of his passion for cooperative governance, extensive knowledge and willingness to learn from the other alders. The Daily Cardinal Editorial Board urges all members of this campus to vote on April 2 for Matthew Mitnick for District 8 Alder, for he truly is “a student for students.”