This past Thursday, College Democrats of UW-Madison elected to endorse student candidates Max Prestigiacomo and Elena Haasl for the upcoming April 7 elections for District 8 Alder and District 5 County Board of Supervisors respectively.
During the meeting, Prestigiacomo and Haasl laid out their campaign platforms, both emphasizing the importance of student involvement within local politics.
They noted voter turnout in student majority districts has been exceptionally low, especially when compared to participation rates in other districts.
“There are a lot of barriers for college and even high school students,” Prestigiacomo said.“I’ve witnessed so many opportunities where young people are passed up on due to their age, but young people have these out-of-the-box, sideways-thinking solutions that we need right now.”
Both candidates have pledged to increase the local government’s student outreach, with Haasl specifically citing her involvement in a number of student organizations — such as the College Democrats — as an attempt to receive further input from her potential constituency.
“Being a presence on campus is extremely important,” Haasl stated. “After all, what’s a better way to get to know your representative than to sit with them in class, ride with them on the bus or study with them at the library? This provides a unique opportunity that, if a student weren’t to be representing the student district, would be completely lost.”
Prestigiacomo also shared he would not support legislation that would change the city’s common council from twenty part-time alders to ten full-time members, as this change would make it considerably more difficult for a student to represent District 8.
Apart from student outreach, the candidates campaigned on a number of progressive policies focused on social justice and environmental issues.
Haasl voiced her intent to expand the availability of mental health services and sexual violence prevention programs on campus, pointing to both as major issues facing students currently attending UW Madison.
In regards to sexual violence prevention, Haasl cited the 2019 AAU survey conducted at UW-Madison that indicated 1 in 4 female undergraduates at the university would experience sexual violence while on campus — saying they were “horrifying” and merited an expansion of services, such as the rape crisis center.
Prestigiacomo also promised to confront issues surrounding Madison’s greenhouse gas emissions, claiming he has already constructed a plan to help reduce the city’s environmental impact.
“My plan for addressing the climate crisis involves addressing social inequities on campus and around Madison. You cannot have climate action without addressing issues of social justice,” he stated.
Prestigiacomo, running unopposed for the District 8 Alder seat, easily secured his endorsement from the UW-Madison College Democrats. Haasl also obtained her endorsement with ease, as her opponent in the District 5 County Board Supervisor race, José Rea, was notably absent from the meeting.
“I think an important part of aspiring to be a representative in a predominantly student district is showing up to student events and seeking out student endorsements,” Haasl said after the meeting. “I’m here because I want to talk to students and discuss the issues that are important to them.”