District 8 Ald. Juliana Bennett and legislative assistant Colin Barushok announced their candidacy for District 2 alder in the April 4, 2023 Common Council election.
Bennett, a business student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has served as District 8 Alder since 2021. Barushok serves as a legislative assistant at the State Senate and has previously served as a medical licensing program associate for Wisconsin’s Department of Safety and Professional Services.
Bennett said she will prioritize addressing Madison’s housing crisis and the city’s budget deficit. In particular, Bennett said she will continue to advocate for affordable housing as District 2 Alder.
“In downtown Madison, we are entering an affordability crisis,” Bennett said. “The current path we are on is limiting who can live, work and do business in downtown Madison. District 2 should be accessible to all people, especially those of low-income status, young people and local businesses.”
Bennett also said she would address the city’s budget deficit, claiming it negatively impacts the city’s ability to invest in public services.
Barushok emphasized his support for improving Downtown Madison’s economy. He said he supports promoting investment in State Street to attract businesses and tourists, including the conversion of the street from Lake to Gorham into a pedestrian mall.
“I will work with experts and do the complicated legwork to achieve a pedestrian mall, starting one block at a time,” Barushok said. “I would support policies to invest in promoting our downtown, which will attract new residents, businesses and tourists. We should also increase food and art vending on State Street and elsewhere.”
Barushok also said he supported increasing the housing supply to improve affordability, as well as adapting historically significant buildings to house more people while preserving historic architecture.
Both candidates expressed support for increasing funding for Madison CARES, an initiative that dispatches mental health care workers to respond to mental health emergencies as an alternative to law enforcement action.
Bennett said her work on the Common Council and her advocacy for issues facing young people shows her commitment to her constituents.
“Over the past two years, I have prioritized bringing the voices of young people to the table,” Bennett said. “We've made significant progress in terms of passing affordable housing policies, creating solutions for the houseless population, funding alternative sources for violence prevention and more. I have a proven track record of prioritizing and fighting for my constituents’ needs.”
Barushok said his experience working with healthcare professionals during the pandemic gave him the tools needed to tackle major issues facing the city.
“I worked with doctors and other healthcare professionals to help them get licenses, provided individualized service, and helped them get to work,” Barushok said. “I learned what it takes for the government and stakeholders to come together to respond to a major crisis.”
Incumbent District 2 Ald. Patrick Heck declined to run for reelection, leaving the seat open in 2023. Heck cited the redistricting map approved by the city in 2021 that placed his residence outside of the District as his reason to not run for reelection.
“While being an alder can be a big job, it is also very satisfying,” Heck said in a statement. “I not only have enjoyed the privilege of representing my constituents, but I have also found great satisfaction working with city staff, other alders, the mayor's office and many stakeholders as we move Madison forward.”
Francesca Pica is the city news editor for The Daily Cardinal. She has covered multiple municipal elections and is a leading reporter on Madison labor issues. Additionally, she will serve as a news intern for The Capital Times throughout the summer of 2023.