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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Thursday, May 23, 2024
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Courtesy of Travis Austin

Town of Berry supervisor Travis Austin seeks appointment to campus-area Dane County Board seat

Travis Austin, a board supervisor of the Town of Berry, announced his intent to seek appointment to the Dane County Board of Supervisors’ recently vacated District 13 seat.

Town of Berry Supervisor Travis Austin intends to seek appointment to Dane County Board of Supervisors’ recently vacated District 13 seat, he told the Daily Cardinal. 

Austin, a 22-year-old alumni of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, has served as a supervisor for the Town of Berry since April 2022. Berry is a rural Dane County township northwest of Madison. 

The seat was previously held by Olivia Xistris-Songpanya, who resigned last week. District 13 includes much of the UW-Madison campus and many off-campus student neighborhoods between University Avenue and Regent Street. 

Austin hosted a Rural Pride Forum at the Berry Town Hall in June. The town chairman called police on the Pride event after previously opposing efforts to display a Pride flag outside the town hall, a move Austin later described as “unacceptable for the position of town chair.”

Austin said his experience with the forum made him realize “every generation needs to commit to [democracy] for it to be sustained.”

“Implicit and quiet support isn’t enough to lead to actual change. You have to be willing to stand up and be loud for what’s right,” he said.

Individuals interested in the seat vacancies must submit appointment papers containing a minimum of 25 signatures by Friday, Sept. 1, Dane County Board Chair Patrick Miles said in a press release last week. 

Austin told the Cardinal he’s already obtained enough signatures to qualify. 

Although Austin’s primary voting residence is located in the Town of Berry, he said he has a local address at a campus-area apartment.

“The entire county faces many of the same issues — both in rural and urban communities — such as water quality, job opportunities and affordable housing,” he said. “Young voices have the most at stake in government because it’s our futures that will be determined by policies enacted now.”

If appointed, Austin intends to run for reelection in April 2024. 

The county board will hold a public hearing to fill the positions in early September, after which it intends to vote on the appointments at its regularly scheduled meeting on Sept. 21.

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