Dear District 20 residents,
I have decided that I will not run for another term on the City Council, my tenure will end in April, 2019. It has been a distinct honor to serve you the past eight years. My time on Council has been the most rewarding of my professional life, in large part because of the work we have done together. Collaborating and problem solving on issues large and small has consistently reinforced my belief that Southwest Madison is made up of decent, dedicated and diverse residents who want their neighborhood to be better for everyone. We tackled challenges like inequity, sustainable community investment, and violence prevention with a “can do” spirit that was inspiring to be a part of. Thank you for your compassion and dedication to our neighbors and neighborhoods, without that, this job would have been much more difficult.
There are tangible accomplishments we can tick off like new and renovated neighborhood centers, an expanded and modernized library, investments in grassroots neighborhood organizations, traffic calming measures, improved parks, and expanded programs and services for kids and families, among others. However, I believe there is something else we achieved that can’t quite be measured by amount of dollars invested or numbers of people who were served. I think we demonstrated to the rest of the city that neighbors can accept the reality of a changing society/city/neighborhood and yet not accept the reality of disparate impacts in their community. We also did not allow the narrative that had been created about us to define us.
While there certainly is progress yet to be made in our community, I am a big believer that perception affects reality. We didn’t accept that Southwest Madison is “troubled,” on a “downward spiral,” or home to a “criminal element,” descriptions that were commonly used (and perpetuated by area elected officials) when I decided to run for office. We didn’t accept those terms mainly because they were never true! At the same time, we were level headed enough to understand that there was serious work to be done to make our neighborhoods better for everyone. We rolled up our sleeves and got to work. We faced the challenges of a changing city and neighborhood head on. We valued each other’s worth, we tolerated each other’s opinions and we believed in each other’s right to opportunity and accessibility. The work, while difficult and messy at times, produced results. The results, therefore, began to change the narrative and more importantly gave people reason to believe in their neighborhood and in their neighbors.
I believe we are on an upward trajectory to creating truly strong, self-sustainable and inclusive neighborhoods that work for everyone! To get there, however, there is much work to be done and I have no doubt that the good folks in District 20 are up to the task. Our challenges are persistent. Violence is still too common and therefore we need to continue to support a comprehensive approach to violence prevention. Additionally, we are facing a crisis in our city and by extension in our neighborhoods, of a lack of housing that families can afford. This creates instability and has far-reaching effects on employment, education, public safety, etc. We don’t have to wait for city-wide solutions to take effect; there already are neighborhood efforts underway to identify solutions to assist people with housing stability. Let’s scale them up! We also have much work to do in the area of employment and workforce development although, again, there are local successes we can build on. We need to continue our momentum of investing in homegrown programs and initiatives that support kids and families, but we should do better using data to evaluate and improve them. And lastly, we must keep the faith that, in our changing neighborhoods, as long as we continue to respect the rights of everyone to live, play and work here we will continue to grow into the place we want it to be; a safe, vibrant, and fun place to live.
Thank you for all your support over the years.