Published: March 28, 2015
Written by: Rebecca Kemble
Last fall when I made the decision to run for alder of District 18, it was not one I took lightly. I’m deeply concerned about how state policy has undermined the ability of working families in our community to take care of their needs, the ability of local communities to set their own standards such as fair housing and living wage rules, and about how catastrophic budget cuts to public education and state aids to local governments have shifted the burdens to local property taxpayers, while making it more difficult for us to deliver the excellent public services Madison has always enjoyed.
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We need to develop new ways to take care of each other and the wide range of infrastructure and human needs of our community. I want to harness our strengths — strong neighborhood associations, neighborhood learning centers, good schools, local food production — to deepen and extend the north side’s engagement with the city, and to transform the way we take care of the city’s business.
I’m a small- and medium-sized business owner and know how to budget and prioritize. As a community organizer, I’ve organized neighbors to participate in local government decisions, and have led successful campaigns to develop neighborhood projects like the school-community gardens at Lindbergh and Blackhawk schools. I’m a leader in the worker cooperative movement with deep experience participating in and creating democratic decision-making processes for businesses.
The top issue facing our community is the uneven economic development that has generated inequality and some of the highest racial disparities in the nation. Increasing inequality is dangerous for all of us, no matter where on the spectrum you fall. If we’re serious about addressing racial inequalities and historical dispossession, we must target the root economic causes, and allocate resources to programs that will help people earn real living wages and build wealth for their families.
The most sustainable, long-term economic development is people-centered. When more people are working and spend money in the community, to buy homes or to improve the ones they already have, we all rise together. Pressures on social services decrease and contributions to the tax rolls and property values increase.
I’ll bring my expertise in worker cooperatives to bear upon the city’s new Cooperative Enterprise Development initiative. Many residents are underemployed or unemployed and have productive skills and experience to put to use, and this business incubation program will help those people create their own cooperative businesses in areas where there is greatest need. In partnership with trades apprenticeship programs and the robust cooperative community in Madison, this program will help people create their own jobs. This is why I have received the enthusiastic support of the working families of AFSCME-PEOPLE, Madison Teachers Inc. and the South Central Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO.
My committed, caring and cooperative vision for District 18 has gained wide ranging support; from state Reps. Chris Taylor, Lisa Subeck and Terese Berceau, to Progressive Dane, the Democratic Party of Dane County and Four Lakes Green Party. I also have the public support of over 400 District 18 residents, including District 18 Ald. Anita Weier, current District 18 Supervisor Michele Ritt and former District 18 Supervisor Dorothy Wheeler.
I look forward to serving the north side and Madison, and would appreciate your vote April 7.