Here are David's stances on the issues he sees as currently most important to District 13 and the city as a whole. If you feel he has failed to address a topic area that is important to you, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Madison's economy is booming, and those who are lucky enough to have a good-paying job at one of our many innovative companies are able to live life in this city like never before. But when you take an ever-increasing standard of living, combine it with a surging population, and add them both to a city that has already been dealing with a low housing stock for years, you can very quickly develop a situation where many residents are priced out of their own city. And it is already happening here: in 2018, the average rent in Madison was more than 33% of a first-year teacher’s income. We need to work aggressively to make sure that we continue to increase the stock of affordable housing in this city, both by pushing for formal affordable units when possible and by promoting responsible, infill redevelopment more generally.
Specifically, we should increase the annual funding for Madison’s Affordable Housing Fund from $4.5 million to $6 million, so that we can keep up with rising construction costs and continue or exceed our current pace of building affordable units. We also need to bring affordable housing developments to wealthy areas of Madison, such as the Monroe St corridor, to help ensure that we are not only building these units in existing low-income areas, which only further entrenches segregation in this city. Finally, I continue to support construction of Heartland Housing’s third Housing First location on S Park St in District 13. The City and Heartland of course need to learn from the experiences at the first two locations, but we can’t let challenges and setbacks keep us from doing the important social justice work of stabilizing the lives of homeless people in our community. The work is too important, and Madison has too much of a history of talking about social justice without taking tangible actions to support it, for us to stop this project now.
You can't tackle an affordable housing crisis and an expected increase in population of 70,000 people by 2040 without increasing housing capacity somewhere, and in general I am supportive of responsible infill development that helps our city avoid urban sprawl. But that doesn't mean all development proposals should be automatically approved, and it doesn't mean that developers should be able to ignore the needs and concerns of our existing residents. I believe that near neighbors should have a genuine seat at the table, early in the process, for any major development proposal, and I believe that most development projects will end up better for it. This approach worked well when Urban Land Interests proposed a redevelopment of the Associated Bank site in my neighborhood in 2018: we brought people together, aired our concerns, achieved several significant revisions to the original design, and still saw the project move forward in the end. The key is simple: genuine participation and flexibility on both sides.
When I was living in California, I regularly talked up my hometown to anyone who would listen. I told them about Madison being named the best city to live in in the country and how we had the nation's largest producers-only farmer's market. But I found myself almost never talking about our city's race relations or economic mobility for people of color, despite the fact that I could easily advertise us as one of the most proudly liberal cities in the country. The fact of the matter is that I was embarrassed by the disparity between our actions and our words, a decades-old stain on our city's reputation.
I have some ideas for what we can do to make progress on these issues. Continuing to examine the policies and practices of our police force is certainly wise, and need not be seen as an attack on our first responders. That’s why I support the adoption of all of the recommendations in the recent OIR report, as well as the creation of an appropriate oversight body. Ensuring that when we promote affordable housing, we do so evenly throughout the city, can start to make a dent in our extreme levels of segregation, which is why I want to bring affordable housing to Monroe St and continue to support our existing Housing First endeavors. Supporting job training programs and other initiatives aimed at increasing economic mobility can also make a difference.
But above all, I recognize that as a straight, white, male, I do not have the perspective of people who have lived the minority experience in our city. As a leader in a diverse district and a diverse city, I first and foremost seek advice from those who do have that perspective, and use my position to amplify and promote their good ideas. That’s also why I’m proud to have supported three candidates of color in 2019’s School Board races: the most important thing we can do, bar none, is increase the diversity of voices present and voting on our city’s decision-making bodies.
Planning for the future
The incredible flooding of late summer 2018 was a stark reminder that the effects of climate change are already upon us and that Madison will not be exempted. We have a good track record of taking action to help prevent climate change, but the reality is that we also need to take more action to adapt to it. This is just one of several examples of areas in which our city leadership needs to take steps to prepare for future challenges in addition to present ones. Another example is self-driving cars, which represent an incredible opportunity to save lives and increase efficiency, but also could be another example of the tech economy disrupting the lives and livelihoods of our hardest working residents if we don't manage it well. Before I got my public policy degree at Stanford, I was helping to develop self-driving cars in the mechanical engineering department there; my original focus in public policy was technology policy and how to best prepare for the future. I bring this experience and perspective with me in everything that I do.
The City Engineering department has already done a lot of work identifying the highest priority infrastructure projects to improve our stormwater management and reduce the chances of another flooding event like August 20, 2018. We need to prioritize funding as many of those projects as we can in our next few capital budgets, so that we get that work done quickly. 8/20/2018 may have technically been classified as a 100-year flood event, but in retrospect we will be considering it much more common than that, so now is the time to prepare for it. We can also continue our work of preventing climate change by reauthorizing the MadiSUN solar program, installing more electric vehicle charging stations throughout the city, and finishing building our new bus barn so that we can electrify our Madison Metro fleet. Using the money from the VW emissions scandal to buy new Diesel-powered buses was the right decision, but it had embarrassing optics; we need to quickly get to a place where we can support electric buses in Madison so we don’t have to make choices like that.
Listening to you
In the paragraphs above, I have tried to give you a sense of my priorities and my values. But my most important job as a local leader is to be responsive to your needs and concerns as they arise. This is where I can make a real difference, because I bring with me a particular reputation for genuinely listening and creatively synthesizing; I am known for finding the common ground that others did not see. My approach is summed up in the campaign slogan I chose: listen, learn, lead. It's not rocket science, but it makes a huge difference, and there isn't nearly enough of it in our politics today. With me as a leader, you will feel genuinely heard and represented. You won't always get exactly what you want--none of us can achieve that every time--but you and your opinions will be respected, honored, and validated at all times.