Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge the City of Madison is facing? Why? What would you propose the city do to address this issue?

A: Drug addiction is the biggest challenge the City of Madison is facing. This is a problem we can’t solve on our own – it requires partnerships with the State and Federal governments, community organizations, and everyone in the neighborhoods most affected by this scourge. What we can do, though, is ensure the small problems that contribute to drug addiction and violence are thoroughly taken care of.

We can’t expect to solve our biggest problems if we’re unable to take care of the basics. Strategic infrastructure investment and structural reforms at City Hall will make a real difference in our community.

The first step — one we should already be taking — is to invest in our police department and more consistently enforce the law. Whether it is a traffic violation, squatting, or a drug investigation, each deserves consistent and strict enforcement of the law to discourage negative behaviors at their root. Our judges and prosecutors must do their part, too, to ensure individuals with long histories of criminal behavior are not quickly returned to the streets.

Secondly, we must invest in infrastructure improvements for our most vulnerable neighborhoods. A neighborhood cannot change for the better if the city is not willing to invest in its infrastructure. Neighborhoods without quality sidewalks, roads, and drainage are unlikely to attract the residents and private investments needed to improve a neighborhood and decrease the crime and behaviors that stem from easy access to drugs.

Community partnerships will allow us to work with neighbors and stakeholders to identify and isolate problems as we collaboratively work towards solutions. Leveraging federal and state resources to provide transient housing, addiction treatment, and increased access mental health providers will contribute to solving this problem, but we can’t expect these things to happen overnight. This is a problem that has developed over decades and will take years to solve, but if we diligently work towards our goals positive changes will begin to take root in our community.

Q: If there was any city policy that you could change on your own at this moment, which would it be and why?

A: Our Water Department does not hold individuals accountable for their bills. I would change this policy and ensure the person who opened the account is responsible for paying, rather than leaving ultimate responsibility on the property owner. This policy has enabled a group of people who play the system to move from house to house, running up water bills and skipping out on them. Too often these same people are the ones contributing to the crime and drug problems in a neighborhood.

Other utilities do not operate like this. There is assistance available for people who have trouble affording their bills but individuals who refuse to pay should not be allowed to open a new water account before paying their original bill.

Q: If you are elected, in what order would you address the following issues? Order them by which needs to most immediate action to least immediate action.

A: Substance abuse, crime, transportation/mobility, job creation, homelessness, suicide, small business assistance, hilltop enhancement, downtown parking.

Q: The students representing Madison during this year’s Student Government Day passed a resolution that calls for action by the city to create incentives for local graduates to come back to work, live, etc. Do you agree that this resolution was necessary? If so then, how would you propose the city go about meeting this call to action? What kinds of incentives would you propose? How would you market them to the wide array of interests and alumni that Madison produces? How would you measure your program’s success? If not, why?

A: I agree this resolution was necessary, but do not believe incentives are the proper approach. Many young people do not want to return to a cities without economic opportunity and a high quality of life. I moved back to Madison to live after attending school and working out of state because I love this city. It’s home. Home has different meanings for different people, though. Why would you want to move back to Madison if you grew up in a neighborhood riddled with crime that went unpunished and infrastructure that wasn’t properly tended? We need to work towards making Madison a community everyone is proud to call home – regardless of their economic status or the neighborhood in which they were raised. Continuing to build a city that is full of opportunity and vibrancy is the first step towards retaining our youth. We must work to increase access to good paying jobs, attract diverse recreation opportunities, and create a safe and well run city. If the quality of place is there, the people will want to come home.