The Madison branch of the Teaching Assistant's Association announced its public endorsement of Ashok Kumar's candidacy for the Dane County Board District 5 Supervisor Wednesday.
Kumar, a University of Wisconsin junior, is one of four candidates in a highly contested race for a local seat opening.
"I'm very proud," Kumar said. "Even though I'm not a T.A. or a graduate student, their issues matter to me and I'll stand up for labor issues at the county board."
According to Kumar, the members "overwhelmingly" supported the endorsement with a vote of 30 to 5.
TAA Political Education Committee Chair Mike Quieto said the members were highly impressed with Kumar's campus activism and knowledge of county issues.
Quieto said the branch had the opportunity to talk with three of the candidates and got a "really good sense" about each of them.
"We were impressed with the level of detailed knowledge about the role of governance," he said. "Ashok clearly demonstrated a stronger command about what the county board does."
Quieto emphasized the importance of knowledge about the county board's jurisdiction, adding while some candidates had good ideas, they concerned policies the county board cannot regulate.
"He was able to make the connections between what needs to get done and pin it to what the county board can do about it," he said. "It really makes a difference between a supervisor and the token student on the board."
Kumar, who is already endorsed by the South Central Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, said he was "flattered" by the support received from the association, adding his activism on campus in student movements like the campus apparel reform reflects his progressive platform.
"They've always voted for progressive labor candidates," he added. "And I've worked on labor issues all my life."
Putting together a platform is hard, Quieto said, adding he was pleased with Kumar's overall platform.
"It's a good broad platform that ties together issues that affect the district and resonates with broad district issues," he said.
With the public endorsement, Kumar said the support of 3,000 members and additional financial support will be helpful.
Quieto said the branch was "genuinely wowed" by Kumar.
"It makes you feel good about democracy, to pick someone not because you don't like the other guy," he added. "He's got a good head on his shoulders and he knows his issues."