The elections being held April 1 will determine this city’s future on a wide variety of issues that directly affect our wallets, nightlife, rents, and rights. In short, the outcomes of these elections can have as much of an impact on our daily lives as gubernatorial or presidential elections. I want to take this chance to share with you some of the changes that I will fight for if elected to the Madison City Council:
1. Increase the minimum wage: Far too many of us work for at or near the minimum wage ($5.15/hr), but we have little chance of getting a raise anytime soon. It’s phenomenally difficult to pay for rent, food, and healthcare on $5.15/hr, let alone tuition. I will fight to establish a local minimum wage for the city of Madison that affects all workers. It will start with a small increase to, say, $6.00/hr, but the most fundamental element of my plan is to index the minimum wage to 5 percent inflation so that our wages grow with the economy for years to come.
2. Save drink specials and expand downtown entertainment options: I am the only candidate who has consistently and actively spoken out against a proposed ban on drink specials, and I will continue to work to prevent such a wrong-headed policy from being enacted. I will also push the ALRC for the creation of more establishments where 20-year-olds and 21-year-olds can hang out together, the distribution of more cabaret licenses, which are required for dance floors, and more high-quality, live-music venues that are the backbone of a vibrant downtown arts scene.
3. End the war on drugs and establish sensible drugs policies: You might know that a student caught with even a miniscule amount of marijuana loses his or her eligibility for federal financial aid, which means that, if not wealthy, the opportunity for an education is lost. We must work through a program of mandatory education for city police and ADAs to inform them of the potentially disastrous consequences of such an action. We must also work to ensure that those who report drug activity or underage drinking in the interest of public safety (e.g. an overdose or alcohol poisoning) are not arrested. In general, drug addictions must be approached as health problems and not criminal problems.
4. Security deposit reform and tenants’ rights: To save space, I’ll refer you to a previous editorial I wrote entirely on this subject, so go to www.badgerherald.com and search for “Security Deposit Reform?”
5. Lower rents downtown: I am the only candidate endorsed by the Affordable Housing Action Alliance because of my four-part plan to increase our stock of affordable housing: a) pass a mandatory inclusionary zoning ordinance with a high affordable component; b) invest significant funds into the Affordable Housing Trust Fund; c) reform TIF policies to focus on developing affordable housing; d) liberalize anachronistic density caps to encourage more units, which lowers rents.
Because of space limitations, I cannot properly expound on all of my ideas for improving our city, but I hope you visit www.austinking.org to find out more information on the race. April 1 can mark a changing point in our city’s policies if we elect candidates that will go to bat for students, workers, and tenants.
As a student, tenant, and occasional minimum-wage worker, I am the only candidate in this race that has an agenda and a willingness to improve our daily lives. This improvement won’t come, though, unless we all get out and vote. See you at the polls.