Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


City Council candidates discuss views regarding student issues

Members of the Madison City Council are up for reelection this spring, and two major districts in the University of Wisconsin campus area feature more than one candidate.

Ald. Robbie Webber, District 5, whose district includes the lakeshore dorms, will face Ben Moga in the upcoming election. Moga was out of the country and was unavailable for comments. Ald. Austin King, District 8, who represents the southeast residence hall occupants, College Court and the majority of Langdon Street, is challenged by Awesome Car Funmaker band member Ryan Corcoran and Kami Eshraghi, owner of Kimia Lounge.

The State Street area’s representative, Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, is uncontested this spring, along with Ald. Brenda Konkel, District 2, whose constituency includes part of Langdon Street.


The city of Madison is divided into 20 districts, each headed by an alder. The City Council is comprised of the mayor and the 20 alders. Alders have the ability to make a big difference on campus and throughout the city — including city-budget changes, community initiatives and laws such as the recent minimum-wage ordinance — according to Verveer, who previously served as the City Council president.

“City council is the closest level of government to the people,” Verveer said.

Webber said she works closely with her constituents and spends time teaching people how to be advocates and how to talk to their representatives and get things done.

“Both Austin and I would like students to understand how to access the city government better,” Webber said. “I would love to see students involved.”

District 4: Mike Verveer

Minimum wage: Verveer is very proud of Madison for being the first municipality in Wisconsin to take a step forward and enact a minimum-wage law.

Smoking ban: Although his proposals to compromise the smoking ban by lessening the blow to bar and restaurant owners failed, Verveer hopes to exempt cigar bars from the smoking ban before it is enacted this summer. He is worried about the noise and litter from patrons who now must smoke outside and is curious how bars with long lines will deal with smokers who step outside for a few minutes.

Halloween: “We should mend it, not end it,” Verveer said. He also said many of the proposals are unrealistic, and Halloween is an important tradition for the city of Madison and the UW campus.

Homelessness: “I really appreciate the efforts of the warming shelter campaign,” Verveer said, adding that the issue usually does not receive enough attention. He said the city works to help the homeless, but needs to create more affordable housing.

Personal statement: Verveer said he considers the students in all matters the City Council faces and finds many of the issues he focuses on to be student issues.

District 5: Robbie Webber

Minimum wage: Webber said she believes the minimum-wage law should be statewide, but since the state is not willing to act, the city government must protect the lowest paid workers. She said she also believes the lawsuit from the Main Street Coalition for Economic Growth has no merit.

Smoking ban: “This is no longer some unheard of unusual legislation,” Webber said, citing places like New York, Ireland and Italy that have smoking bans. “I think the bar owners have severely underestimated the amount of business they have lost because people are unwilling to submit themselves to smoky conditions.”

Halloween: “I honestly don’t know the best way to deal with people who are being irresponsible,” Webber said. “I am extremely saddened by the fact that the people who live here in Madison and who make this their home allow other people to trash the city.”

Homelessness: Webber said there are rules for homeless shelters that protect the people who stay there from people that may become violent and harm them. That means some people are not allowed in shelters and it is hard to decide what to do with those people, she added. Webber said she believes Madison has a very good shelter system in general.

Personal statement: Webber said she has worked hard the past two years and thinks it is important to be aware of the issues that affect the university community. Webber, who spent her undergraduate and graduate years at the UW, said she chose to live near campus because the energy of the downtown and the university are very important to her.

District 8: Austin King

Minimum wage: “I’m very proud of the city for adopting it,” King said. “The final hearing is March 30, and I have no doubts we will prevail.”

Smoking ban: King said he worked with Verveer to create amendments to the smoking ban, although all three failed. He said he ended up voting for the smoking ban because that is what the majority of his constituents supported.

Halloween: “There are lots of great options to explore,” King said. King has worked closely with ASM and said he has been disappointed that the UW administration has not been more involved in this issue. He said he does not believe Halloween should be shut down.

Homelessness: King said he believes the city has helped solve deeper causes of poverty through the minimum-wage law and affordable housing that he has spearheaded. King said he hopes the city can create a realistic program for more beds and services for the homeless and find a way to fund it.

Personal statement: “It makes sense that District 8 be represented by a young, active person,” King said. King said he has the most experience and has done an excellent job in the last two years getting his constituents involved and working with the student government.

Ryan Corcoran

Minimum wage: Corcoran said he believes the cost of living must match the wages of the people, and the city must focus on more affordable housing. The minimum wage needs to be increased on a national level and should not be done in individual municipalities, he added.

Smoking ban: “I’m partly for the smoking ban, but I think it needs to be amended so bars have a right to choose,” Corcoran said.

Halloween: Corcoran said he believes Halloween has been handled poorly in the past and City Council members are not taking a realistic approach to the event. “We could really take advantage of Halloween as something positive for the city,” he said.

Homelessness: “This is a very sensitive issue for me,” Corcoran said. “If the city doesn’t do something about it, no one will.”

Personal statement: Twenty-four-year-old Corcoran said he is a confident candidate who will represent the interests of UW students because “I’m right here with them.”

Kami Eshraghi

Minimum wage: Eshraghi said he believes communities will be competing with each other if there are different minimum wages across the state. In the long battle for a minimum-wage law, the business community has not been consulted, he added.

Smoking ban: “I feel that people downtown should be treated like adults,” Eshraghi said. “We should be allowed to make our own decisions.” Eshraghi said he believes several local employers will lose business on campus due to the smoking ban.

Halloween: “I think it needs to be fixed,” Eshraghi said. “Don’t kill it, fix it.”

Homelessness: Every city is responsible for taking care of the poor and the homeless, Eshraghi said. “If you are on drugs, there are other places that they could seek help, and shelters should not be used for that,” Eshraghi said. “I think that is the core of the problem that we are having.”

Personal statement: Eshraghi said he is one of the few people running for City Council who grew up in Madison. “One thing I can guarantee everyone is that they can finally have representation on the common council,” Eshraghi said. “I have vested interests in this area.”

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