With nomination papers for positions on the Dane County Board of Supervisors currently circulating, a longtime representative of the West Side of the University of Wisconsin campus has decided not to run for reelection in 2006.
Supervisor Echnaton Vedder, District 5, has served on the Dane County Board since 1998, representing students near the shores of Lake Mendota. He expressed warm thoughts of the position he will continue to hold until he is replaced in April 2006.
"It has been an honor to represent my constituents, many of whom are UW students," Vedder said. "I have learned so much through this experience and would urge people to get involved in local politics like I have."
Ald. Austin King, District 8, said Vedder was his role model for getting involved in Madison local politics as an alderperson, adding Vedder's presence will be missed on the board.
"[Vedder] was a trailblazer for students in politics in the late '90s," King said. "I think his good-natured demeanor is what the board will miss most. Even though he is very liberal, he really gets along with everyone on the board, even the more conservative members."
Among his accomplishments while on the board was the construction of the UW radio tower. Vedder said this was his most notable achievement and one of which he is very proud.
"The radio tower helped bring us a legitimate and well-respected student radio station to UW," he said.
According to Vedder, bringing about a change as big as a radio tower does not take as much coercion as it would seem.
"Students should realize that they can make meaningful changes at the local level," he said. "Most movements for change start with just a few people who are passionate about an issue. Students need to realize how influential they can be even if they are only going to be here for four or five years."
Vedder said after eight years of dedicated service, Madison's downtown could use some new leadership. He added that he hopes his successor does something about Dane County's problems with water quality and racial inequity.
"There is a definite issue with the incarceration of people of color," he said. "Fifty percent of the people in Dane County jails are people of color, but people of color make up only 12 percent of the entire county population."
It is not just a problem for the supervisors, but an issue with which Madison and the rest of the county must deal, he said.
"This issue involves the Madison Police Department, the Dane County Deputies, the DA's and the judges, as well as citizens," Vedder said. "We've had problems in the past with racial profiling by law enforcement. I would also like to see more minority recruitment in the Sheriff's Office."
A UW alumnus, Vedder cited his career path as his reason why he is not running for reelection in 2006.
"I'm going to UW-Platteville to get my master's in education and to get certified to teach junior high school," Vedder said. "I would do it [in Madison], but Platteville was the best fit for me."