Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


One-and-out: Kumar will not seek 2nd term on Dane County Board

The University of Wisconsin's county district representative
announced Wednesday he will not seek a second term on the Dane County Board of
Supervisors in 2008.

Ashok Kumar, 23, who has represented District 5 — which includes
the UW campus — since spring 2006 said he plans to seek other opportunities to
participate in grassroots movements after he graduates in May.

"I have focused on how grassroots movements are the basis
for any progress that I've been able to make," Kumar said. "I want to go back
to [that] type of organizing — I feel disengaged."

Kumar said he plans to continue his work with the Liberty
Tree Foundation that has attempted to nationally democratize universities. He
also plans to possibly move out of the area, possibly to the San Francisco Bay
area or India.

Kumar pointed to the success of progressive reforms in his
work with fair labor standards, non-discriminatory housing practices and jail

Former Madison City Council President Austin King said he is
disappointed in Kumar's decision to not seek reelection, calling him a
"phenomenal public servant."


"He's done a hell of a lot more than any other supervisor in
recent history," King said. "His leadership on campus will surely be missed."

King called Kumar's civil rights legislation a "watershed
movement in Dane County politics," since it was a goal of many in the county
for years.

"We had campaigned in 2001 and 2002 on campus to get Madison
or Dane County to say, 'This is enough,' and we failed by one vote almost every
single time," King said. "At some point the civil rights community had given
up, and here comes this young student who thinks he can move this mountain, and
sure enough, he went ahead and did it."

In his short tenure, Kumar said he's been able to push
progressive reforms and specifically address the black-to-white incarceration
ratio in Dane County.

Kumar said he hopes the next supervisor representing the UW area has a similar
grassroots progressive drive, and could bring diversity to the board.

"I'd look for someone active on campus, and preferably a woman
and a person of color," Kumar said. "If they're progressive, I'd be glad to throw
my support behind them."

King said he shares Kumar's desire to see a more diverse
representation on campus with an activist spirit.

"The committee I was on had seven white guys, not that there's
anything wrong with any one of us," King said. "But it does call into question
if we're committed to diversity, whether we elect diverse representation."

Kumar beat out then-UW freshman David Lapidus in the 2006
general election, and said they remain friends.

However, he said he wouldn't fully support another bid by
Lapidus based on several of his stances, including statements opposing the
living wage amendment while serving on UW’s Students Services Finance

Lapidus, who considers himself more of a centrist on issues
than Kumar, said he has not entirely ruled out running again but will make his
decision in the next few weeks.

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