Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Know your city alders

Mike Verveer

“Madison…an awesome place.”

A self-described former “ASM nerd,” Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said students always have, and always will be, a priority for him.


“I have always strived to always be in touch with the student body,” he said.

With an appetite for downtown entertainment and nightlife as well as season football, basketball and hockey student vouchers, Verveer uses what little free time he has to get to know University of Wisconsin students, even with the large turnover each year.

A Washington D.C. native, Verveer said he was encouraged to look into attending UW by a congresswoman and UW alumna for whom he interned.

“At first I thought she was nuts,” Verveer said. “I’ve never regretted for a moment, coming here.”

After completing his undergraduate degree in history and political science, Verveer attended UW Law School and now works as an assistant district attorney for Dane County in addition to sitting on City Council.

Verveer had nothing but good things to say about his downtown district and the students who live in it.

“I love my City Council district because it’s tremendously diverse,” Verveer said, noting new housing developments near the Capitol, bringing in non-student residents who want to take advantage of the growing downtown area.

Brenda Konkel

“Madison…funky, eclectic, but changing.”

Students living near James Madison Park may not realize the woman representing their interests in city government is not new to working with college students.

Ald. Brenda Konkel, District 2, spent three years of her undergraduate studies as a resident assistant in an all-girls dorm at University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

“I was probably a little too serious, but yet a troublemaker,” she said, joking that she was one of the more relaxed RAs. “I wasn’t good at following the rules.”

When she was in law school at UW-Madison, Konkel admits she did not pay attention to the rest of the city because she was so focused on her studies.

“I went to the law school and then I went home,” she said, adding she understands students have a lot on their plate as it is.

However, Konkel said she thinks she “missed out on a lot,” and urged students to take hold of the potential power they have in the city.

UW, by its sheer size, is influential in city policy, but Konkel said “sometimes students give up too much.”

“Students can have a really strong voice in the city, if they want to,” she said. “You’ve got four alders that will listen to you.”

Robbie Webber

“Madison…City, State, University”

Self-described as “left of the leftist candidate,” Ald. Robbie Webber, District 5, has a passion for sustainability, specifically with regards to transportation.

With a master’s degree in geography, Webber described Madison’s transportation as “far superior” to other cities of the same size, but described the downtown area as dense and, in some ways, congested.

“That’s partly because the geography of the downtown, the Isthmus,” she said. “There’s only a couple ways into and out of the downtown.”

But before she started working with sustainable transportation issues, Webber spent her undergraduate years enjoying Madison like a typical student.

“I alternately didn’t get enough sleep and slept a lot,” she said. “Partied a lot and studied a lot, somehow managed to get fairly decent grades, despite goofing off a lot of the time.”

Because she transferred for a specific program — Latin American studies — Webber said she was serious about taking advantage of opportunities at UW.

Besides urging students to know their rights, with respect to things like renting and downtown safety, she said she thinks students do not realize how easy it is to be involved with city government.

“The way Madison city government is set up makes it one of the easiest to get involved in,” Webber said, mentioning sitting on committees, such as the Housing Committee, the Public Safety Committee and the Downtown Coordinating Committee, as an avenue for student involvement.

Eli Judge

“Madison… Vibrant, Friendly, Inebriated…no, no, just kidding…Intriguing.”

This University of Wisconsin senior and aspiring law student landed himself a seat on City Council in 2007, but admitted it is not always easy being the only student in city government where there can be a “stigma against the student population.”

“Being called a kid when you’re in a city committee is not the most enabling when it comes to trying to create change,” Ald. Eli Judge, District 8, said. “The first time I ever walked into the Public Safety Review Board, I was told I had to leave the table because The Badger Herald has to sit in back. I just kind of pulled out my name tag and put it on the table and was like, ‘Nope, I think I’ll be staying right here.'”

Judge said if he had to give advice to students, it would be go to meetings, but more practically, they should never make assumptions.

“Assumptions are the mother of all fuck-ups,” he said. “Especially dealing with people who don’t agree with you. The most important thing you can do is listen.”

After his involvement as chair of Students for a Fair Wisconsin, Judge said he felt he got to know what students want and need.

Being someone who “hates uncontested elections,” Judge filed the necessary paperwork to run for alder only four hours prior to the deadline.

Judge said he thinks students overlook city government and shouldn’t do so because the issues are relevant to their everyday life.

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