The mayor’s appointment of University of Wisconsin alumnus Mark Woulf to alcohol policy coordinator will continue to bring the perspective of a recent student to the city’s alcohol policies.
The position, originally created by Mayor Dave Cieslewicz in 2005, holds a non-voting seat on the Alcohol Licensing Review Committee and focuses on the efficiency of policy making overall.
Woulf, currently a voting citizen member of the ALRC, began his tenure when he was still a non-voting undergraduate ASM representative on the Alcohol and Other Drug Task Force standing committee.
He said he got involved in the alcohol policy-making process because there was a need for a student voice on the committee because alcohol policy is something that regularly affects student life.
He added he has since received positive feedback from committee members for lending a student’s perspective and has found student input is extremely valued.
“These policies are such a part of the student experience in Madison, and there are many minds among policy makers that respect a student’s opinion,” Woulf said.
The importance of having a student presence on ALRC motivated Ald. Bryon Eagon, District 8, to introduce a motion to make Woulf’s student post a voting position in September 2009.
Woulf said when he initially joined the committee, his perspective on alcohol-related policies was certainly biased, but learning to understand different perspectives on the issues was a maturing process.
He added his understanding of common student experiences and the direct effects of alcohol policies on students also needed to be balanced with the concerns of the rest of the downtown community.
As Alcohol Policy Coordinator, Woulf said he would work to open lines of communication to allow ALRC debate to run more smoothly.
Woulf said the committee has previously spent time “spinning their wheels” without a coordinator and hopes to facilitate more efficient and constructive policy-making in the future.
He will also strive to remain well-educated on all issues before the committee and know where everyone stands in the process, he said.
He also said he wants new applicants for liquor and entertainment licenses to be more informed of the process and know what types of business plans are most likely to be approved.
Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said he was thrilled by the mayor’s appointment and Woulf would have a significantly shorter learning curve when he takes office.
Verveer, an ALRC member, said the experiences of serving on the interview panel for the position and working alongside Woulf for two years have provided proof the mayor made the right choice.
“He brings a tremendous amount of knowledge to his position and has certainly hit the ground running,” Verveer said. “There’s no denying that Mark brings a new perspective and a sensitivity to the needs of the campus community to the position.”
He said though the office for alcohol policy coordinator is housed in the mayor’s office, the position is not a political appointment and is meant to directly serve ALRC.
Verveer added the position of coordinator is also responsible for assisting current liquor license holders as well as new applicants for licenses.
Woulf will also serve as an instructor for Madison Police Department Tavern Safety Training sessions for tavern owners and will work to help coordinate the city’s response when issues in alcohol policy arise at certain establishments, he said.
The coordinator also works closely with MPD to address concerns with neighbors, a duty that has become more prominent with recent increases in neighborhood noise complaints in some areas.
Verveer said many students fail to realize the immediate effects of city government on student life, though many students rely on the downtown tavern industry for employment or entertainment.
Rachel Strauch-Nelson, spokesperson for Cieslewicz, said the city of Madison and UW fund the position and the mayor wanted an individual who had experience dealing with the issues.
“He wanted to bring a large group of stakeholders together, which Mark has done during his time on ALRC,” Strauch-Nelson said.
She added in an e-mail to The Badger Herald that Woulf would help track bartender licenses and would provide a bartender’s course aimed at promoting safety practices.
Verveer said Woulf would confront several important issues in the first months of his time in office, including the final decision on renewing the Alcohol License Density Ordinance and the temporary closing of several establishments for alcohol-related violations.