Tuesday night, the nation held its breath as the race for the presidency between Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton neared its end.
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Ald. Zach Wood, District 8, had hoped that America was beyond that, past the deep racial issues that are rooted in America’s history.
Clearly, we’re not, he said.
“I had hoped there was enough goodness to see that this is a guy that what he says, what he does and what he brings out should be nowhere near the White House,” Wood said. “I think we view the presidency, in theory — in a romantic way — as being the best of us, and we’ve elected a man who has brought out the worst in us.”
Similarly, Dane County Board Supervisor Hayley Young, District 5, was surprised by the result of Tuesday night. As folks are still processing the election, she said it’s different from anything she’s ever seen.
Having worked in political campaigns before, Young said she understood that there is always a possibility to lose. But this election, she said, is not just a simple loss.
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“This is so much more,” Young said. “Not having your party be in charge is concerning for some people.”
With Washington D.C. becoming entirely Republican-controlled, Wood said local elected officials now have an enormous responsibility to push for progressive ideals.
In a lot of people’s minds, this election looks like it’s going to move the country backwards with regards to equity, Young said. At the local level, both Young and Wood said now is the time to work on getting progressive legislation passed.
The 2017 Dane County budget, Young said, will do exactly that as its focus, like the title suggests, is investing in the future.
“We’re investing money in climate change, criminal justice reform, pay equity — doing these things for vulnerable members of our community,” Young said.
Along with working to implement progressive legislation for the community at large, the two elected officials also hope to make their vulnerable communities feel comfortable and safe.
Within the first two days of Trump’s election to the presidency, people have reported hate and bias incidents around the country.
For many people, with Trump’s election, they feel like their identity has been invalidated, Young said.
“It’s not necessarily the policies, but the things that have become acceptable to say,” Young said.
Back in October, Young passed an anti-hate and bias resolution geared at reaffirming Dane County’s commitment to its Muslim community. Now, as Trump’s rhetoric has gained him the Oval Office, Young said it’s important all communities feel comfortable going to their local officials.
Similar to Young’s resolution, Madison City Council will be introducing a measure reaffirming the city’s values of inclusion, equity and justice, Wood said.
According to the resolution’s text, the Mayor and the council condemns Islamophobia, racism, sexism and xenophobia in rhetoric and action. The resolution will be introduced at the next City Council meeting Nov. 14.
“We value those who have been targets of Trump’s rhetoric,” Wood said.
While Wood said he understands incidents rooted in racism and prejudice have always been in America’s fabric, he is incredibly saddened to see this type of rhetoric and actions taken against students.
As the University of Wisconsin campus has seen an increase in hate and bias incidents in the last year, Wood said he is concerned it’s only going to elevate again with Trump’s election.
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But Wood said he hears and understands the concerns of his constituents, and plans on dealing with it at the local level.
“Fifty million voted to say [our vulnerable communities] don’t matter,” Wood said. “We want to reaffirm to them that they still do.”