Students gathered at Ian’s Pizza to hear 18-year-old University of Wisconsin freshman, Max Prestigiacomo, officially launch his District 8 common council campaign, Wednesday night.
Because Prestigiacomo is running unopposed, he will be the only candidate on the ballot during the April 7 primary election.
Current District 8 Alder and UW graduate student, Sally Rohrer, said it is important to have young people on the common council. Rohrer said in her few months on the council she has already noticed that there are a lot of decisions made about students without their involvement.
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Rohrer said she was supporting Prestigiacomo because of his dedication to advocating for young people and his work on addressing the climate crisis.
“The main reason why I really endorse Max, and why I think he’s the best person for this job, is because of his commitment to the climate crisis, and knowing that as young people we have more skin in the game than people of older generations,” Rohrer said.
Prestigiacomo never expected to be running for city government so soon after graduating from high school, but after learning that only 2% of all representatives on city committees live in District 8, where the majority of residents are young people, he decided to run.
“That statistic, 2%, is why I’m in this race. Young people have been systematically disenfranchised from the political process — we need a champion in youth representation to fight for their rights,” Prestigiacomo said.
Prestigiacomo said this youth engagement is important because, “there can be no decisions made about us without us.” Issues like climate change and affordable housing are especially important for young people to be involved in, Prestigiacomo said.
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Students across campus struggle to find affordable housing and are forced to deal with difficult landlords, Prestigiacomo said, adding that new developments need to cater to students.
Central to all of these issues is the importance of intersectionality. Prestigiacomo said that he would use his privilege as a white ally to reach out to underrepresented communities, especially because of the disparities people of color and low income people face in Madison.
Because District 8 has so many young residents, the outreach and communication between constituents and the common council has to be different — he would engage residents through their phones, by using digital platforms, Prestigiacomo said.
Presigiacomo ended the night by emphasizing the importance of student involvement in the political process.
“You’re gonna hear it over and over again and it’s gonna sound like a broken record, but this campaign is centered around young people — it’s student-run, its grassroots lead, we’re fighting for young people which happen to be 99% of this district,” Prestigiacomo said.