Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Five UW students to run for Madison Common Council

Current District 8 Alder Juliana Bennett to run for District 2
Audrey Thibert

Five University of Wisconsin students — Juliana Bennett, Maxwell Laubenstein, Samantha Givich, Charlie Fahey and MGR Govindarajan — have announced candidacy for the 2023 Madison Common Council term.

Juliana Bennett will run for District 2 alder, Laubenstein and Givich will both run for District 4 alder and Fahey and Govindarajan will both run for District 8 alder.

The position of District 2 alder was previously held by Patrick Heck, who said he will not run again because redistricting placed his house out of District 2 and into District 6, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. District 2 runs north of the Capitol from North Lake Street on the UW campus to North Blair Street.


Bennett announced her candidacy for District 2 alder Tuesday Nov. 22. In her press release, Bennett said she is running in District 2 due to redistricting and to make room for other UW students to run in District 8 due to her graduating in December.

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Bennett has held the position of District 8 alder since 2021. During her time as alder, Bennett has focused her efforts largely on expanding affordable housing and housing options for the Madison houseless population as well as pushing for alternative public safety options, increasing sustainability in Madison and advocating for underserved people, according to the press release.

Bennett has aided in the approval of the first purpose-built men’s shelter, increased CARES funding and supported the Madison Public Market.

In an email statement to The Badger Herald, Alder Patrick Heck said Bennett brings her two years of experience as the alder for District 8. District 2 is much different than District 8 in terms of its constituents, needs, and issues, but there is some overlap since a fair amount of District 2 has student residents.

“If college students were to represent both District 2 and District 8, students would obviously have a larger voice in city matters,” Heck said. “However, changes to city policy generally require the support of at least eleven of the twenty alders, so working together with many other alders is typically necessary to effect change.”

Charlie Fahey and MGR Govindarajan will run for the position of District 8 alder. District 8 includes most of the UW Campus north of Regent street and east of North Lake Street.

Fahey serves as an Executive Board Member of the Campus Area Neighborhood Association and as a representative in both ASM and SSFC. Additionally, Fahey is a UW Legislative Affairs Committee member and member of the student misconduct panel.

In an email statement to The Badger Herald, Fahey said District 8 is unique and faces unique challenges, so it will take a unique voice to represent it.

“I’m running because I am deeply concerned with housing and the cost of living in Madison,” Fahey said. “Good housing is unattainable for many residents, especially students. If elected, I’ll continue my record as a housing advocate to support affordability.”

Govindarajan currently serves as the ASM Legislative Affairs Committee Chair and was previously an ASM Budget Committee member. Govindarajan will run on a platform that prioritizes affordable housing, increased mental health services, improvements in safety on and off-campus, and better modes of transportation.

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Former District 8 alder Max Prestigiacomo, BIPOC Coalition Member & Former ASM Sustainability Chair Ashley Cheung and community activist Dominic Zappia have all endorsed Govindarajan.

In an email statement to The Badger Herald, Govindarajan said he has spent a year and half working on issues that matter to students at the state level, but realized more and more that these issues are better solved at the city level.

“Many of the issues faced by our community are issues also faced by me, meaning I’ve lived and experienced the same issues and I have a personal interest in addressing these issues as well,” Govindarajan said. “I’m hoping to not only represent young people but also bring them and their voices to City Hall and get them directly involved in the process as well.”

Maxwell Laubenstein and Samantha Givich both announced candidacy for District 4 alder. District 4 encompasses the Capitol and all of Madison west of districts 8 and 2.

Laubenstein is a former representative at SSFC. In a press release, Laubenstein said he came to Madison as a “budding environmentalist” and has since used his position at SSFC to hold UW fiscally accountable through policy that helped ensure every dollar within students’ reach supported those in the most desperate need.

“As District 4 Alder, I will provide a fresh voice for the district that properly represents our neighbors by continuing to fight for community needs, including cost of living, affordable housing, and sustainable infrastructure,” Laubenstein said in the press release.

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Givich, who is also running for District 4, is currently the Assembly Messenger of the House Sergeant at Arms and coaches youth basketball. In an email statement to The Badger Herald, Givich said her platform is based on tolerant progressive ideals.

“I want all people of Madison to be heard and to take as many people’s experiences and opinions as possible in deciding my stances on city issues, as although I am an independent thinker, the city of Madison is all our responsibility, and I want to represent that; not just represent myself,” Givich said. “I know housing is a leading topic, and I am for affordable, sustainable development.”

Laubenstein and Givich will run against incumbent Mike Verveer, who has held the position since 1995. Before Verveer was elected as alder, he served as an assistant district attorney for Dane County.

The 2023 spring election will take place on April 4. Students and others in Madison can vote at their designated polling places.

Editor’s Note: This article was edited to include updated information on the past professional experiences of  Maxwell Laubenstein.

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