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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Woods deserves students’ vote for aldermanic race

Not long ago, I sat down and talked to Eli Judge and Lauren Woods, the two candidates vying for your vote on April 3 for alder in the eighth district of Madison. And while it may seem the rarest of practices for an editorial columnist to leave his comfy computer desk, know that this writer couldn't be more pleased he decided to do so. After all, it has given me one less thing to think about during the week of spring break: who to vote for.

Before jumping into the details of my interview and subsequent reactions, I must make it very clear that in both Eli and Lauren we have candidates that share a bona fide, enthusiastic and resolute aspiration to lead the eighth district to its fullest potential. There can be no questioning this fact. This will be a vote about political approach and not political ardor, a vote about policy and not passion. At least I hope we have the insight to make it that way.

Now, the first thing you should know is that Lauren and Eli are very different people. In style, in personality and in personal aspirations for the eighth district, they are about as different as one could imagine.


Ever the politician, there wasn't a word or an idea that Eli tripped over — perfectly executing his talking points and incorporating his personal charm into every response. Lauren, on the other hand, seemed to treat the interview as though it was a conversation with an old friend — much less formal, much less poised to impress and with much more of an emphasis on her goals as a representative rather than on her persona as a politician. I came to appreciate this more and more as the interview progressed and the issues arose.

Safety: the issue of safety was Eli's No. 1 issue. When I asked him why he placed campus safety above everything else, he told me, "It's a lot of people's No. 1 issue, and I can't ignore it." He also cited his first death threat one month into his freshman year, along with the death threats he receives "all the time as a gay guy" as the other main catalyst for his personal interest in safety.

Lauren placed campus safety on par with three other platform goals: expanding civil rights, increasing affordable housing/tenants' rights and expanding economic justice within the community.

So while it may seem as though the concern of campus safety should be chalked up to Eli based on the importance the candidates placed on the issue, it was the logistics of their plans to increase campus safety that clearly favored Lauren. Ms. Woods outlined very specific and viable plans for community police officers, increasing downtown lighting, support of the mayor's Downtown Safety Initiative's funding and encouraging the use of the Performing Arts Venue License by eighth district bar owners.

"As a way to enhance downtown entertainment options and to deter students from attending unregulated house parties, I will strongly encourage bar owners to make use of the Performing Arts Venue License," Lauren said.

The Performing Arts Venue License is a license that bar owners have access to that allows individuals 18 years or older to be in bars during certain musical or other entertainment performances.

I wasn't even sure Eli had heard of the measures Lauren proposed. The main emphasis of his plan was to increase the number of emergency blue lights around campus in order to increase security measures. But the reality is that, according to a city council member, those blue lights only aid .02 percent of those who are sexually assaulted on this campus.

Lauren: 1, Eli: 0.

Student representation: Much of the criticism expressed about current Ald. Austin King, Ms. Woods' campaign treasurer and official endorser, was that he too often neglected the needs of students.

Regarding this issue, Lauren said, "In addition to the needs of students, I also recognize that there are other communities, and that the eighth district is a campus district, but it is also the downtown district — and communities in the downtown area deserve a chance to contribute as well."

Eli, on the other hand, did not once mention the needs of the downtown community, and frequently expressed his disfavor for King's neglect of student issues.

"I have figured out what the student voice is like, how powerful it is, how important it is," Judge said. "I'm really interested in bringing that to City Council because I believe a lot of people feel disenfranchised."

As a student, it is oh-so-tempting to only pay heed to my own self-interests. But as a resident of Madison and an active participant in the community, I realize that the needs of all in the eighth district deserve equal attention. With her experience serving on a city council committee and her overwhelming knowledge of city issues, Lauren realizes this too.

Lauren: 2, Eli: 0.

Leadership experience: The issue of proper experience for the eighth district constituency dominated the conversation when both candidates discussed the qualifications — or lack thereof — of their opponents.

Lauren's impressive résumé includes: former Black Student Union president, member of Madison's Equal Opportunity Commission, member of the Regent Street/South Campus Master Plan Steering Committee, legislative aide to state Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, and current POSSE scholar. Her résumé clearly emphasizes her knowledge of the eighth district and her drive to stay strongly invested in its communities.

Likewise, Eli has impeccable leadership skills that are evident in his experience as chair of last fall's Students for a Fair Wisconsin campaign, aimed at educating Madisonians about the constitutional ban on gay marriage and civil unions. Yet Eli lacks the knowledge and experience with broader city concerns, more non-student directed initiatives and city council issues as a whole — the very council on which he wishes to serve.

Commenting on her opponent's misguided policy targets, Lauren said, "I think it's premature and very narrow to think that your only job on the city council, as a representative of one-twentieth of the city of Madison, is to look out for the eighth district. I think that's insular, I think it's narrow and I don't want a representative like that."

Neither do I.

What my time with both candidates told me was that while Eli might personify what it means to be an articulate, charming and driven politician, it is Lauren who has the experience that allows her to personify both the interests of the average student and the concerns of the average community member.

Lauren: 3, Eli: 0.

The candidates went on to discuss a variety of other issues — well, mostly Lauren did — that separated the two opponents even further. The issues included attention to the Allied Drive community, the Alcohol Density Plan, city transportation and housing concerns for UW students, among others — all of which would have made my unofficial scoreboard look more like the score of a basketball game between the Badgers and the East High School varsity squad, with Lauren getting the win.

You see, it's not that Eli doesn't have the drive, the ability or the resourcefulness to be our representative — it's that he doesn't have the experience.

So as I lay on the beach in sunny Florida on Tuesday, April 3, I will surely rest easy knowing that my vote went to the most qualified candidate and I sincerely hope you will share in my sentiment.

But don't just take my word for it. I encourage you to contact and engage with both Eli and Lauren throughout the month of March and discover for yourself what I already have. And if you decide to do so, then the following will only be a message mirroring the convictions you already hold: Vote Lauren Woods for Alderwoman.

Andy Granias ([email protected]) is a sophomore majoring in political science and international studies.

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