Click the links below to be directed to a specific topic:

 

Better Stormwater Management

 

We need a different approach to stormwater - one that works with nature instead of against it, while protecting our homes and businesses, and greening our city. The more rain we can keep where it falls, the less will go into our storm drains and lakes (and basements!). These practices and technologies are used successfully across the country, so there are many examples to learn from, and plenty of experts to consult. I have spent the last five years working with many of these experts and cities to learn about and share these ideas across the country, and I’m prepared to bring the best and most relevant practices to Madison.

 

As Mayor, I will work to make sure our infrastructure and operations are prepared for our changing climate. In this hot new world of ours, it’s irresponsible to do anything less.

 

The dramatic flooding Madison experienced this summer has made it clear that we need to take stormwater runoff seriously. Our historical land use decisions have led to an overabundance of paved surfaces in the watersheds of the Yahara Chain of Lakes, which means that when it rains, more water runs off into storm drains and straight into the lakes. And thanks to climate change, rain storms are getting more intense.

 

As Alder, I supported a floodplain study of bridges on the Upper Yahara River in 2009.  That same year I co-sponsored a resolution to accept a grant to prevent further wetland erosion and protect wildlife habitat in the Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park along the Yahara River north of Lake Mendota.  In 2008, I co-sponsored legislation to request the DNR review lake levels on Lake Mendota and to request that Dane County review the impact of lake levels on residential flooding and wetland deterioration. This legislation also called for the City of Madison to work with Middleton, Monona, state and federal agencies to cooperate on flood prediction for Lakes Mendota, Monona and Waubesa.  The need for better cooperation and strategic planning around stormwater and flood management has become critical for the City of Madison.

 

As Mayor, I will focus on better management of stormwater by:

  • Installing rain gardens, bioswales, and other engineered green solutions when we reconstruct streets

  • Retaining and increasing the tree canopy, since trees intercept and absorb rain

  • Encouraging and modeling the use of pervious pavement options (that allow water to infiltrate into the ground) for driveways, parking lots, sidewalks, alleys, basketball courts, and more

  • Working with the state and county to require new developments to control the rainfall they receive on site, and all properties to retain and infiltrate some stormwater on site

  • Adjusting our stormwater fees to cover the true costs of managing stormwater and offering rebates for properties that retain or infiltrate more water onsite

  • Offering technical and financial assistance to properties that want to install rain barrels, rain gardens, and other solutions that keep the rain out of the storm drains

  • Working with the County to manage the lakes at a lower level so they can store more water before they flood

  • Evaluating whether or not a system of sensors and real-time stormwater management like South Bend, IN uses would benefit Madison

Housing

 

Safe, secure and affordable housing is the foundation for healthy families and communities.

 

Almost everyone is feeling the impacts of the hot housing market in Madison. Many long term homeowners are having trouble with their property taxes and other expenses. Renters are having trouble finding places that are affordable. For too many in Madison, housing is not safe, affordable, or accessible to the things they need, leaving them vulnerable to eviction, health issues, job loss, and other bad outcomes. Homelessness in Madison - including child homelessness -- is on the rise.

 

While serving on the City of Madison Common Council I sponsored legislation that affirmed housing as a human right, and laid out a plan to address housing regionally.  Our housing challenge is not limited to the City of Madison, we need to deepen our cooperation with Dane County and other local partners.

 

In 2011, I championed a staff position to provide regular analysis of housing issues in the City of Madison and supported the creation of a new committee to focus on housing strategy.  Together City Staff and the dedicated committee members have facilitated much of the City’s progress on affordable housing in recent years, but we still have a long way to go.

 

 

We need to preserve existing affordable housing and improve its quality.

 

As Mayor I will:

  • Expand the allowable uses of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund to include anti-displacement efforts and land banking for affordable housing

  • Strengthen and support programs that provide low income loans and free assistance for home improvement programs, which can ensure housing is safe and comfortable

 

 

We need to produce more units of housing – both market rate and affordable.

 

As Mayor I will:

  • Fully leverage Tax Increment Financing [TIF] and the Affordable Housing Trust Fund to encourage the production of more affordable units in all neighborhoods

  • Explore waiving requirements like parking minimums and setbacks, and allowing a density bonus for projects containing significant number of affordable units, and projects located near transportation hubs

 

 

We need to use a broad range of solutions.

 

As Mayor, I will:

  • Support and encourage housing cooperatives as an affordable solution for people of all ages and all walks of life

  • Support land banking for affordable housing

  • Support and encourage land trusts as an affordable ownership solution

  • Encourage the creation of more tiny house villages

 

 

We need to support tenants and prevent evictions. Housing instability caused by eviction and, increasingly, non-renewal, is pervasive and disproportionately impacts communities of color in Madison.

 

As Mayor, I will:

  • Ensure that people facing eviction have legal representation

  • Prioritize stabilizing families in danger of eviction

  • Use data to target services and resources to those most vulnerable and at risk for housing displacement

  • Pursue incentives to reward good behavior by landlords and management companies.

 

Transportation

 

Our transportation system should focus on people – on getting you where you need to be, safely and efficiently. That means keeping our infrastructure in good condition, and making sure that everyone has transportation choices. And it means keeping our transportation priorities focused on people, not vehicles. As Mayor, I’ll focus on access to the places you need to go – home, work, school, shopping, entertainment, and more. That means:

 

  • Maintaining all our transportation infrastructure – streets, sidewalks, bike paths, and buses

  • Designing and building complete – and green – streets that are safe for people, no matter how they travel

  • Providing transit to key employment sites, and for folks that don't work 9-5, and keeping transit affordable

  • Better aligning our transportation and land use planning

  • Working with employers and property owners to manage transportation demand

  • Coordinating and collaborating with Dane County, the School District, and surrounding municipalities

  • Building out our bike network for all ages & abilities

 

One of my top priorities will be finally implementing Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in the Madison region. Madison Metro describes BRT as, “a high-frequency limited-stop transit system that offers faster more direct service using larger vehicles to increase capacity.” To do this, we need to upgrade our Metro facilities, and build partnerships with the County and surrounding municipalities until the State restores our ability to form a Regional Transportation Authority.


Transportation was a focus of my service on the Common Council.

 

  • As your Alder I worked to protect public safety on local our roads and sidewalks.  I supported a series of critical transportation improvements on North Sherman Avenue to address safety for neighbors to walk and bike to Warner Park or Sherman Plaza.  A safer North Sherman Avenue helps us build a more connected community.

 

  • I consistently supported programs that allowed small businesses to access bus passes for their employees.

 

  • In 2011, I sponsored legislation opposing the State of Wisconsin’s legislation dismantling the progress Madison, Middleton, Fitchburg, Sun Prairie, Verona and other municipalities had made toward enhanced regional bus services.  

 

  • I supported City of Madison planning that supported transportation efficiency and efforts to minimize the time we spend in commuting from home to work and back.

 

Preparing for Climate Change

 

There is no doubt that Madison’s climate is changing. Temperatures are rising, meaning we’ll have more heat waves and ice instead of snow. Precipitation levels are going up, and storms are getting more intense, which paradoxically leaves us more vulnerable to drought. All this has implications for public health, infrastructure management, disaster preparedness, water and air quality, and more. And yet, our city government isn’t preparing for the change we know is happening. We need every department to conduct a thorough review of operations and infrastructure in light of climate change science so we can make good decisions about how to prepare. And as we do, we need to stay focused on our most vulnerable neighbors – especially seniors, kids, low-income households and people of color. Not everyone has the same ability to adjust to the coming changes or to recover from disasters, so equity needs to be embedded into our response to a changing climate.

 

And at the same time, we need to do everything we can to keep climate change from getting worse. Buildings and transportation are generally the largest sources of harmful greenhouse gas emissions. The City has done a good job making our own facilities efficient, but we need to make sure that all new buildings are as efficient as possible. We also need to ramp up our use -- and generation -- of renewable energy throughout the community. And we need to make our transportation system more efficient and less reliant on fossil fuels. And we need to make sure that folks who are often left out of our economy have a chance to participate in the new green economy this work will build.

 

As Alder, I supported the development and adoption of the Madison Sustainability Plan.  I sponsored the City’s effort to study Madison’s coal-fired heat and power plants in partnership with the State, the UW and Dane County.  In 2010, I championed a successful effort to acquire a $7 million Department of Energy Grant for residential and commercial energy retrofits.  I encouraged the City to invest in energy incentives for small businesses and adopt the MadiSUN program to bring solar to local homes and businesses.  The MadiSUN program has spurred over $1.3 million in local investment since its inception, contributing to good-paying Madison jobs and clean emission-free electricity for our community.

 

As Mayor, sustainability will be a guiding principle of my administration, which will work to:

  • Reduce emissions from vehicles by expanding access to good biking and walking networks and by improving bus connectivity to key employers and destinations.

  • Reduce the impact of heat waves by investing in green infrastructure and protecting our trees and soils

  • Increase climate resilience through planning and land use

  • Encourage more resilience and on-site energy production in new building construction

  • Ramp up retrofits and weatherization of older multi-family housing

  • Reduce food waste and materials to landfill by supporting Healthy Food for All and by investing in large-scale organic composting through biodigestion

  • Work with our local utilities to pursue a strong carbon-free portfolio

  • Pursue proven, innovative financing options to accelerate our climate action, such as Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing and green bonds

  • Foster innovation amongst leadership, staff, volunteers, and committees by asking the right questions and pursuing creative solutions

  • Deepen cooperation with local partners including Dane County and surrounding municipalities to plan for responses to extreme weather and to strengthen efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

 

Stabilizing Families

& Neighborhoods

Too many of our neighbors are vulnerable because of their financial, health, or housing situations. We need to do a better job of identifying vulnerable families and helping them stabilize their lives. This might mean helping folks get or restore their driver’s license, connecting people to the training they need to get a better job, or find quality affordable housing for someone who needs it. We can use available data to identify those most likely at risk, and take an asset-based, family-centered and culturally competent approach to helping them identify and solve problems that are keeping them from thriving.

 

Housing, jobs and welcoming neighborhoods support strong families. As Alder Satya supported youth apprenticeship programs with Operation Fresh Start and the City of Madison to help give Madison’s young adults a jumpstart toward rewarding careers.  She advocated for diverse programming and activities at Warner Park to offer a range of opportunities for kids, teens, adults and seniors. Satya also championed investments in the City of Madison Affordable Housing Trust Fund to support affordable accessible housing for local residents.

 

Many of Madison’s most vulnerable families are one sick day or unexpected expense away from eviction. Housing instability caused by eviction and, increasingly, non-renewal, is pervasive and disproportionately impacts communities of color in Madison. Evictions and displacement from housing for any reason is an education issue, as it often results in school instability that can create a ripple effect in childhood stress and learning. It’s a public health issue, as it can lead to chronic stress and negatively impact mental health, and can often result in overcrowding as evicted families move in with families or friends, often in less safe neighborhoods or situations. Evictions are bad for the city and for service providers, too, often leading to money lost in property taxes and utility bills, and indirect costs of crisis service provision. The city needs to continue to support free or heavily subsidized eviction defense; pursue new funding mechanisms to stabilize families in danger of eviction; and work across sectors to enrich economic safety nets for working families. The city can also provide landlords and property management companies incentives to pursue avenues besides eviction.

 

Despite our healthy and growing economy, too many people in Madison are struggling to get by. We need to focus on increasing household income by promoting good jobs and decrease expenses by keeping necessities like housing, transportation, food, utilities and childcare accessible and affordable. While the State currently limits the City’s ability to improve wage and hour laws, we can lift up employers who pay their employees a living wage, and make sure that wage theft, a problem faced by too many low-wage workers, is prosecuted. As Mayor, I’ll make this a central focus of my administration, appoint a staff person to coordinate this work and be accountable for progress on it.

 

As Mayor I will work to increase wealth building especially in Madison’s communities of color through efforts to:

  • Expand upon the City’s progress toward establishing Child Savings Accounts

  • Support entrepreneurship and new small businesses

  • Increase access to affordable child care

  • Work to further remove barriers to employment (barriers may include suspended driver’s licenses, criminal records, access to transportation and affordable childcare)

  • Protect and promote safe, affordable and accessible housing

 

Racial Justice

 

We have deep racial disparities in opportunity and outcomes in our community.  This is unacceptable and it must change.

 

Madison has some of the worst racial disparities in school performance, income, and criminal detention in the county; the city is segregated in both housing and schools.  This has a tremendously negative impact on our city - not just for the people impacted by systemic and institutional racism, but for all of us. We lose knowledge, intelligence, talent, potential, economic activity and wealth when not everyone has the opportunity to thrive in our community.

 

As Madison grows, it is vital that we approach everything the city does through an equity lens and ensure affected communities have a seat at the decision making table. City government has the power to improve the situation, first and foremost by promoting fairness in its own hiring and practices, and by fighting discrimination in the community.

 

Going forward we will need to enhance targeted recruitment to build racial, ethnic and gender diversity at all levels of City employment.  Madison’s Fire Department has been particularly proactive in recruiting diverse candidate pools for job openings. Madison can expand on these efforts by targeting recruitment efforts to reach potential candidates of color by connecting with Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other diverse organizations.  Madison must invest in further training and staff time to establish diverse applicant pools for the range of job opportunities the City offers.

 

As Alder, I worked to ensure that the City afforded equal opportunities to staff and residents.  I supported efforts to improve the balance of gender, race and people with disabilities in top City of Madison management positions and on City committees.  I also strengthened city policies that made it easier for people to participate in decision making by protecting our early public comment process.  I sponsored legislation in support of Dane County’s Task Force on Racial Disparities in Criminal Justice and consistently opposed discrimination in housing.

 

People of Color in Madison are, in part due to historical racism, more likely to be lower income or lower wealth. Overcoming these disparities will require a concerted effort that includes removing barriers to employment for un- and underemployed people; providing adequate affordable housing, especially to families with children; expanding programs that provide internships, mentorship, and employment to young People of Color.

 

As Mayor, I will:

 

  • Create an Office of Community Engagement, focused on reaching and engaging historically underrepresented communities, building trust, and making sure community voices are heard throughout City Hall

  • Ensure that City hiring and appointments reflect our community, and value a broad array of experience

  • Leverage city contracts and spending to push the private sector to incorporate racial equity into their work

  • Support businesses owned by People of Color and encourage entrepreneurship in Communities of Color

  • Work with the private sector to retain professionals of color and attract diverse talent to our community

  • Support community organizing, build capacity and elevate leadership in Communities of Color

  • Improve transparency in city hiring and promotion and the provision of city services to hold ourselves to the highest standards of equity in City Government

  • Incorporate racial equity competency and accountability into the responsibilities of City managers

  • Establish a reporting and discipline process for the City to address issues of racial bias in the workplace

  • Enhance targeted recruitment for City of Madison positions to build racial, ethnic and gender diversity at all levels of City employment

  • Grow the youth employment programs that focus on reaching diverse candidates and supporting them in their first jobs to help them build rewarding careers (at the City of Madison and local employers)

 

Food Policy

 

Madison is fast becoming a foodie haven, but not all of our residents have access to fresh, healthy, and affordable food. Food deserts - areas where healthy, affordable food is not easily available - are an issue for many of Madison’s low-income neighborhoods and residents. Throughout the city, food waste is another issue that the city struggles with, while our county’s landfill - expanded within the last decade - fills up.

 

One of the most significant steps that any city can take towards getting serious on food policy is to create and support a food policy council, which Madison has. Satya has served on the Madison Food Policy Council since 2013. During her time there, she’s advocated for proactive policies to increase food access, reduce food waste, and improve the local food system.  She championed new policies which allow the planting of fruit trees on terraces and public parks.  In her Northside neighborhood, Satya played a critical role in the development of the Northside Feed Kitchen, a food business incubator.  Satya also supported zoning changes to allow for fish farming and growing food in commercially zoned Madison neighborhoods.

 

As Mayor, Satya will continue her advocacy on food policy, working with the Food Policy Council, local businesses, and residents to pursue policies that reduce disparities in health outcomes related to food access, increase the availability of healthy, local food, and create vibrant, livable communities with edible landscapes. In addition to what the city is already doing, Satya will look to:

 

  • Find a solution that would enable the city to pursue its own food composting program, dramatically reducing our waste to landfill while creating a marketable composting product and, potentially, energy.

  • Support urban agriculture projects, including on city owned property, by continuing the city’s move towards more progressive zoning and ordinances.

  • Recognize that food access is often a transportation issue, and seek to create safe routes to healthy food options by aligning transportation policy with food policy.

  • Continue working with and supporting small, local entrepreneurs through initiatives like the city’s Market Ready Program and programs that connect skilled workers to food training programs like FEED Kitchens.

  • Support the local food economy by creating a cross-docking food terminal where farmers from the region can connect with restaurants, institutions, and grocery stores to sell their products.

 

Other Issues & Questionnaires

 

“It is up to cities to lead now, and we need leaders who are prepared and able to take on that role. I’m ready to lead on climate, racial equity, housing, transportation, and other issues that matter to working families."

Satya Rhodes-Conway

  • Grey Facebook Icon
  • Grey Instagram Icon
  • Grey LinkedIn Icon
  • Grey Twitter Icon

Please contact us at satyaformadison@gmail.com