Nikki Conklin looks to bring diverse community voices to the table in District 9

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Nikki Lee Conklin. Photo supplied.

From our news partner Madison365:

“I believe that District 9 needs a new, young, fresh community leader at the table. All too often, Black, Indigenous people of color are the topic at the table but yet, we’re never at the table,” said District 9 Common Council candidate Nikki Conklin. “And so now, I really feel like this is my chance to shine and break all the odds and be at the table and actually bring the voices of the community to the table so we can be heard.”

Conklin has lived in Wexford Ridge for the last 10 years and has been deeply involved in community engagement including working as a volunteer for the Lussier Community Education Center and as an acting AmeriCorps in which she was both a staff member and sat on the board of directors. She is currently the Communications Consultant for Neighborhood Organizing Institute (NOI).

“I have the connection to the community already … I’m doing the work,” Conklin said. “I’m out here and people know me; they see my face, they know who I am, and they turn to me, they look to me, and I want to guide my community to the seat at the table.”

Conklin also emphasized the importance of engaging in grassroots efforts prior to campaigning, noting that she has “deeply rooted connections already built.”

“One of the opportunities I got was I was able to go through the Neighborhood Organizing Institute,” Conklin said. “For me that really opened my eyes and we also got behind the scenes and got to meet our alders and go to a Common Council meeting and really see the back work of what organizing really is [all about].

“Through NOI, I was able to learn that people have power and that power is their voice and so the more voices we have, the more power we have,” Conklin added.

From there, Conklin formed a local tenant working group to try to improve tenant-management communications.

“Through doing that we were able to have some successes and that, for me, really just amplified my need of wanting to advocate for folks more,” she said.

Conklin noted that her platform is based on “human rights for all.”

“Basically, our basic needs need to be covered, along with affordable housing and food security and employment opportunities. And we got it we got to invest in our youth. They are our future. And with investing in our youth, we need to put our aid and our resources into school systems and community centers,” Conklin said. “If you start them when they’re young and raise them up from community centers, these kids have so many opportunities. They have a safe place to call home. Their second home. And so I really believe that that’s important … implementing after school programs for community centers and schools are so important, giving those kids that enriched education through and through from beginning to end.”

If elected, Conkin’s main priority will be fulfilling the needs of the community.

“I would like to work on is whatever my constituents feel is most important. And with me campaigning and getting out there I’m going to know what my community needs and wants and so those most definitely are the first things that I would like to work on,” she says.

“I want to be here for my constituents and, believe me, if they have a problem or they want to talk about something, I will be reachable,” Conklin continued.

She will be running against three other candidates, Anthony Amato, Douglas Hyant, and incumbent Alder Paul Skidmore. The top two candidates in this Tuesday's primary will move on to the April 6 general election.

Currently, Conklin has been endorsed by Sara Alvarado, the co-founder of Step Up: Equity Matters; Shiva Bidar, longtime alder for District 5 and vice president of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at UW Health; and Keith Furman, current alder for District 19.

“It’s important for me to set that example. Being a Black woman, mother, and raising three children, it’s important for me to lay the path for my children, and everybody who wants to follow,” Conklin says. “I want to set the example and lead for folks, and really bring our voices to the table to be heard.”

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