The Bus Stops Here: Transit and the 2017 Election for Madison Alder

(Michael Mirer/Madison Commons)(Michael Mirer/Madison Commons)


The Bus Stops here is produced monthly by members of the Madison Area Bus Advocates

On April 4, the City of Madison will elect 20 alders. All but one of the current Common Council members seeks re-election. Of those, four are being challenged and two people are running for the open seat.  Thus 10 candidates are contesting five contested seats.

One incumbent, two challengers and one open-seat contestant replied to our email asking about public transportation. Reprinting the replies in their entirety would take too much space so we summarize them, sometimes augmenting that with information available on candidate websites, Ballotpedia webpages and/or the Council’s website

MABA does not endorse as we are a 501(c)(3) organization.

District 1 — Alder Barbara Harrington-McKinney vs. David Handowski 

In her reply, Alder Harrington-McKinney says that she supports and would champion public transportation priorities. She currently sits on the ADA Transit Subcommittee to the Transit and Parking Commission. Based on much additional experience with aging and disability rights on the one hand and with social programs geared toward the re-entry to civil society of formerly incarcerated individuals on the other, she has seen how critically important public transportation can be for neighbors who use the bus, perhaps as their only means of transportation — for employment, access to community services, access to community resources and access to other things. “Access to all modes of transportation is a critical component of Madison's future,” she wrote. “Transportation and affordable housing are key indicators of our City’s commitment to put our customers as the focus of everything we do. Educate first, regulate when necessary and continuously improve City services.”

Challenger David Handowski is co-founder and vice-president of the Madison West Neighborhood Association. He is also chair of a citizen ad hoc committee working with City Planning to update the High Point-Raymond Road Neighborhood Development Plan. The Plan must anticipate exponential growth caused by a new UW Research Park and the continued expansion of Epic. And it must recognize that convenient car, bus, bicycle and pedestrian transportation are all important. The various transportation modes should be planned for initially, as retrofitting later can be much more costly. A cross-section of people, whether transit-dependent or not, want to be able to travel long distances without having to drive or bike. While the demand for transit is partly driven by economics: “In periods of economic duress ... ridership likely increases due to decisions driven by income,” he said. “It can also be driven by other factors: “ ... transit by seniors is likely to increase demand over time for those wanting to enjoy more of what Madison has to offer.”

District 8 Alder Zach Wood vs. John Terry, Jr.

Alder Wood did not reply to our email. Nor does he appear to be on a city transportation committee. The Council’s website lists his district as including three neighborhood associations: 1) Capitol Neighborhoods; 2) South Campus Property Owners Association; and 3) State-Langdon Neighborhood Association. All had almost complete access to a transit stop in 2015 according to the city’s Neighborhood Indicator website.

Challenger John Terry, Jr. emailed that he is a frequent bus rider.

District 10 Alder Maurice Cheeks vs. Steve Fitzsimmons

Alder Cheeks did not reply to our email. The Council’s website lists him as on the Sustainable Madison Transportation Master Plan Oversight Committee (Madison in Motion). It also lists his district as including seven neighborhood associations with access to a regular transit stop ranging from 88.3 to 100 percent. 

Challenger Steve Fitzsimmons rides the bus and sees public transportation as vital for everyone, whether or not they also use a car. He would like our current bus system enhanced, and muses that it could be part of a Regional Transit System connecting people to jobs and businesses in different localities. He would like to make it so attractive that people would want to use it without need to consider civil rights laws.

Fitzsimmons thinks congestion is dealt with more effectively, sustainably and in a fiscally responsible manner by investing in ‘alternative’ transportation modes rather than by adding lanes to roads. He would voice that and other independent stances in decision-making contexts rather than simply rubber stamping what others might say.

District 11 Open Seat Challengers Bradley Campbell vs. Arvina Martin 

District 11 will have a new alder. Access to a regular transit stop among the five neighborhood associations and one planning area in the district ranges from 96.2 to 100 percent.

Contestant Bradley Campbell sees all city functioning through a Sustainability (big S) lens, where “sustainability” includes social and health factors not just environmental ones. Madison needs to develop its economy sustainably, and public transportation is an important element of that. For it to thrive, it needs a multi-modal terminal as well. Public transportation benefits everyone, whether individuals use transit themselves or not, and it enables people to connect to other places without necessarily using a car. It gives people the option to live well with one instead of two cars, or no car at all. “Transit makes a city more vibrant by allowing options” and it “brings people together.” Finally, moving people with buses, bikes or enhanced sidewalks often makes more financial and social sense than trying to reduce congestion by widening a street.

Contestant Arvina Martin did not reply. Ballotpedia says that she has been a statewide tribal liaison for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

District 14 Alder Sheri Carter vs. José Rea 

Alder Carter did not reply to our email. Nor does she appear to be on a city transportation committee. The Council’s website lists her district as including seven neighborhood associations with access to a regular transit stop ranging from 58.6 percent (Indian Springs) to 100 percent (Arbor Hills). It additionally lists two associations for which it had no transit data: Bridge-Lakepoint and Highland Manor Homeowners.

Challenger José Rea did not reply.