The mayoral field narrows today, but the issues are diverse

Madison goes to the polls today to narrow the field in its mayoral race from five to two. Yet at the neighborhood level, key concerns are varied and diverse.

There are more than 120 neighborhood associations in Madison, and residents from east to west have one thing in common – they all face different issues in their communities. These are issues they will want whoever emerges from the primary field of Richard Brown, Christopher Daly, Bridget Maniaci, Scott Resnick and incumbent Paul Soglin to speak to.

On the West side, the community of Midvale Heights sees safety as a main priority. The community, which consists of over 1,600 residences of young families, professionals and retirees, saw an increase in crime over the past year.

According to Tom Jarvis, who serves as an Area Director for the Midvale Heights Community Association, “We had a neighborhood watch back in 2008-09, but the person in charge quit. Recently someone just stepped up to take over the neighborhood watch.”

With the restoration of Midvale Heights neighborhood watch program underway, Jarvis said the community also discussed the possibility of a new police headquarters in the nearby area, which would be located on the North side of Mineral Point Rd. across from the Westmorland neighborhood.

“There’s been disagreement between Mayor (Paul) Soglin and the police for how soon that’s going to be there. We’ve had both the Mayor and Chief Koval come to some of our meetings over the past year,” Jarvis said.

This issue will be important to Midvale Heights residents during election season, but the neighborhood association does not plan on endorsing a mayoral candidate, according to Jarvis.

Meanwhile, in central Madison, State-Langdon neighborhood residents care deeply about housing and tenant rights. According to State-Langdon Neighborhood Association spokesman, Chris Hoffman, the highly populated renting neighborhood consists of mostly university students and a handful of non-students.

“Affordable housing and tenant rights are two big issues, but also smart development housing that’s going to attract talent to the city and maintain numerous badgers to stay in the city. We want to make sure that we as renters are respected by our landlords,” Hoffman said.

Candidate Scott Resnick, the alder for the State-Langdon neighborhood, has experience dealing with these issues. Living in the neighborhood, Hoffman has seen firsthand the work Resnick has done in the area.

“Scott’s experience on City Council is someone who brings folks together to get things done,” Hoffman said.

The State-Langdon Neighborhood Association plans on endorsing a candidate, but the timeline for that has not been set, according to Hoffman.

The East side of Madison also brings different concerns to the table as the Mayoral primary approaches. Residents in the Elvehjem and Schenk-Atwood-Starkweather-Yahara (SASY) neighborhoods both expressed interest in issues regarding street construction and usability.  SASY residents are also concerned about racial equity.

The eastside SASY neighborhood experiences a problem with local input regarding road construction, said SASY Neighborhood Association chairman Brad Hinkfuss. However, problems with racial equity and the crime uptake in a nearby neighborhood are also a concern as the mayoral election approaches. The SASY neighborhoods are made up of many family homes with three schools located close by, including Madison East High School.

At the same time, the Elvehjem neighborhood experiences a different problem with roads.

“We continue to struggle with walkability and bike-ability in car-dependent neighborhoods,” Elvehjem Neighborhood Association President Tiffani Roltgen said.

The neighborhood is located in the far east of Madison and consists of about 1,700 households. Most are single-family homes, but there is also a sprinkle of multi-family homes, according to Roltgen.

Roltgen said that although alder and mayoral involvement in the Elvehjem neighborhood has been significant in the past, there is a still much to be done.

Both the SASY and Elvehjem Neighborhood Associations do not plan on endorsing a candidate, but both plan to organize forums to educate their communities on the candidates after the primary.