By Eliza Kruszynski
350 Madison’s Alder Election Team asked two questions of general election candidates:
- In 2017, the Common Council passed a resolution to “establish community-wide Energy and Carbon goals of 100% renewable energy and net-zero carbon emissions.” As an alder, what actions will you take to ensure that these goals are established within your tenure?
- As an alder, how will you use city policy to reduce Madison’s carbon emissions?
District 1: Barbara Harrington-McKinney (no response)
District 2: Benji Ramírez Gomez, Patrick Heck
District 3: Lindsey Lemmer, Charly Rowe
District 4: Michael Verveer (no response)
District 5: Regina Vidaver
District 6: Brian Benford (no response)
District 7: Nasra Wehelie
District 8: Juliana Bennett, Ayomi Obuseh
District 9: Nikki Conklin, Paul Skidmore (no response)
District 10: Yannette Figueroa Cole, Mara Eisch
District 11: Arvina Martin (no response)
District 12: Syed Abbas, Tessa Wyllie de Echeverria
District 13: Tag Evers
District 14: Sheri Carter (no response), Brandi Grayson-Tuck
District 15: Grant Foster (no response)
District 16: Jael Currie, Matt Tramel
District 17: Gary Halverson
District 18: Rebecca Kemble, Charles Myadze
District 19: Keith Furman, Aisha Moe
District 20: Christian Albouras (no response), Erica Lee Janisch (no response)
- We need to municipalize MG&E. MGE currently sells green energy at a higher rate, which is a cost barrier meant to inhibit the expansion of renewable energy. By offering green energy at affordable prices, we can move away from coal and other pollutants. Municipalization democratizes our energy sector, and allows working class people the autonomy to reduce our emissions.
- By centering BIPOC in my council work, we can begin to sustainably develop a city that prioritizes needs over profit. My goal is to completely revamp our city’s public transit. I’m going into this work with the vision of a car-less Isthmus. This means bus and bike exclusive streets and municipal parking lots. We must create a system of transportation that is cost effective for everyone in the city.
- The 2017 resolution, while appropriately intended, has not seen sufficient follow through, although some of that is related to optics rather than inaction. Our strategies for reaching our goal of city buildings and operations seem generally to be on track for net-zero emissions by 2030, although I do not know if 100% renewable energy usage is on the same timeline and suspect it is not. I hope we can rectify that and will push for doing so, but we are partially at the mercy of those who we source energy from when we can’t produce our own.The resolution’s call to establish community-wide goals and timelines for 100% renewable energy usage and net-zero emissions is where we need to do more. While MG&E, for instance, has committed to net-zero emissions by 2050, much of the community seems not to be engaged on the need to set goals and support policies and decisions that will get us to the same place and further sooner. It is as if many folks expect MG&E to reach their goal and then our community’s commitment to address climate change and its impact will be accomplished. Some of that is the fault of the city and elected officials for not drawing sufficient attention to the choices and adjustments that the community must make, but we also live in a country that has a history of burying our heads in the sand with regard to climate change. Even the local media has sometimes confused the issue and goals by not quite differentiating between city operations goals and community-wide goals. While the city should and must set an example, it should be clearer that this is just an initial step and that the community must change not just our energy sources, but reduce our energy consumption and emissions both.If the community could rally behind a goal of net-zero emissions and 100% renewable energy by 2050, that would represent serious progress, but we should advocate for reaching those goals even sooner. All elected officials at the local and state level should push not just for the establishment of our goals, but also immediately thereafter push for attaining them. Note that when mentioning the community, this includes all stakeholders — individuals, the business community, UW, non-profits, communities who suffer from environmental injustices, faith communities, etc. In my second term, I will advocate for community-chosen and community-wide goals that are established, clear, and differentiated from city operations goals.
- There are currently several city-related groups, organizations, and alders who are working to bring renewed attention to reducing our carbon emissions. The Sustainable Madison Committee and its subcommittees/subgroups are an important part of that effort. I have been working, and will continue to work, with members of SMC, other alders, and groups like 350 Madison to focus on achieving net zero emissions. As a member of Plan Commission, I will continue to pursue changes to our zoning code, ordinances, and our development approval processes, including the prioritization of solar energy capabilities; transit demand management plans that reduce our overreliance on vehicular traffic; boosting EV infrastructure; building new and converting existing structures with superior energy efficiency, promotion of higher housing density, and any other policy that is allowable by our regressive state legislature or past court precedents. Given that we are somewhat limited in what we can require of builders, developers, and property owners, exploring incentivizing these same matters when we are unable to require them is key. I will also advocate for transportation policies that not only promote EVs, but most importantly, focus on modeshift. We must reduce our penchant for spending public funds on expanding roadways and their capacities and instead focus on shifting from cars, electric or otherwise, to mass transit, bicycling, walking, and other alternate and green modes of transportation.
- We must prioritize the crucial work of moving our city to being carbon neutral. I’m proud to have sponsored updating our stormwater management ordinance to reduce flooding and ensure all new developments are implementing practices that will keep stormwater from leaving their property. I also sponsored our new Electronic Vehicle requirements so that new developments are EV-ready, supported the bird glass ordinance, and sponsored ordinances to reduce plastic waste. I also have sponsored MadiSUN, which makes solar panels more accessible for homes and commercial properties and also has an apprenticeship program, providing good, green jobs. We should strengthen these programs as well as programs such as MPower to ensure and advance sustainable business practices and resources.
- We need to work to ensure the transition of city vehicles to electric vehicles, ensure any new city buildings are LEED-certified, support and expand programs such as MadiSUN and MPower that have been found to be successful.
- I am glad to see the current progress being made in curbing these toxic emissions. All the technology we need to begin to drastically reduce our carbon emissions is available to us. The “build it, they will come” attitude towards offering electric parking is a great start.Madison has been remiss in its public stewardship of our environment; we must continue to push innovatively towards our goals of 100% renewable energy and net-zero emissions. I will work with my communities to educate them on how to practically reduce carbon emissions in their daily living; as well as how we as a city can reduce the harm to our environment. I will work with local stakeholders and landlords to stress the importance (and long term benefits of) building and retro-fitting properties to be more energy efficient.
- As Alder, I will approach building, environmental, construction; and all other such like projects, from an environmental and ethical viewpoint first. We must continue to encourage responsible and sustainable initiatives like Rapid Bus Transit; and building with intentional density. As we grow, we must work to reduce the 41% of carbon emissions that come from vehicles by providing alternative public transportation methods. BCycle, our local bike share program transitioning to all electric-assist bicycles is a great community effort to become more sustainable. We need to look at creating more efficient construction and updating outdated facilities and infrastructures. Using less concrete, steel, and glass will reduce our urban emissions.
- As a result of speaking with a 350 Madison member, I have already begun to incorporate questions into key decision making. For example, I currently serve on the Healthy Retail Access Program, which provides funding to entities that are seeking to provide healthy grocery and other opportunities in areas of the city needing greater food access. In one of our recent meetings, I asked the applicant if the building they were purchasing to rehab into a grocery was going to be improved with energy efficient updates. (The answer was yes.) Just having this awareness, that there are opportunities in many of our committees and council operations to identify ways to reduce our carbon impact, is valuable. We have the opportunity to ensure our bus rapid transit system is all electric, and that we provide electric charging stations in new construction. These are only a few examples; having a lens of reducing carbon emissions with every decision will help ensure we reach our city goals.
- I will investigate additional opportunities to use city policy in this way. For example, we may be able to require some level of use of reclaimed materials in new construction if the city is providing financing incentives to the entity. There may also be ways to incorporate solar energy into new projects, or identify opportunities to add solar to existing sites. Encouraging housing infill in existing walkable communities also reduces reliance on cars and other vehicles. Planting trees and gardens in appropriate green spaces can help to sequester some of the carbon we produce. I look forward to working with 350 Madison to identify other opportunities for reducing our carbon footprint.
- As alder, I would ensure that these goals are established by creating strong coalitions with experts and advocating for adequate resource allocation. In order to implement these goals efficiently, it is important to liaison with all the integral stakeholders and create a collaborative atmosphere. Lastly, I would ensure that the voices of community leaders and members are heard and that concerns are heard and adequately addressed.
- To reduce Madison’s carbon emissions, it is important to help implement the existing plans and commit resources to building upon existing infrastructure. Additionally, as alder, I will ensure that progress reports are conducted in order to identify milestones and address any issues.
- We must meet our renewable energy goals. After speaking with several environmental and engineering majors, we must divest from fossil fuels and invest in solar energy. The infrastructure for solar energy is mostly in place in Madison and I will make it incumbent upon myself to promote renewable energy uses. When elected, I would like to be appointed to the Plan Commission to promote renewable energy investments in all new developments. I will collaborate with other alders and the Sustainable Madison Committee, because I recognize that achieving our goal of net zero emissions
- When elected, I would like to be appointed to the Plan Commission to promote renewable energy investments in all new developments. I will promote green space zoning and renewable energy investments, such as better HVAC systems and solar panels.
- During my time in office I will continue to push for sustainability initiatives, not only on a policy level but directly with the projects in my district to ensure that we can meet our 100% Renewable Energy goal by 2030 and our Net-Zero Carbon Emissions goal by 2050. This means that I will push for increased sustainability measures in buildings such as advocating for dual stream recycling management in all of Madison, the use of LEDs and motion sensored lighting for homes and commercial buildings, and following the sustainable building advancements that our professionals from UW-Madison are leading such as the Wisconsin Energy Institute and their building model. We also need to continue to install green infrastructure throughout our neighborhoods not only to make Madison greener but also as a measure to implement better flooding mitigation systems.Furthermore, I believe that our green future starts in the home with our youth. I want to make a youth center downtown that is run on green energy and provides courses to instill good practices into our youth, such as proper recycling and composting, as well as the importance of alternative transportation, such as support for more pedestrian areas and increased use of the BCycle system. Educating youth on sustainability measures such as recycling and composting is one of the most viable ways that we can rapidly encourage our residents to value and commit to living more sustainably.I see environmental justice as being at the intersection of racial and social justice, as increased pollution and climate change disproportionately affect BIPOC and low income communities the most. We need to make Madison greener in a literal sense. Environmental justice and urban gardening initiatives that organizations such as Rooted and the Farley Center work on in Madison need to be promoted, and the work that FH King does for our campus community needs more support. Likewise, the city’s work to implement green infrastructure, such as green roofs and rain gardens, not only increase vegetation in Madison but also reduces carbon emissions and increases local stormwater drainage systems. Increasing green infrastructure goes hand in hand with the issue of flooding mitigation as Madison has seen large flooding in the last 5 years that have disproportionately impacted the south side of Madison, which is heavily populated by the Black and Latinx communities in our city. So, as we work to advance Madison sustainably, we need to ensure that communities that are systematically less invested in receive improvements alongside the downtown area, especially when sustainability projects and programming by the city do not prioritize these neighborhoods.
- Looking into innovative solutions that we can create renewable energy, such as biofuel from algae blooms and footfall paths that generate energy from footsteps, is something that I want to encourage the implementation of in Madison. Considering that Wisconsin has historically been a cornerstone of environmentalism with contributions like Gaylord Nelson and Aldo Leopold, I believe that Madison specifically can continue being a frontier of sustainable advancement, especially with the many environmental science specialists that call Madison home. We must also encourage the use of public transportation as well as the use of bikes with policies that make it not only more accessible but more desirable as a mode of transportation. I look forward to the integration of electric buses in Madison, but I want to ensure that the implementation of Bus Rapid Transit is equitable and does not displace more housing units with construction of the corridors and bus stations, especially in my district where affordable housing is a very large issue. Finalizing Phase I of BRT is something that I plan to work on and evaluate with my fellow alders this year. Something that one must realize with Phase 1’s East-West corridor is that it is centered around downtown residents, and though the City and Madison Metro’s reasoning behind this decision is logical, I want to also make sure that the North and South sides of Madison also see increased reliability and accessibility of sustainable public transit. Ensuring that Madison advances sustainably but also equitably is the only way that we will be able to meet our Energy and Carbon goals.Of course, reducing and eventually eliminating our carbon emissions needs systemic change. This is why we specifically need to look into the ways that UW-Madison specifically is moving towards solar power, as the campus is mainly powered by the Charter Street Heating and Cooling Plant which uses natural gas. This means that while MG&E is moving towards powering itself with solar panels with their net-zero carbon electricity plans, the Charter St. plant is not similarly obligated to. As District 8 Alder, I want to ensure that the university is held as accountable as the city so that all of Madison is working towards our Energy and Carbon goals. Ultimately, in order to meet the Net Zero Carbon Emissions goal as soon as possible, we need to ensure that we are working towards sustainability at all fronts.
- We need to move quickly to accomplish our goal of transitioning to 100% clean energy. There is a lot we can do at the city level. Transportation accounts for 41% of our CO2 emissions, and if we combine residential and commercial energy, our buildings account for 48% of CO2 emissions. It’s important that we make all city buildings energy efficient and install solar panels wherever possible. We must also incentivize residents and businesses to make sure they are installing solar and increasing energy efficiency as well.
- I support the Green New Deal’s goal of achieving 100% carbon free energy by 2030. Carbon mitigation is not enough because burning coal is a danger to our environment and health. Pollution from coal plants drives climate change and increases respiratory problems. We can’t replace dirty coal with natural gas which still emits carbon and causes other major problems. Madison and Wisconsin are way behind, and we will need bold policies and actions to accelerate all efforts to achieve this. Specifically we need policies focused on clean energy and clean transportation that create green jobs in Wisconsin. At the city level we can electrify the metro transit and increase the infrastructure for electric vehicles to make it easier for people to make the switch to all electric.
- The city should use the Affordable Housing Fund to build democratic, affordable, and green housing paired with social services, halt evictions and continue to fight for tenants’ rights. Upgrade infrastructure to be energy efficient, invest in green jobs that pay a living wage and support a just transition for all workers.
- Develop a People First Transportation policy that puts people before cars, prioritizing bus rapid transit options that favor buses over personal vehicles, ensuring easy bus accessibility to all Madisonians, including the disabled and elderly. Paving the way for free and/or reduced bus transit fares for Madison residents, a car-free isthmus, and the elimination of salt and phosphorus runoffs into our lakes.
- As Alder, I would support the continued annual reporting, and biannual revisit to the plan, to achieve 100% renewable energy and net-zero carbon emissions plan. I have been following some of the work of the Sustainable Madison Committee and hope to be involved in this committee as Alder. There are many ways to move forward in reaching our goals, that work must be multifaceted. For example, the work with the piloting of composting on a city level is certainly going to move us in that direction. Few see this as a facet of action beyond transportation emissions.Our plan needs to be balanced so as not to unduly penalize one area to the benefit of another. It needs to be cooperative and experienced as a shared effort and benefit. This requires talking and listening to the science and to the issues.
- As Alder, I will use the goals of Sustain Madison as a benchmark for all changes in city ordinances. We need to ask how each policy we review/change contributes to the carbon emissions, perhaps we should even document how each contributes. This should be part of recording the decision.We need to consider how we can reduce the impact in every decision so we are moving forward toward net zero. We will not get there in one year, but we should be moving in that direction every year. Every little step will help.As a side note, perhaps we should also include in our annual reporting what opportunities were missed. Not in a negative way but recognizing the barriers and costs we need to address in future years. We cannot accomplish everything right away but should note how much of an impact we made in light of how we could have made a bigger impact realizing what that would have entailed (cost). That way the future goals are always up front and helping to create a mind set of where we want to get to and not just a pat on the back for the single step that was taken.
- From the time I was elected to the Common Council I started working on our climate change plan. I initially introduced the Plastic Straw ordinance and then championed the Electric Vehicle Charging ordinance. I worked with 350 Madison and other stakeholders to collaborate on climate goals and push the city in the right direction.As an alder and Common Council Vice President I am working with the Mayor’s office and pushing staff to track performance metrics and get things done in a timely manner.I am also pushing the Mayor’s office to hire a new person for the sustainability position so we can create a greater capacity to achieve environmental goals.
- Our planet just experienced the hottest decade on record. The disastrous impacts of climate disruption are growing more severe. Action is required on all levels. In addition to creating progressive laws to fight climate effects, we need to think creatively and create incentives, use TIF money to promote renewable energy and connect developers with tools to make their buildings sustainable. I am working on an ordinance change in which TIF money can be used for energy efficiency updates including making TIF as a tool to promote solar, wind and other renewable energy.
- With less than eleven years to adopt radical solutions to solve our climate change crisis, we call upon Dane County and the City of Madison to declare a climate emergency and begin immediate work to mitigate our climate disaster. I support the 2030 net neutral, 2050 all-renewable plan of the City of Madison, but demand more. We need a radical, worker-first, and union-friendly Green New Deal that includes the following concrete actions to improve our ecological footprint and achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions in Dane County by 2030:
- Develop a People First Transportation policy that puts people before cars, paving the way for free bus transit and a car-free isthmus by providing fare-free bus transit to Madison residents, prioritizing bus rapid transit options that favor buses over personal vehicles, ensuring easy bus accessibility to all members of the Madison community, including the disabled and elderly, and eventually expanding the State Street car-free zone to the entire isthmus when public transport works for everyone. Madison Metro workers must be supported by guaranteeing all new public transit jobs be Teamster jobs.
- Restore the sovereignty of Ho-Chunk people. Dane County and the surrounding area must build an active and good-faith relationship with the Ho-Chunk Nation, recognizing their sovereignty and right to self-determination. Cease production of the Line 66 oil pipeline through ancestral Ho-Chunk lands, and refuse to permit any new interstate oil pipelines.
- Land Back. Recognizing that the City exists on land stolen from the Ho Chunk and other Tribes and honoring the leadership of Indigenous groups on environmental issues by following their lead to achieve sustainable practices and policies.
- Perform a public buyout of Madison Gas & Electric (MG&E) and begin providing 100% renewable energy through city-owned assets. Guarantee the retention of MG&E’s unionized employees at the same or better pay, keeping their labor unions intact, and providing them with any and all necessary retraining.
- Prepare for more frequent “100-year floods”. In addition to implementing natural stormwater management techniques, Dane County must begin immediate co-study with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources into how we can lower the lakes of the Lower Yahara Watershed back to their natural levels.
- Promote telecommuting. Enact policies that incentivize companies to allow and encourage their employees to work from the comfort of their own homes, reducing both road congestion and carbon emissions from personal vehicles.
- Water conservation: Sustained attention to Madison’s water system to ensure a comprehensive long-term plan for new and existing wells, water conservation, efficient water distribution, and support for innovative techniques to save and reuse existing water. Responsible land use and stormwater management requirements for large retail developments.
- Review development from a sustainable viewpoint: Carefully evaluating mixed-use development proposals, considering the square footage of empty commercial properties in the area, and supporting wholly residential developments when there is not a demonstrated need for additional commercial space in the area.
- I think there are three main areas to tackle when taking up the goals of 100% renewable energy and net-zero carbon emissions. These are; Renewable Energy, Public Transportation for All, and Environmental Racism and Justice. Here is a list of a few policies that I plan to bring to the table to get our city moving in the right direction:
- Publicize municipal building energy data
- Electrification of entire Madison Metro bus fleet
- Increase commuting transportation and telecommuting options, including making internet access a public utility.
- Establish Green Revolving Fund.
- Continue to Expand Education and Outreach programs to engage the community in the process of transforming our city.
- Repeal Madison’s wheel tax and adopt more just funding for public transportation.
- Push employers to offer more telecommuting options.
- Work to stop the spread of chemicals in our city’s water, both drinking water and our lakes and rivers.
I would make sure that each step worked together to bring us closer to these goals to get us on the right road towards zero-net emissions as quickly as we can as a city.
- Upon being elected as District 13 Alder in 2019, I was appointed to the Sustainable Madison Committee (SMC). On SMC, I serve on a subcommittee charged with revising and updating the City’s Sustainability Plan. I am also part of an ad hoc working group focused on Madison’s built environment. It is estimated that 48% of Madison’s carbon emissions stem from its commercial and residential buildings. District 12 Alder Syed Abbas and I are working with the Mayor’s office to develop a comprehensive strategy involving both mandates and incentives targeting large commercial buildings that contribute disproportionately to our carbon load. I am also in full alignment with the City’s goals to reduce vehicle miles traveled and have led efforts to eliminate through traffic on Vilas Park Drive and on the new north-south public street slated for the Triangle.
- By continuing the work that I’m doing. See answer above.
- On city-facing issues, we can continue to convert city buildings to renewable energy and we can change city infrastructure by expanding public transportation, like buses and even light rail. At the community level, we should find ways to finance people who are willing to convert their homes or businesses to renewable energy. Many people in our community want to go green; their barrier is not lack of will but financial. Additionally, the Midwest should have the reputation around wind energy that Saudi Arabia does for oil. We must invest further in expanding wind energy infrastructure if possible — this will require state and county collaboration. In order to affect this broad level of change, city officials must coordinate with community organizers and activists fighting for climate justice.
- We must make Madison easier to live in without a car. Cars are expensive, inaccessible to the poor, and inefficient. The first step is to expand bus services on the north and south side. As we investigate Bus Rapid Transit, this will also help ensure that rapid transit helps everyone, not just suburban and professional commuters. We also need to advocate to undo Scott Walker’s mistakes and continue to push for the possibility of a light rail system locally and a high-speed rail system statewide.We should continue to push for city buildings, including affordable housing developments, to be as environmentally sustainable as possible. The work of moving away from fossil fuels can create jobs — environmental justice is about social justice.
- As alder, I will ensure compliance with the Common Council’s resolution and will use economic and social tools such as, incentivizing the use of alternative transportation (i.e., walking, biking), providing subsidies for environmental justice initiatives, and awarding tax credits to businesses and/or individuals taking action to reduce their carbon footprint. Work to reduce our carbon footprint also needs to include community education and tips/resources to reduce our personal carbon footprint such as using less plastic and adding solar panels to the roof of homes. I will also strive to collaborate with local organizations and/or systems working towards sustainability and environmental justice such as 350 Madison and the Renew Wisconsin.
- As Alder, I will honor existing city policies such as the purchase of diesel Metro buses and disposal of the corresponding older fleet, allocating EECBG (Energy Efficiency & Conservation Block Grant) funds to help finance the development of affordable housing, and administering solar programs for residential, business, and affordable housing solar installations through 2023. I also intend to support and/or create city policy in line with Governor Ever’s statewide plan to become carbon neutral by 2050, such as setting energy saving goals for state agencies and promoting training for jobs in solar and wind power.
- Madison’s ambitious goals for 100% renewable energy and net-zero carbon emissions are both laudable and critical to our city’s sustainable future. And while some goals are long-term ambitions, we can start by clearly understanding current barriers within our own communities. Without going through this ‘discovery’ process, we risk failing to act in a meaningful way. For instance, we know and understand the need to reduce car trips and incentivize increased use of non-carbon emitting modes of transportation, like biking and walking. And we understand that to reduce overall car trips, citizens need alternative modes of transportation that are efficient, affordable and reliable. But how can we establish a strategy that makes those goals a reality? As Alder, I would bring the community together to identify and inventory specific locations within the district that constrain ‘bikeability’ and ‘walkability’. This can be achieved by meeting with each neighborhood association for direct input from local neighbors, so we have a shared understanding of the places that we can transform to improve the overall environment. For example, are there areas where bike trails are interrupted, and as a result reduce biking safety and serve to discourage biking in general? Can we identify specific places that are unsafe for pedestrians, and as a result discourage and reduce walking in general? Once interested stakeholders identify these common areas for improvement, we can develop a strategy to work with the City to address the issues.
- I’m concerned that so much attention on these issues seems to be focused on actions that can be taken downtown and on the isthmus in general. The reality is, that reducing Madison’s carbon emissions needs a whole-of-Madison approach. While I’m encouraged by the Bus Rapid Transit plan, the proposed BRT line doesn’t solve current mobility issues in the 16th District or across the greater East Side, which is something that needs to be addressed in ongoing planning discussions. As Alder, I would lead an effort to make sure that the BRT line has efficient connections to District 16, which would simultaneously amplify emissions reductions overall and promote the ability of more Madisonians to have efficient, reliable and cost-effective transit options into and out of downtown and to workplaces across the community. I was also dismayed to read a recent announcement about the expansion of Trek E-Bike program, but again, only making commitments for new e-bike stations in the downtown area. Why wouldn’t we bring that same amenity to the East Side? In particular — E-bike stations could be used to connect neighbors to the BRT line and provide more efficient mobility across Madison. So again, these developments are critically important toward reducing carbon emissions, but we should be looking for ways to expand access to neighborhoods and communities on the East Side that experience consistent mobility issues.
- I think it is very important that we continue to leverage advances in technology that make renewable energy sources a viable and consistent source for our energy. Every year advances in wind and solar technologies prove that our future can be fully powered by these sources. As someone who has been in the technology industry for over two decades, I enjoy keeping up with these technological advances. Solar has a very bright future as photovoltaic cell efficiency continues to advance rapidly and prove that we can obtain significant energy from our sun. As we continue to move toward our goals, we must also allocate resources to ensure affordable energy for individuals and families who struggle with increasing energy costs.
- As someone who has been in the technology industry, I stay informed of the advances in renewable energy technology. I will always bring that perspective to the table when we discuss the future of Madison’s impact on our environment. We have several solar arrays owned and operated by MGE with additional farms coming online soon. As city leaders, we need to ensure we continue to partner with MGE and others to ensure the continued expansion of these types of projects.
- We need to achieve significant change across our transportation, energy, and food systems. These changes are necessary and possible, and can be made in ways that increase resilience and reduce disparities in our community.As District 18 Alder, I have served on multiple transportation boards, commissions, and committees over the past six years. As a member of the committee that overhauled the City’s transportation ordinances, I supported the re-establishment of the Transportation Department to provide system-wide planning capacity, as well as an office to organize partnerships with surrounding communities in anticipation of the happy day when we will be able to establish a Regional Transportation Authority. I successfully advocated for a comprehensive route study at Metro to improve service to outlying areas that will not see immediate improvements with a Bus Rapid Transit system. I fully support transitioning the Metro fleet to all electric busses as soon as possible, as well as public investment in solar facilities to power them.I have championed projects to strengthen sustainable local food systems, such as the Northside Planning Council’s Food Enterprise and Economic Development (FEED) Kitchens. I successfully advocated for studying the feasibility of a food terminal cross-dock facility at the former Oscar Mayer site, which would allow local smaller-scale producers to collectively meet the needs of larger buyers, such as school districts or hospital systems. As a member of the Food Policy Council, I worked on the development of the 2021 Healthy Community Food Systems Fund, which expanded SEED grants for food security and launched a regional planning process to strengthen our local food system.
I support making data on the City’s greenhouse gas emissions public, to ensure that we get on track to reach our energy and carbon goals and that those goals are consistent with the current climate science of how quickly we must act. In 2019, the City committed to achieving 100 percent renewable energy and zero net carbon emissions by 2030, but last year the American Council for Energy-Efficient Economy projected that we will not meet those goals or our previously passed sustainability plan.
- City policy is developed through our boards, committees, and commissions. As an Alder and as a member of the City’s Transportation Policy and Planning Board, Madison Food Policy Council, and Economic Development and Finance Committees, I don’t limit myself to pushing for incremental improvements. I work with visionaries in our community and beyond to push for system-level changes.We need to move as quickly as possible to reduce the number of single-occupancy vehicles on our roads given the effects of carbon emissions on the climate and environment, and the growth in our community. In addition to the planned Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, we need to optimize Metro Bus routes in outlying areas where BRT will never reach and where many transit-dependent people live. That’s why I sponsored a system-wide study that is now underway and will hopefully yield results long before BRT is implemented. We also need to improve access to modes of transportation other than single-occupancy vehicles so that all ages and abilities feel safe to walk and bike in their neighborhoods and throughout the city.
- I will work with my colleagues on the Council to support and expand the programs and initiatives that are effective in moving us toward this important goal. We must continue to build partnerships that will increase energy efficiency, encourage the use of renewable energy, and promote conservation efforts. I support initiatives that make access to solar panels easier and more affordable for City residents and commercial buildings (MadiSUN). We must continue to work to increase renewable energy purchases (the MPower program). I support efforts to ensure new developments are EV-ready as well as the updates to the stormwater management ordinance that will help mitigate the effects of climate change through helping to reduce flooding.
- Our City vehicles should be electric vehicles and I will work to help us transition our fleet. New City buildings should be LEED-certified. Initiatives such as MadiSUN and MPower, which are effective, should be supported and expanded. We need to invest in practices that promote sustainability and reduce carbon emissions. The City has a special role to play, because our City government is both a steward of resources as well as a consumer.
- I have and will continue to be supportive of efforts in our policies and budget to support Madison’s goal. I’m excited about the work of the Sustainable Madison Committee to make the City’s sustainability plan more actionable. We are already seeing the impact of Climate Change on our community and it’s incredibly important for us to be aggressive and creative with our actions to mitigate it.
- State law and budget constraints do limit our ability, but I think it’s important for us to be creative in our efforts. I support the City’s efforts to use clean energy, like solar panels on City buildings and migration of our City’s fleet to electric. We must learn from other municipalities, states and now the Federal government’s effort to reduce carbon emissions. I’m incredibly excited, for example, at the Biden-Harris’ administration’s goal on transforming the federal vehicle fleet to electric. Their investments will help improve and lower the cost of the transition for all.
- Protecting our environment is one of my biggest priorities in my campaign for city council. I support the resolution to establish 100% renewable energy and net-zero carbon emissions community-wide. As Alder, I will work to have city-owned utilities that entirely use renewable energy. Utilities that are managed by the city, as opposed to a company that monopolizes on energy, means that the focus can be turned from profits to actually making a sustainable difference for our environment. In the meantime, I support creating incentives for small businesses and individuals to install renewable energy sources.
- There are many policies that could make a substantial difference in reducing carbon emissions such as implementing a carbon tax and regulating industry carbon emission, but what can we get done at the city level? I support expanding the Public Transit System in Madison so that more of the community is served, the use of electric buses, continuing to promote the use of bikes for commuters and creating schools as “no idling zones” to reduce carbon emissions.