It’s been four months since I was sworn in, and honestly – it’s been a whirlwind. During this time, I’ve been focused on building a team and laying the groundwork for collaborations that will help us build a city where everyone can thrive.
I am committed to building relationships, not only with the residents of the City, but also with leaders, both municipal, neighborhood and private sector. I’ve met with every council member, City department and division heads, more than 60 community leaders and groups, 17 business leaders and seven local mayors. It has been great to see old partners and meet new ones. I am meeting regularly with School District leaders, UW Madison officials and Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. I traveled for meetings in Washington, D.C. with federal officials, and of course our congressional delegation. I’ve had the opportunity to meet with Governor Evers and our local State Representatives and Senators. These relationships will be something I depend on to accomplish our shared goals, and to meet our collective challenges.
I am focused on the priorities I ran on – the priorities that I still hear about from all of you. We’re putting more money towards affordable housing, and investigating ways to protect existing affordable housing, prevent displacement, and increase the supply of housing overall. We’re in conversations with UW Madison about how to make our city more resilient to the impacts of climate change, and focusing on how we can reduce the impacts of flooding, including through green infrastructure. I have engaged in a series of consultations with community groups and staff regarding the City’s response to mental health crises, and discussed our efforts on diversity and inclusion with CEOs, including American Family, UW Health, State of Wisconsin Investment Board and our Chamber of Commerce. I’ve included racial equity and sustainability as a budget criterion as city staff scored the entire city budget.
We are working hard to plan and fund Bus Rapid Transit and the modern infrastructure the city needs to grow and thrive. I traveled to Washington DC to lobby for a $7 million federal grant to secure space for a new bus facility. That funding and the facility is a critical step in building out our Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and regional transit capacity. I garnered support from our entire delegation as well as our County Executive, local mayors, and private business leaders, and I look forward to working closely with our Washington and local partners as our journey towards BRT continues.
And there are plenty of other things going on:
I’ve listened to South Park Street area residents and worked with SSM health to create a collaborative partnership, which helped ensure an equitable conclusion to a new clinic site. We are continuing to work to ensure long term food retail access plan in the area as well.
I responded to a major utility fire, making sure the public was safe and informed, and in the aftermath demanding to know what went wrong from the utilities and as we await results from the investigation, I am still on their case on the clean up the site.
I broke a long-term log jam on the Buckeye Road project, which is now underway.
We’re working on long term solutions around housing first and homelessness.
But there have been some fun moments, too!
I raised the pride flag and celebrated the 5th anniversary of LGBTQ Marriage in Wisconsin.
I helped launch B-Cycle’s new fleet of e-bikes.
I held several community coffees, where I got to chat with residents all over the city.
I attended Opera in the Park, Dane Dances, Atwood Fest, WestFest, and many other community events.
So it really has been a whirlwind – in a good way. There’s no question we face some tough challenges, but I have confidence in our great city, and I look forward to the next months and years as your Mayor.