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Madison Needs To Elect Intelligent People In Spring Primary–Regardless of Race

February 16, 2019

I have been rather taken aback by the allowance of a narrative gaining traction in Madison that we are a racially divided city.  Listening to some of the candidates running for mayor, or those who have hopes for the school board, would have us think we are just shy of having drinking fountains being labeled by race in this place we call home.   We are told that to show true leadership concerning issues of race requires minority candidates prevailing at the ballot box.

This blog has not been shy to cast light on those who pedal racism, or use bigotry to run races, or shape public policy.  This blog has also been very supportive to the high calling of those who seek office and work with gusto to make a difference through the electoral process.   I champion those who use their civics education to make a positive difference.  I am also one of those who support paying our elected officials a wage worthy of their work.

But at the end of all the high hopes, placing of lawn signs. and door knocks there must be a most vital ingredient added to the mix.  We must demand intelligence from those we place on the board, or in the offices of power.   While it is obvious that the school board should, and must, reflect the student body, it is also obvious that to suggest only racial minorities can meet the needs of all the students is far short of reasonableness.

Rather than looking to the skin tones as we cast a ballot, it seems a better fit for a city that prides itself as the home of UW-Madison, to vote for the brightest and most intellectual candidates.  To even need to write such words, or post them, makes me wonder if this is 2019.

Given what Madison is now supposed to feel about itself, given the running narrative from some aspiring candidates, means that mocking faces surely were cast after reading this portion of an Isthmus article.

Soglin was the only candidate Isthmus interviewed who unequivocally rejected the contention that Madison is “a racist city.”

“This is not a racist city. There is racism in this city,” he says. “There is the legacy of institutional racism within our state.”

When asked if it’s simply time for Madison to have a mayor who isn’t a white man, Soglin lets out a heavy sigh.

“[Voters] are going to have to ask themselves whether that is more important than keeping us going in the direction that’s been so successful.”

Let there be no mistake that we have an obligation as a city to make sure we have more minority owned businesses.   To have graduation rates that are sharply different between the races at our high schools is just not acceptable.   To not expect all parents to carry the load of their responsibilities is not something we as a society can allow.   All of these issues are city concerns.

But to pretend that no intellectual grounding can take the place of heartfelt commitment derived by the life experiences of people of color makes a sham of the very foundations of education.   If that then has become the bottom line for officeholders in Madison there is only one thing left to be done.

When the ballot qualifications are written it needs to be stated that candidates must be people of color.

Again, to even need to write such words, or post them, makes me wonder if this is 2019.  Or the Madison I once knew.

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