Civic Engagement 101: Get to Know Your Alder

by Safety Connection

Civic Engagement is a privilege and a responsibility, and it goes beyond voting. It takes time to be informed about the issues and know how to speak into the ones you care about. But YOU can make a difference!

Madison, and many cities, are facing critical issues. Debt is growing at a record rate, partly due to the pandemic. Madison’s Bus Rapid Transit system is impacting our city in all kinds of ways, as are zoning issues and development. Public health and safety are growing issues. The national narrative of injustice surrounding policing is certainly having an impact on our own Madison Police Department, with several policy issues being decided soon.

There are so many issues to care about. Do you know how to make your concerns known to our city’s leadership?

In Madison, the Mayor and 20 alders make virtually all the decisions that happen at the city level. Each alder, in theory, represents the concerns and interests of the constituents of their district to the Common Council.

If you have a concern or input on an issue, email or call your alder. They are a vital link connecting residents to those with the power to change things.

Of course it doesn’t always work this way and many alders have an agenda they’re set on, or even loyalties to the party that endorsed them. Still, it is our duty as residents to communicate with our alders and engage with city leadership when we have ideas, thoughts, or concerns. It’s how a democratic republic works.

The first step is to identify your district and the alder who represents it. You can look up your district and corresponding alder here.

To see all of Madison’s alders, and links to their contact information and blogs, click here.

Stay tuned for our next post in this series about the Madison Common Council and how city government decisions are made.

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