Christian von Preysing-Barry. That's his full name according to his website, but his Facebook also includes an "S.a." before all of that. Unconventional punctuation and capitalizations are but one intriguing aspect of CVPB's candidacy for the 8th district of the Madison Common Council.
A recent UW grad and a medical registrar for Access Community Health Centers, Presying-Barry, 23, is a political novice. He says he first began paying attention to city politics two-and-a-half years ago, when he and some friends, in protest of Freakfest, organized a movement to hold an alternative Halloween party on Mifflin St.
"It ended up getting too much support," he says. After the group's message sparked a major following on Facebook, the friends met with the mayor and the police department, who convinced them another party of thousands on Mifflin would be unsafe. They disbanded the effort.
Nevertheless, changing Halloween remains a priority of Preysing-Barry's. Although he believes police presence is necessary to keep students safe, he says making people pay to enter State St is "outside the spirit of the event."
Like his two opponents, Preysing-Barry also emphasizes the importance of making more entertainment venues accessible to underage students. The other positions on his website generally touch on other priorities of students and lefties, including crime, the environmental and affordable housing.
He is also particularly outspoken on the issue of animal testing. "It's always been important to me, but it's also what's most salient right now," he says, referring to the ongoing controversy over testing on primates at UW. Preysing-Barry is also a vegetarian, which, unless things have changed since I last talked to Kyle Szarzynski about the issue (2-3 years ago), would make him the second vegetarian in the field.
Preysing-Barry, who is running the campaign with only the help of his girlfriend, says his independence from local parties and campus groups distinguishes him from his opponents, and helps keep him independent and "better grounded."
"It makes me feel freer as a candidate, never having to ask somebody how they want me to tailor my policies," he explains.
On opponent Scott Resnick: "My one concern about Scott is he is focusing solely on crime and housing. I haven't heard too much from him outside of that, and I've hoped for a candidate who is willing to explore more than that."
On opponent Kyle Szarzynski: "Kyle has definitely been a champion of the marginalized, but my concern is he is worrying too much about individuals who aren't in our community [District 8], and he's never shown any restraint in his proposals. I don't know where the funding is going to come from."
Preysing-Barry also voiced little enthusiasm about incumbent Ald. Bryon Eagon's tenure on the Council, saying he "hadn't heard much from his representation" and that Eagon's website was "empty."
It will be interesting to see how CVBP does next Tuesday. He says he has been out knocking on doors and talking to student groups, which means he's figured out at least the first step of local politics. However, his admitted inability to get others to work on his campaign suggests the fight against two candidates with establishment-backing will be an uphill battle.
It's up to you, Christian, to surprise us all.