District 15 is split into two sections; the larger is comprised of the mostly residential neighborhoods clustered around Atwood Avenue and the north end of Monona Drive, while the smaller includes sections of several neighborhoods south of the airport. Incumbent Larry Palm is being challenged by Vicky Selkowe in one of the more contentious races this spring.
Vicky Selkowe, 33, has lived n the district since 2005, and in Madison since 2000. A graduate of the UW Law School, she works as a poverty attorney and manager for the Wisconsin Council on Children & Families. She is the vice-chair of the city's Affirmative Action Commission and a member of the Equal Opportunities Commission.
Selkowe is also s secretary of the Worthington Park Neighborhood Association and a founder of the Eastside Neighborhoods Traffic Action Group. A labor activist, she formerly served on the bargaining team for AFT Local 3220 and as a council member for the Workers' Rights Center. Selkowe is endorsed by Progressive Dane.
Larry Palm, also 33, is a one-term incumbent and does not identify how long he has lived in the 15th. He has worked as a secretary for the Madison Metropolitan School District since 1994 and has served on a variety of community organizations, including a decade on the Madison Public Library Board, as treasurer for Friends of Starkweather Creek and as a co-founder of the Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools.
Palm is a past co-chair of the Eken Park Neighborhood Association and a vice-president of Capital Neighborhoods. He's served on the city's Board of Public Works, Commission on the Environment, Downtown Coordinating Committee and the brand new Garver Feed Mill Re-use Committee.
The Daily Page conducted an email Q&A with each candidate.
Their responses follow.
[Did not respond]
The Daily Page: Please identify what you consider to be the most important issue in your district and what you are going to do about it.
Development pressures. I will involve and engage neighbors and push developers to respond to neighborhood concerns in the Judy Olson model, continue to fight for meaningful TIF reform, and ensure projects fit & enhance our neighborhoods.
What's one thing the city can do to address criticisms of its business climate?
Stop accepting the spin that Madison is bad for business and become the biggest cheerleader and supporter of our local businesses.
Two wheels, four wheels and rails. Where should the city go?
We've already got great infrastructure for those on two wheels; we need to maintain and expand bike trails to reach more of the east and north sides. My priority is with our bus system. We've got to do more to enhance and expand our bus system and unlike my opponent, I will be a strong supporter of Metro. I will also work to implement a sound regional transportation system.
What one thing can the city do that it's not currently doing to increase the availability of affordable housing?
Two things: Fund the affordable housing trust fund at levels that would allow it to be the resource it was intended to be for building new affordable units, helping workers and their families get into (and stay in) existing affordable housing, and renovate older units. We also have to work far harder to connect Madison residents to skill training to allow them to get and keep high paying jobs.
List three things you think the city should spend less money on, and three things on which it should spend more.
- Contracts with companies that owe their workers wages or that owe the state unemployment compensation or other taxes
- Road and highway expansion at the edge of town
- The Convention and Visitors Bureau
- Traffic calming
- Programs that connect workers to skill training opportunities
- Our bus system so that it truly becomes a workforce transportation system that gets us to/from our homes and lives efficiently and conveniently.
Do you foresee a situation where you might vote contrary to the express wishes of your constituents?
I'm sure every vote an alder takes is contrary to the wishes of at least one constituent. The thousands of conversations I've had with District 15 voters have made clear, though, that my values are very consistent with those of my future constituents. There are times, however, when an alder has to see the bigger picture and consider what would be best for the entire city and that may not be what some constituents want.
Name the thing you like least about Madison.
The east side versus west side debate; we all know that the east side is far, far superior.
Who is your favorite ex-mayor?
Bert Zipperer. Oh, wait?
Do you think that rates for parking tickets are too high or too low?
I think they're just about right, though I definitely think they're too high when the ticket is on my own windshield...
How often do you take Metro?
As often as possible, though not as often as when I was going to and from campus every day during law school.
Wisconsin State Journal or The Capital Times?
Madison Mallards or Mad Rollin' Dolls?
The Dolls, absolutely; those women are awesome.
Would you rather spend Halloween with the crowds or cops?
Neither -- I'd rather spend it at home, handing out candy to the kids in my neighborhood.
Name the most botched public issue in town.
The lack of attention we're paying to the condition of our lakes.