"I have always been an avid follower of city issues," says Adam Casey, one of four candidates running to replace longtime Ald. Judy Olson in the near-east-side 6th district. "Working in (and growing up in a family that had) a small business have given me perspective on how local government can effect people in business."
Casey is 33 and unmarried, and works as a manager and wine purchaser at Star Liquor on Willy Street. He's lived in Madison since 1991,and has worked six and lived two years within the district.
Casey is the only candidate in the district planning to raise and spend no more than $1,000 on his campaign. He is also the only candidate whose father is a Wisconsin mayor. Craig Casey, the longtime mayor of Wisconsin Dells, is retiring in may to run their family flower shop and greenhouse.
A brief interview with Adam Casey follows.
The Daily Page: District 6 is rapidly becoming denser with the growth of developments like Union Corners. What is the ideal level of density that you would like to see on the near east side, and how can it be affordable?
Casey: Density and development are pressing issues across the city of Madison, but they are really a focus in District 6 where we have so much new and pending development. I don't know that there really is an ideal density level, but what I would like to see, and many people I have spoken to would like to see, is a good balance between single family homes and multi-unit housing.
In a growing city like Madison, a decision needs to be made whether we want to encourage more sprawl or more density in the city center. I would also like to see a uniform policy citywide laying out what is expected of developers in their projects. That way we can avoid the appearance of picking and choosing among developments.
What do you think the status of the Central Park concept will be by the end of this decade?
What I sincerely hope to see is a vibrant green space in what is now a dilapidated, mostly vacant industrial and rail corridor.
I would like to see a park that attracts people from all over the city to spend some time in our district. I would like to see a park that helps to spark the redevelopment of East Washington Avenue by encouraging the development of mixed use buildings that will offer people a place to live and work.
The park is an ambitious project that has a long way to go. I have recently worked with the Urban Open Space Foundation on a benefit, and I can assure you that there is no lack of enthusiasm among the people I worked with.
You say that your father's work in the Wisconsin Dells local government has been one inspiration for you to run. What has this taught you in terms of formulating and shepherding municipal policies? What is the first change you would want to make in city policy should you be elected?
I think the things I have learned from watching my father participate in city government are invaluable.
First off, I learned that it is not a commitment to be taken lightly. I also learned how important it is to be willing to compromise and try to work thru any impasse that comes about.
It is more important to get things done than it is to be right. Government on all levels has become such an us-against-them situation that sometimes very good arguments from opposing voices are simply dismissed. Government, especially city government, should be about trying to do the most good for the most people.
He also taught me to remember the practical side of city government is really its most important job. That involves a lot of making sure garbage is picked up, roads are plowed, and thousands of other mundane tasks are accomplished so that the departments working on them are running smoothly and efficiently.
What kind of transit must the city foster in order to assist commuters from and passing through District 6?
Madison is a city that needs good mass transit. As growth continues, there will be more and more people in their cars clogging our already crowded streets and pouring more pollution into the air. As of now, Madison Metro is not going to convince many people to give up their cars and travel on the bus. It is simply not convenient enough to use as a full time travel option if you can do a lot better by simply hopping in your car.
In District 6, we are very close to the city center and Metro is still a hard sell to use for traveling around Madison. I hope that in the very near future there is serious change made to the bus system that will allow it to thrive and encourage more and more people from throughout the city to use it.
You contend political parties have too much influence in Madison city government, are only accepting donations under $100, and say you "intend to represent the people of my district by listening to what they have to say." What have you done and what are you doing to get acquainted with people living in the district?
I have worked directly with the public in District 6 for more than six years. I have to say, one of the most wonderful things about people in this district is that they all have ideas and opinions about the way things ought to be, and they very rarely hesitate to share them.
I have spent and plan to spend even more time going door to door, simply talking to the people of the district and finding out what they think. I love the fact that so many divergent ideas live and work together in this part of our city.
What kinds of developments would you like to see in the East Washington corridor between the Capitol and the Yahara River? How should TIF be used any projects suggested for this area?
I like the idea that East Washington Avenue is the gateway to Madison, as it is the way that many people enter into our city. The redevelopment of this area offers a lot of opportunity to change an area that has been underused for many years.
I guess the type of development I would like to see would include multi-use buildings with viable businesses as their base. I have a soft spot as most people in the district do for small locally owned businesses that are the flavor of our unique part of the city, and would like to see the development focus on encouraging them. TIF should be used as a support mechanism to encourage this development, and if used properly, TIF offers the city a tool to lure economically viable project that in the long run will benefit the entire city.
Note: Adam Casey is not operating a campaign website.