The highest-profile race so far in the spring 2007 Madison Common Council elections continues to heat up. On Sunday, Dec. 10, Marcus Watson announced his candidacy in the race for the District 12 aldermanic seat, becoming the fourth candidate to do so. Covering a diverse array of neighborhoods just to the south and west of the Dane County airport, the seat is being vacated by Ald. Brian Benford. Also running for the seat are Michael Basford, Mark Deadman, and Satya Rhodes-Conway, with two moving on after a Feb. 20 primary election. Marcus Watson, a north-side homeowner for 15 years, is a regular contributor to the Northside News neighborhood newsletter, and reports that he makes "sick money being a garbage man."
A brief interview with Watson follows below.
The Daily Page: You say you would be 'progressive' with your ideas and 'conservative' with money should you be elected. Can you give a specific example for each?
Watson: As a truly independent candidate who pledges to vote district first, city second, my ideas are my own based on a desire to spend my constituents money wisely. If you tax a man a dime, he'll give it, but he won't like it. Give him a good time for a dollar, and he'll give it freely, not even remembering spending it. With my unique relationship with local musicians, promoters, DJs and venues, I intend to manage, promote, and emcee a series of events to raise funds for District 12 charities and promote local businesses decreasing the burden on the city coffers. It's an idea that is at once progressive and conservative.
What will you do to create a second pool at Warner Park?
The actual city budget money for the pool is scheduled for a 2011 disbursement. This behooves us to first solve existing Warner Park issues, the paramount being the Mallards park renovation. The continued nurturing of such a family-friendly and successful organization will inspire fundraising and solve a lot of traffic and parking problems now instead of later.
You state that you will not accept any financial donations from individuals or organizations, and will 'only be beholden' to the people of District 12. How do you plan on learning their interests and concerns with regards to city hall?
As a 27-year active rugby player, I am impervious to the elements, mostly through loss of cranial sensory synapse function. I gotta' quit this game. That being said, I am enduring long, dark hours meeting the people of my district, a lot of whom surprisingly seem to know me. I think I have some memory loss as well. What I'm finding is that in a lot of houses, the city council has an approval rating hovering somewhere between Bush and Cheney. It is their ideas, if not their anger, that I will take to the hill in April.
You have contributed regularly to the Northside News for some time now. What have you learned during your time writing for the newsletter, and how would you apply these lessons if you were alder?
The difference between a blogger and a reporter is that it's much easier to sue a reporter. The twin demons of libel and slander loom, compounding the basic fear of just getting s**t wrong. Throw in the eternal editor who can change, corrupt, or simply kill your story and the job of the reporter far surpasses the lone mental mumblings of the sheltered blogger. I intend to use my reporting skills to form policy. Get the facts, talk to the experts, and get people on record. I will rely on the reality-based community to gain consensus.
What's the biggest improvement you feel you could make to District 12 as its alderperson?
I don't think the district needs improving as much as shepherding. The twin tenets of long-term residents and working-class values have already given us low-crime, kid-friendly, and culturally-conscious neighborhoods. I think my hyphen button is stuck. Development is coming and a hand steeped in this culture must chart its course.
You face three opponents in the primary, Mike Basford, Mark Deadman, and Satya Rhodes-Conway, all of whom have been gearing up their campaigns over the last month or so. What's the primary difference between you and your opponents?
My opponents are all excellent candidates. The primary difference is that one can find many of their primary electable qualities firmly bound in me. I share Basford's love of accessible green space, Conway's giving and listening nature, and Deadman's deep understanding of neighborhood tradition and lore. Any of us would make a serviceable alder person but I would ask that you vote for me.
Note: Marcus Watson is not currently operating a campaign website, but his writing about northside events and issues can be found at the online edition of the Northside News.