Samba Baldeh, Common Council Candidate, Madison D17
1) Why are you running for the particular office that you are seeking
I am running for Common Council to make sure all the residents of District 17 have a voice at city hall, and to make sure Madison is doing everything possible to address the profound issue of equity in our community. I want to hold community forums and communicate regularly with my constituents to learn what they care about, whether the issue is pedestrian safety around neighborhood schools or city spending on private projects. As a community, we will all do better when everyone is doing better, and when everyone is involved.
I am also running to advocate for policy decisions that will support strong, safe neighborhoods, which is important to supporting our schools, individuals, families and elders. As a small business owner, a software engineer and an immigrant, I have a lot of experience learning new situations and information and I will use that ability in the best interest of my district and the city. I also have a good deal of experience volunteering in the community – Big Brothers, Big Sisters, AIDS Network, translating for hospital and clinic patients, and helping organizing community conversations with police, for examples. These experiences have helped me see the diversity and needs of our community, and will allow me to be a representative for everyone. I have had great opportunities to learn from people I’ve worked with as president of the Senegambia Association, a board member of the African Association and a member of 100 Black Men.
2) What is your campaign’s strategy to be successful during the election?
My strategy is first to reach out to my community, let them know why I am running but also listen to their issues and concerns. Once this message and two way dialogue is established, I will make every possible effort to reach out to all my constituent members and ask for their support and vote. I also plan to send literature in the mail for residents that I am not able to meet in person or knock their doors.
I also plan to engage my friends particularly those in the district to volunteer and knock doors. I will try and engage businesses particularly small and minority businesses to make sure their issues are heard. While my main strategy will be to knock every door, I will also make robo calls and media interviews to highlight the campaign platform and the need for change.
3) Why is it important for people of color to run for political office?
Our community is made up of people who come from diverse backgrounds and experiences. If political office-holders reflect that same diversity of background and experience, we could have a more democratic local government, and one that is more focused on the needs of the people. Too often, policies are made without considering the opportunity cost, including the cost to people who have the least access to opportunity. If people are invisible to officials, then it is not likely people will really be represented, even if office-holders mean them no harm. There is also a diversity of style and inclusiveness that can go with diverse backgrounds. Our local democracy will be healthier when it can be informed by the richness of other traditions.