Three candidates running to be Madison’s next mayor answered questions at a public forum about their ideas for the city’s future.
MADISON (WKOW) — The three candidates who will appear on the February 21 ballot for the Madison mayor race spoke at a public forum Monday, answering questions about their plans for the city and why they want the job.
Current mayor Satya Rhodes Conway, former deputy mayor Gloria Reyes and longtime city employee Scott Kerr shared their views on topics including city finances, neighborhood planning, bus rapid transit and public safety.
Rhodes-Conway said she thinks the city and police department’s current approach to crime is the right one. She said she supports continuing to use data to identify trends and more effectively use police department resources.
“We need to let our police officers do the things that they are best at doing, and that involves working on violent crime,” she said. “But we also have to make sure that we’re investing in the things that reduce crime in the long term.”
One of Rhodes-Conway’s challengers, Kerr, said he thinks Madison needs more police officers on the streets. He said he also supports having all officers wear body cameras. He pointed to the beating of Tire Nichols in Memphis as a reason why body cameras are important.
“Body cameras are not the only answer,” he said. “We also need overhead traffic cameras to help capture the scene. … I’m hoping that we never have a Memphis-type situation in Madison, but, if we do, I want to make sure we have the cameras to prove exactly what happened .”
Reyes said she also supports police officers wearing body cameras, but that’s not her main issue. She said she wants to reduce violent crime and establish a homicide review commission.
“When I left the mayor’s office, we had four homicides per year, and now we’re trending 10 homicides per year,” she said. “That concerns me.”
Reyes and Rhodes-Conway said they believe it is important to reduce gun violence in Madison and voiced their support for Public Health Madison & Dane County’s violence prevention initiatives.
Rhodes-Conway and Kerr said they want to expand services that respond when someone in the city is having a mental health crisis.
The primary election is February 21. All three candidates will appear on the ballot, and the top two vote-getters will move on to the primary election on April 4.
A fourth candidate, Daniel Howell, is running a write-in campaign for mayor. Howell attended Monday’s forum, but did not answer questions.