City Platform

Revised and Approved by the Progressive Dane Membership, December General Membership Meeting, 2016.

As members of Progressive Dane, we dedicate ourselves to these goals and principles:

1. Open and Democratic Government

2. Housing Justice

3. Policing

4. Protecting Civil and Human Rights

5. Quality Healthcare and Public Health

6. Sustainable Economic Development

7. Land Use and Environment

8. Safe, Efficient, Accessible Transportation

9. Employment Rights of Employees

10. Tax Justice and Local Sovereignty

Progressive Dane commits itself to working for the initiatives, democratically suggested and agreed to by its members that are included in this platform. In particular, we support and advocate for measures best designed to achieve:

  • Housing for All;
  • Equal and Just Communities;
  • An End to Corporate Welfare; and
  • Family Supporting Jobs for Dane County.

1. Open and Democratic Government

We support open, accountable, and understandable government that fosters meaningful civic engagement by the public as well as election systems that are free from the influence and impact of private money. We support:

a.  Ensuring all City of Madison decisions are made through an equity lens with an intentional effort to gather input from a diverse set of voices.  Ensuring that an equity lens tools is adopted and used in all city decisions.


b. The right of citizens to address the Common Council regarding any matter and the revision of ordinances to institute an open public comment period at the beginning of Council meetings.

c. Expanding opportunities to offer  informed and timely public input to all public officials.

d. Efforts to enhance the ability of all residents to fully participate in City boards, committees, and commissions.

e. Adopting an inclusive, transparent participatory budgeting process whereby the residents of Madison directly determine a portion of the City’s annual budgets.

f. Community education, government television, and other community media. These are vital to an open and democratic government and should be publicly supported when necessary.

g. Investing in necessary equipment, maintenance costs and staffing to ensure all city meetings are video recorded and easily available to the public.

h.  Making budget information more transparent, timely and understandable for members of the public, including adding what agencies are funded through the Community Development Division and allowing more time to consider alder amendments.


i. Full public financing of elections.

j. Establishing mandatory filing of campaign finance reports to the City in electronic format.

k. Making all public documents, including supporting materials for meeting agendas, easily accessible in a timely manner.

l. Extending local voting rights to all adult residents of Madison.

m. A resolution calling for state enabling legislation to allow local governments to use alternative electoral processes for local offices including instant runoff or ranked choice voting.

n. The use of voter-marked paper ballots at all polling places and hand-counts for an re-counts.

o. Policies that  ensure the right to vote free of intimidation or harassment.

p.  Citizen oversight and participation committees during redistricting with a majority of citizens voting on these committees.

q.   Keeping aldermanic districts at approximately 10,000 residents to keep elections affordable, constituent access more manageable and to allow elected officials to know their districts more intimately and better serve their constituents.


r . Strengthening the City ethics code. and providing a strong ethics training program and rigorous enforcement.

s.  Vigorous enforcement of the current City ordinance requiring the annual registration of lobbyists and a stronger and more straightforward lobbying law that provides for frequent reporting and disclosure by anyone being paid to influence elected officials and staff.

2. Housing Justice

We believe that housing is a human right. The City should ensure high quality, safe, fair, accessible, and affordable housing for all. We support:

a.  Ensuring that all decisions on affordable housing, fair housing, tenant rights and homelessness are made through an equity lens.

b. Policies that affirmatively further fair housing and facilitate economically diverse and inclusive neighborhoods and discourage discrimination and segregation in housing.


c. The development of additional affordable/low-income and accessible housing throughout the City, including the construction of new City housing, particularly in high opportunity areas accessible to transportation, jobs and food.

d. Progressive incentives for developers who maintain a substantial proportion of their developments as permanently affordable housing.

e. Flexible zoning policies that promote affordable housing alternatives, including co-ownership and cooperative housing arrangements, throughout the City.

f. Avoiding the use of eminent domain procedures against resident owners of private homes or against local owner-occupied businesses unless there is a clear benefit to the neighborhood and a substantial majority of the residents of Madison.

g. Zoning policies that increase the supply of quality affordable housing in all parts of the City.

h. Adequate funding and a dedicated funding source for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The City should put adequate funding mechanisms in place before the Trust Fund is depleted.

i.  Re-examining affordable housing programs to ensure that affordable housing dollars are reaching those most in need, below 30% Area Median Income (AMI), when possible and at a minimum below 50% AMI. 


j. Security of tenure for tenants occupying current traditional housing or transient shelter. and legal protections to enhance security of tenure, including a good cause standard for eviction.

k. Improved enforcement of tenant rights in accordance with the Madison General Ordinances and licensing of property owners and management companies renting three or more residential units so that repeat violators of housing regulations lose their licenses to rent residential units.

l. Prohibition on use of credit history which is unreliable, dated, or unrelated to a housing obligation, information from court records, or criminal convictions unrelated to housing, to discriminate among applicants for housing.

m. Urging the state legislature to repeal laws limiting local governments’ ability to expand housing opportunity and tenant protection.


n. Making available long-term housing to people without homes of their own, including making vacant public property available for housing the homeless.

o. Adequate shelter space for homeless individuals and families.

p. 24-7 access to facilities providing basic needs to homeless individuals and families.

q. Securing rights of those applying for and participating in emergency shelter and CDA housing programs to services delivered with respect, courtesy and care; and a third-party complaint process for grievances related to homeless shelter services and subsidized housing.

r. Prioritizing funding for no and low barrier housing, services that sensitive to trauma and its impact on people, and service models that meet clients where they are at without requiring sobriety to participate in city-funded housing programs for persons without homes.

3. Policing

We believe that the police must operate within the standards set by our community and that there must be significant community oversight and input into policing practices.  We support:

a.  Ensuring that that all policing and public safety decisions are viewed through an equity lens.

b. Effective formal  community control and oversight of the police.

c. Treating drug-related issues as a public health, rather than a law-enforcement concern.

d.  Establishing meaningful standards supported by the community that prevent over-policing of certain neighborhoods that contribute to our arrest disparity rates.

e. Transitioning funding away from law enforcement and towards community development, early childhood education and human services, ensuring that police are performing policing duties while other professionals are hired to do social work, mental health and other services.

f. Permitting non-disruptive use of alcohol in parks and call for alternative solutions to problematic behavior.

g. The current sanctuary City status; we oppose any cooperation of City agencies, including the police, with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and with any agency cooperating with the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

h.  Eliminating police enforcement of school discipline policies and limiting their presence and authority within the schools.

i. Rejecting militarization of the police.

j.  Ending the criminalization of poverty and homelessness.

k.  Rejecting funding that increases random stops and road checks that increase police contacts and opportunities for increasing our disparity rates.

l.  Decreases in forfeiture amounts for municipal tickets to decrease reliance of city services on this funding and any revenues generated from tickets should be dedicated to investing in the community.

m.  Restorative justice programs instead of a punitive or punishment models.

n.  Increasing efforts to emphasize de-escalation training and mental health training for all police officers.

o. Use of force policies that emphasize a duty to preserve life and use of proportional force.

p.  Rejecting state and federal law enforcement grants to conduct the "War on Drugs."

q.  Efforts to increase data collection on racial disparities and efforts to reduce those disparities.

4. Protecting Civil and Human Rights

City policy should support the civil rights of all, regardless of socioeconomic status, citizen status, disability, and all other Madison protected classes. City law enforcement agencies should consistently reflect the goal of protecting and serving the public. We consider the right to housing, access to healthy, nutritious and culturally appropriate food, education, safe drinking water and health care to be human rights. We support:

a. The protection and exercise of First Amendment rights in public spaces and parks, including the right to assemble and protest, record police and city officials (including legal observers), political and civic information tabling, and use of amplified sound within reasonable guidelines.

b. The right of all to enjoy public spaces and parks. We oppose over-policing and profiling of various populations, including the homeless, and support improvements to ensure access by the physically disabled. We oppose punitive ordinances, such as criminalization of loitering and/or pan-handling, that have the potential to target low income and minority populations in the City.

c. Strong defense and enforcement of the Equal Opportunities Ordinance.

d. Establishing rules to regulate city-sanctioned recording and large scale data collection in public spaces, particularly if it is used for profit.   

e. Banning the use of drones and public surveillance equipment in public, city-owned spaces.

f.  Supporting the separation of church and state.  Contracts with faith-based organizations must ensure fair,  open, and inclusive employment practices, and provide a full range of services unlimited by religious beliefs.

5. Quality Healthcare and Public Health

We believe it is important to sustain and improve high-quality health and safety-net programs. We support:

a.  Ensuring that funding decisions for health and safety-net programs are made through an equity lens.

b. Sufficient funding and annual cost-to-continue increases for service providers.

c. Improving and expanding job training; child care assistance for families and training for teachers; assistance to neighborhood organizations; services and accommodations for people with disabilities; domestic violence prevention; public health, including HIV and AIDS services, prevention and education; dental services, services for the homeless; services for tenants; alcohol and drug abuse treatment services; and medical and legal services for the poor.

d Consumer protection; libraries; parks; and public spaces for meetings, assembly and art.

e. Initiatives that promote clean air for the health, safety and comfort of workers and the general public and to give people with respiratory illness fair access.

f.  Health care coverage that includes gender transition.

6. Sustainable Economic Development

We support economic development that will assist people to become self-sustaining members of the Madison community. City policy should promote economic development to benefit the public by creating family-supporting jobs; equal opportunity; a rising standard of living; and a more equal distribution of wealth while guaranteeing workers’ rights. The City of Madison should have an Economic Development Plan that is annually updated through a public process, that actually guides the City’s decision, including budget and planning decisions, and that focuses on neighborhoods most in need of investment. We support:

a.  Ensuring that all economic development decisions are made through an equity lens.

b. Neighborhood-based economic development and City policy that fosters small, local and start-up businesses/worker owned cooperatives, for example: entrepreneurial training, micro lending, business incubators, business-owned storefronts, assistance with business plans and identifying available office and manufacturing locations and other resources.

c. City contracts that, in granting economic support for development projects or purchase of goods and services, prioritize locally owned firms, minority owned firms, women owned firms, unionized firms, worker owned cooperatives, and firms with a proven track record of recruiting and hiring a diverse workforce, offering affordable health care, and respecting workers' rights, as well as good environmental, safety, labor and civil rights histories.

d. City policy to promote and expand job training and educational opportunities, particularly to benefit those who have been under-represented due to income status, disability, gender/gender identity, sexual orientation, racial and ethnic background, including undocumented workers.

e City policy to provide programs of economic and social aid and protection to our community’s most vulnerable residents. Such programs should be part of the economic development agenda.

f. City strategies to make health care benefits available and affordable to small businesses and the self-employed.

g. Critical evaluation by the City of prospective development projects to fully understand any potential environmental and economic impact.

h. Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) guidelines that:

  • Support card check neutrality.
  • Require businesses that receive economic subsidies, including Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) funds, from the City to pay their employees a living wage, indexed to inflation, and to provide health insurance benefits.
  • Ban creation of TIF districts that do not have an indentified sufficient revenue source.
  • Use TIF to support projects that would not otherwise occur, that have clear public benefits, economic, environmental, community-enhancing, and otherwise, and that are secured through legally enforceable Community Benefit Agreements.  Developers who fail to produce these results should be required to repay the TIF subsidy with interest.
  • Are targeted to neighborhoods in need.
  • Ensure a uniform application of minimum financial feasibility criteria for funding TIF Districts
  • Give preference to proposals that expand the number of affordable housing units for low-income people.

i. A transparent and predictable development approval process that takes into account independent expert opinion (e.g., the Landmarks Commission and the Urban Design Commission) and neighborhood opinion.

j. Initiatives and programs that promote energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy by the City of Madison and its residents; including distributed renewable generation.

k. Initiatives that integrate greater amounts of locally sourced, healthy, nutritious, organic and culturally diverse food into school and other public meal programs.

l. Initiatives and programs that promote environmentally friendly technology and employment, including urban agriculture.

m. Recognition of access to healthy, nutritious and culturally appropriate food as a human right and initiatives that allow the community to exercise that right.

n. Exploration of the creation of a public municipal bank, similar to the bank of North Dakota that would be used to both house the city's assets and facilitate sustainable economic development.

o. Internet access for underserved areas of the city and net-neutrality.

7. Land Use and Environment

City policy should be used to contain urban sprawl and preserve the environment. We support:

a.  Ensuring that all land use and environment issues are viewed through an equity lens.

b. City policy that discourages urban sprawl and encourages community-oriented infill development and redevelopment.

c. Transitional zoning to encourage gradual reversal of inefficient and wasteful styles of development.

d. Zoning codes and development of infrastructures that further local sustainability, such as community gardens, edible landscapes, water catchments, urban agriculture, run-off capture and prevention, and marketing, storage, and commercial preparation of local food products.

e. Zoning codes that allow temporary land uses to facilitate creative measures to meet emergency needs.

f. Sustained attention to Madison’s water system to ensure a comprehensive long-term plan for new and existing wells, water conservation, efficient water distribution, and support for innovative techniques to save and reuse existing water.

g. Dane County’s green space plan and efforts to coordinate City policy with its goals, as well as aggressive implementation of measures for preserving shoreline and expanding public park land, and encouraging the city to use taller canopy street trees.

h. Responsible land use requirements for large retail developments.

i. Enforcement of laws regulating industrial, commercial, agricultural, and residential pollution, and reinstatement of local powers to reduce pesticide pollution. We advocate the use of only environmentally friendly pesticides by the City of Madison.

j. Strong support, adequate staffing, and funding for neighborhood planning. and stronger adherence to neighborhood planning and creation of neighborhood conservation districts.

k. Practices that avoid or reduce problems of groundwater shortages, flooding, lake contamination, and algae blooms, and that improve storm water management and reduce harmful runoff.

l.  Policies that help prepare for climate change.

m. Acquisition of land to facilitate expansion of local food processing, aggregation and promotion of production and food security.  

n.  Policies aimed at reducing and ending vehicle idling by public and private vehicles.

o.  Policies and funding to support alternative energy sources.

p.  Banning the sale of our water and making it a commodity.

8. Safe, Efficient, Accessible Transportation

We support a reduction in motor vehicle use in the City. We seek efficient public transportation that is accessible and affordable to all and believe the City should encourage use of alternative forms of transportation including bicycling, walking, car-pooling, and public transit use. Funding priorities and development policies should emphasize alternatives to driving. We support:

a.  Ensuring that all transportation issues are viewed through an equity lens.

b. A regionally integrated public transportation system, including a convenient, accessible inter-city bus station with easy connections to other forms of transport.

c. Comprehensive, efficient, fare free, 24-7 and fully accessible  transportation service  and assistance for employers to provide incentives for alternatives to driving alone.

d.  Local funding to support quality, affordable, on-demand, door-to-door paratransit services.

e. A parking stall or impervious surface fee to generate increased revenue for alternatives to driving.

f. Adoption of a complete streets policy, including adequate sidewalks on all streets. Facilities investment and engineering, law enforcement, and public policy should facilitate bicycling and walking.

g. Investments in sustainable transportation alternatives. Any vehicle owned or leased by the City should be as fuel efficient and non-polluting as practicable.

h. City policies that promote and expand affordable and accessible public transportation options to promote economic development along transportation corridors and to make jobs and commercial activities more accessible without relying on motor vehicles.

i. Local control over independent contractors offering transportation for hire.

9. Employment Rights of Employees

We support comprehensive collective bargaining and the rights of employees to join unions and to enjoy protection from discrimination as defined by law. We support:

a.  Ensuring that all employment and human resources decisions are made through an equity lens.

b. Banning of privatization or contracting out for services provided by public employees.

c. Better enforcement of provisions against discrimination and sexual harassment in the public workplace.

d. Prohibition on pre-employment drug testing of prospective City employees and on drug testing of current City employees without probable cause.

e. Improved communication concerning human resources processes and a more transparent process for discipline of non-union employees and for revision of job descriptions and positions.

f. A public process for department and division reorganizations that includes vigorous employee input in the process, including when to undertake reorganization.

g. Urging the state legislature to repeal restrictions on collective bargaining and on municipal regulations regarding bargaining with local public employee unions.

h. Increased support for undocumented workers to enforce their rights as workers.

i.  For funding sufficient to ensure that community services agencies are able to pay their workers a housing wage.  

10. Tax Justice and Local Sovereignty

We support a system of progressive local taxation based on the ability to pay and sufficient to meet local needs.  We support:

a.  Ensuring that all tax and revenue generating decisions are made through an equity lens.

b. Opposing state-imposed caps on local spending.

c. Statutory changes allowing additional revenue options for local units of government.

d.  Returning local control to advance the principles supported in our entire platform.