Twenty-year-old Ayomi Obuseh officially announced her campaign to represent the 8th Aldermanic District, which encompasses the neighborhood around the University of Wisconsin campus, on Nov. 29.
“I began my work as a youth activist and organizer when I was 15 years old at Madison West High School. I believe wholeheartedly that once we find our voice, it is our duty to use it to better our community,” she wrote on Facebook.
Obuseh and her family arrived in Madison in 2016 after living abroad in Germany. She said these experiences exposed her to different perspectives, cultures, and solutions to the world’s problems such as environmental sustainability. Obuseh moved during a pivotal year in American politics.
“I was kind of scared to move here in 2016, an election year. I didn’t know what that meant for me because I’m a daughter of immigrants,” she said in an interview last week.
This summer Obuseh participated in protests following the deaths of Breonna Taylor and Geoge Floyd at the hands of law enforcement officers. She also worked as the volunteer coordinator for Democrat Tom Palzewicz who challenged Republican Scott Fitzgerald in the 5th Congressional District race.
“I learned to speak even if your voice shakes,” Obuseh said.
She used her voice all summer as she advocated for the basic human rights of marginalized groups in Madison, specifically the BIPOC and LGBTQ+ communities. Now, Obuseh said she plans on using her voice in a new way.
“I really don’t want to wait for a black death to get something on the table,” she said.
Obuseh never imagined running her own campaign for office, however, she felt the support of her community. She doesn’t feel as if she is running alone but rather alongside her community who she describes as a diverse group of individuals who continue to fight for justice.
“Anything is possible. That is the biggest thing I’ve learned in college. I never saw this pandemic coming. I never saw an election where we’d have a woman of color win as Vice President,” she said.
Obuseh said the beauty of youth is being imaginative and thinking outside the box. If elected alder, she hopes to bring a sense of urgency for issues like affordable housing and police reform.
“When you begin your journey of seeing injustices, you can’t stop. You realize that these people in my history books are the same age,” Obuseh said.
Through her campaign, she also hopes to dialogue about the intersection of social justice and environmental justice. Obuseh said her campaign will focus on building community and engaging with residents.
“I plan on doing live streams, online fundraisers, phone banking, heavily staying in contact with the community,” she said.
The third-year University of Wisconsin-Madison student believes she is more than capable to serve as alderwoman of District 8. As a teenager, she worked as an intern for the Land and Regulation Committee and served on Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) Student Senate.
“There’s always going to be someone to tell you no but it’s like puzzle pieces. You just have to put them together. There’s always a way to get things done,” Obuseh said.
Alder Max Prestigiacomo currently represents District 8, but announced earlier this month that he would not seek re-election. UW student Julianna Bennett is also vying for the seat.