“Representation matters. It’s so easy to miss it if you don’t have it in your line of sight. Those are the blindspots when we talk about policymaking that we need to ensure that we’re asking those very critical questions at pivotal points,” says Faustina Bohling. ” Seeing and doing that at the committee level was very eye-opening for me.”
Bohling is a human resource professional with a strong background in diversity and inclusion who is running for District 4 Common Council seat in Sun Prairie because she says she wants to “bring all of the voices to the table” by building access and removing barriers.
Bohling, who is now the Senior Director of Human Resources at Education Analytics, spent part of her childhood in Sun Prairie and has been living there for the last six-plus years. Education Analytics is a nonprofit organization that came out of the University of Wisconsin.
“Since becoming a resident of the City of Sun Prairie, I have served our community by participating in important city committees,” Bohling said. “These are the Diversity and Inclusion Committee to build a recommendation addressing inclusion related to city services and hiring, the Personnel Committee, and the Bike subcommittee.
“The reason for getting involved in these areas is to provide the lens to the work of planning and thoughtfulness about infrastructure of who is not at the table about the decisions we are making,” she adds. “We want to make sure that we are really intentionally asking who is carrying the burden of decisions before they are actually solidified. And how are we going to mitigate that or eliminate that.”
Faustina earned a bachelor of arts degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Masters Certificate of Sustainability Leadership from Edgewood College. In addition, she completed the Leadership Institute program, which is part of the University’s Division of Learning Communities for Institutional Change & Excellence (LCICE).
Bohling is running unopposed in District 4, a seat held for many years by current alder Al Guyant. With Bohling on the Sun Prairie Common Council, there will be a majority of female alders for the first time in Sun Prairie’s history. Bohling says that there is a lot of work to be done to balance the growth the city is managing.
“Over the past 10 years, Sun Prairie has grown quite a bit. I think about that a lot. With that scale of change and growth, it’s that intentionality to that – asking really hard and needed questions,” she says. “Are we accessible to people of all economic backgrounds to not have the barriers to be able to live here? That becomes hard if it’s not managed.
“It’s really taking a step back and thinking about what is the unconscious bias – NIMBY [not in my back yard] is a real thing,” she continues. “And then, what are the presumptions we make about our neighbors or soon-to-be neighbors … and then unpacking that. All of that goes to the decisions we’re making when it comes to zoning and expenditures and access.”
A lot of these issues may cause tension in a growing city, but Bohling says that she doesn’t like to see tension as a negative thing, but as an energy.
“It’s all about what are you going to do with that energy. And I feel like we’re at this pivotal point right now where we can do some really great things,” Bohling says. “Honoring history and honoring what are the staple pieces of Sun Prairie – so we don’t lose that – is important, but also being intentional about where we want to see ourselves look like as we move towards the future.”
Bohling says she was angered by the incident at Sun Prairie middle school on Feb. 1, the first day of Black History Month, where a sixth-grade social studies lesson asked students how they would punish slaves who spoke up for themselves. The Sun Prairie School District later apologized for the incident that caught national attention.
“It’s important that we talk about and address this issue. I was very angry. There were some super people that I admire that did so much work planning for Black History Month, and for this to happen on the first day,” Bohling says. “That was so disappointing. And it totally overshadowed all of these great events.
“I think that’s a prime example when blindspots and how not having a proper perspective can be very damaging. I think it’s important for our school board to look at representation, but also to look inward and do that introspection,” she continues. “It matters for both the School Board and the Common Council and I’m hoping that they will work together on these issues.
“Ultimately, when a family arrives in Sun Prairie, their experience is holistic. We all need to work together towards this. My goal is for everybody who lives here to have a great experience. All it takes is a few people or a few incidents and it turns south quick,” Bohling adds. “Those incidents matter. I will hold myself responsible on the City Council side and am looking forward to partnership on the School Board side.”
Bohling says that as she works to improve Sun Prairie she will focus on things like community engagement, economic development, income instability, and Sun Prairie’s youth.
“As I meet with people, I’m really learning a lot about their issues. People are wanting opportunity. Housing affordability is a key issue …transportation …safety,” she says. “There are some great community leaders here who already addressing a lot of the needs in regards to food, clothing, rent assistance. Sunshine Place does an amazing job. It’s an amazing organization. Colonial Club [Senior Activity Center], too.”
Bohling and her family have strong roots in Sun Prairie.
“My mom’s side of the family is from Sun Prairie and my great-grandpa started his business here – Bohling & Sons Plumbing. They had that entrepreneurial spirit and you’ll see a lot of that in Sun Prairie,” she says. “My dad’s side – they were migrant workers from Texas.”
She was raised in the early part of her life in Sunny Hill Apartments, affordable housing in Sun Prairie.
“All of the community connections and mentors I’ve had … the community has raised me,” Bohling says. “Now, I’m in a situation where I feel like it is important to give back. In my heart, I feel like I owe my community back. It’s a way of honoring people who reached out and lifted me up.”
Through the years, Bohling has spent time plenty of time volunteering in her local community and serving on board of directors where she tries to give a voice for those who may not be at the table.
She is currently a board member at the Kennedy Heights Community Center and has recently been the board development co-chair for the Latino Professionals Association. Bohling has been a Diversity and Inclusion Committee member for the Madison Children’s Museum, a board member for Centro Hispano of Dane County, a member of the Diversity Roundtable in Madison and co-chair of the WAA Alumni Diversity Council. She has also been a board member and volunteer for Lussier Community Education Center and a board member for the Multicultural Student Center Advisory Board.
“It’s work that you got to roll up your sleeves and get in there,” Bohling says. “Sometimes it’s sleepless nights because you are worried about things, but that’s OK. That’s an energy and a tension.
“At the end of the day, we have to be working to lift up all voices and make sure that everybody is a valuable community member,” Bohling adds. “That perspective that each person brings is so powerful. It’s important that everybody has a seat at the table.”
Sun Prairie elections will take place on Tuesday, April 6. For more information about Faustina Bohling’s campaign, click here.