“Representation is very important. I was first exposed to the lack of diversity while I was working in the mayor’s office and looking around at the Dane County Board of Supervisors, the Madison Common Council and the school board,” says Gloria Reyes. “We would have one or two representations of people of color in some seats – and they played a critical role – but we needed more.
“It’s not like we don’t have others who are at the table who are committed to helping our communities of color, but there’s nothing like having people who have experienced some of those challenges and who really understand the challenges of our community to be at the table when we’re making policy and budget decisions on really important areas that impact our communities of color.”
Reyes, the current Madison Metropolitan School Board President, founded Adelante at the end of 2018 to support and train candidates of color in the Madison area who have shown a prior commitment to addressing issues that impact their diverse communities. She is helping to host an event tonight – Adelante Celebration of Representation – at the home of Scott Haumersen in downtown Madison.
Adelante Celebration of Representation will be a chance to celebrate and honor elected officials representing the local communities in Madison. The guest of honor will be Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes, Wisconsin’s first African-American lieutenant governor.
“Mandela will speak for a while and I will speak about the organization – where Adelante is at and where it is going and getting others who are planning to run in 2020 ready and supported,” Reyes tells Madison365. “I already know a couple of people who are seriously thinking about running in 2020 for certain seats so it’s really important for them to feel supported and that they have the community behind them throughout this process.”
Adelante offers a full range of support including networking opportunities, training on forming a campaign committee, messaging, and the practicalities of running a successful campaign. Reyes first noticed that lack of support for candidates of color when she jumped into her school board race and found out it was a whole different world.
“I was learning on the fly. I didn’t have people who really understand the political process but believed in me and believed in the values that I would bring to the school board. The logistical stuff, however, I just didn’t have the support for. It was an intimidating process for me,” she remembers. “And we just want to eliminate that and take away the barriers so that more people will run and they know that they will be supported when they jump in.”
Historically, Madison’s Common Council and School Board, along with Dane County’s Board of Supervisors, have been predominantly white. Madison has come a long way with just a few years, but still has a long ways to go when it comes to diversity in political representation that matches the diversity of the city.
Last spring, Adelante supported many candidates that won their local elections for the first time including school board candidates Ananda Mirilli and Ali Muldrow and alders Christian Albouras, Donna Hurd, Syed Abbas and Deborah Biddle.
Reyes says that they are already to start to plan for the election cycle for 2020 and it is time to reach out to community members who are considering running for office or considering supporting campaign committees.
“This event is a great opportunity for people to come out and support our elected officials of color and donate so that we can continue to support our candidates and also train people of color to help run campaigns,” Reyes says.
Scott Haumersen, managing partner at Wegner CPAs & Consultants in Madison, is hosting the event at his home.
“Scott has been a huge supporter of Adelante and the work that we’ve done and we are grateful for him for hosting the event,” Reyes says.
Adelante has invited area elected officials of color, and are welcoming community members who are pondering elected office of those who support the work of Adelante.
“We’re celebrating the success of Adelante and the support that we were able to provide our people of color during the last election cycle in their campaigns while also preparing people of color to be trained on how to run a campaign and building capacity around the logistics of working campaigns,” Reyes says.
“It’s going to be a great chance to network, learn about what we do and to raise funds for Adelante,” she adds.
Adelante Celebration of Representation will be held Wednesday, Oct. 30, 6-8 p.m. at 538 W. Washington Ave., Apt. 601. Suggested minimum donation at the door is $20, but please do not let this keep you away. RSVP’s are appreciated at [email protected].