Eastside alder Samba Baldeh has announced his candidacy for State Assembly’s District 48.

“Going into politics six years ago, my whole idea was to be in politics to be at the table with the policies that have not historically been at the table. I believe that I have delivered the message and have been able to accomplish some of the things I set out to accomplish, so I’ve been thinking about how I can take my community service to the next level,” Baldeh tells Madison365. “We have a lot of challenges in the community and in the state. People of color, in so many cases, do not have a seat at the table. For me, this State Assembly race is about taking my community service as a servant leader to the next level.”

Baldeh, who represents Madison’s far northeast side and was elected Common Council President during his second term, is looking to follow in the footsteps of State Rep. Melissa Sargent, who has represented the 48th Assembly District for the past seven years. Sargent recently announced her candidacy for Wisconsin’s 16th Senate District.

Born in the West African nation of The Gambia, Baldeh immigrated to the United States 20 years ago and is now a software engineer and entrepreneur with two businesses.

“I grew up in Africa where even access to education was a challenge. I understand what it means to grow up poor and without resources and what it means to work hard and to be successful. I have done all of that,” Baldeh says. “Since I’ve been here, I’ve been a volunteer in the community in so many agencies that do services for people in one way or another.”

Baldeh has an extensive record of community involvement including volunteering with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County and the AIDS Network. Baldeh has held leadership roles in the local Senegambia Association and the African Association and is a member of the 100 Black Men of Madison.

In his conversations with community members, Baldeh says that he’s hearing about certain areas of concern including education, criminal justice reform, housing, climate change, economic disparities, health care access, women’s rights and elderly rights.

“The biggest issue I have heard from my constituents, but also throughout the area, is health care. It’s very expensive,” Baldeh says. “So many people can’t afford it; even if they are working. Health care is a big issue and it forces people to work until their last day on this planet. That is unacceptable in a country like the United States.”

Baldeh says that he has had a long record of reaching out to people of diverse backgrounds and opinions and bringing them together to advance an agenda.

“I understand the business world and how it works and what their needs are. I understand the community because I live and work in the community. So I know what their needs are,” Baldeh says. “I know how to talk to people. I am somebody who has been able to get things done and I believe I am the best person to represent this district which is increasingly becoming more and more diverse.”