Madison police officer Tyrone Cratic Williams announced he was entering the race for the 76th Assembly District in the Wisconsin State Assembly.
In an interview this week, Cratic Williams said he is running to advocate for workforce development in communities of color and youth. Cratic Williams has had a long term involvement in the Madison community, and believes there is “a lot of potential” investing in the local community.
“The Isthmus can be a standard bearer for investing in the local community to keep and maintain our talent in the state,” he said.
Cratic Williams, who was born in Chicago, moved to Madison as a teenager and has been part of aiding the community since. He got his start in community leadership through his parents, who were both teachers and mentors in and outside of the Madison Metropolitan School District.
“They’re always engaged in the community and helping people out and investing in the North and East sides and so I was naturally recruited to join,” he said. “I was raised on the North and East side, I started my journey in doing service on the North and East side all through high school and it paid off in the end because I earned a [community leaders] scholarship.”
Due to Cratic Williams’ involvement and the relationships he built in the community, he was a member of the inaugural cohort of the Community Scholars Program at Edgewood College. This full-tuition scholarship is awarded to community-minded, involved individuals from Dane County.
“The program was designed to develop service leaders through their time in college, so I was really put into positions of leadership from day one on campus and I focused on youth development,” he said. “I ended up serving over 900 hours of direct community service in Madison.”
After Cratic Williams graduated from Edgewood, he started working at Common Wealth Development Inc., an organization that “supports and preserves the vitality of neighborhoods” in Madison, according to their website. At Common Wealth, he continued to focus on youth development, affordable housing and entrepreneurship.
For more than four years, he worked directly with high schoolers on financial education, helping students from low income backgrounds gain employment skills and learn how to save money. Cratic Williams now serves on the board of directors for Common Wealth Development Inc.
With his vested interest in community development, Cratic Williams then turned to police work, a field he had an interest in since his college days.
“I saw the opportunity of being a Madison police officer because of what I can bring to the table,” he said. “I am a younger Black male who grew up and went to school in the area and I have established all of these long standing relationships over the course of several years.”
Cratic Williams has been an officer since 2014 and in that time, continued to provide financial support to the community, which eventually led to him founding Cratic Capital Development, LLC, a business that provides communities of color with financial literacy tools.
Through his business, his long term involvement in the community and his role as a police officer, Cratic Williams has seen his relationships with the residents in District 76, the district he is running to represent, evolve.
“Working Downtown, I have such a relationship with that community already,” he said. “One of my best memories of working [as an officer was the] Willy street fair.There were so many people who recognized me from the community work that I’ve done and so there’s a lot of smiles, a lot of hugs and just overall enjoyment. That’s a great confirmation of the kind of work that I’ve been doing.”
He hopes to improve workforce development by increasing access and opportunities for youth, communities of color and women who are entrepreneurs.
“I want to continue to advance and support those programs because the Isthmus stands to benefit the most because there’s so many organizations within tech, healthcare and construction where we can provide good opportunities for our youth,” he said.
Current State Rep. Chris Taylor has announced that she will not run for re-election for her seat representing District 76. If elected, Cratic Williams would be the first Black male to be elected to the State Assembly to represent Dane County. Restaurateur Francesca Hong has also declared candidacy for the seat.
Despite the slow start to his campaign run, due to the pandemic, Cratic Williams feels hopeful and ready to run.
“It’s exciting,” he said. “I had a huge outpouring of support when I announced. I am very proud that I would be the first Black male to be elected to the State Assembly out of Dane County. It’s huge to have this kind of opportunity because representation is so important from both an advocate standpoint and a mentoring standpoint.”