Sabrina Madison is in the race for Madison Common Council.
The founder of the Progress Center for Black Women announced on Facebook Thursday that she would seek to replace Gary Halverson, who announced his resignation late Wednesday night, nearly a week after it was revealed that he was briefly a member of the far-right organization The Oath Keepers.
Madison said she’d been considering a run for Common Council for several years. Now, with adequate full-time staffing at the Center and other things lining up, the time is right, she said.
“You have these moments where you can see clearly what you’re supposed to do,” she said of the moment she learned Halverson had resigned. “I wanted to run when I felt like it was the right time for me, and for reasons that make sense. I feel like everything is lining up, and this is the perfect time for me to do so.”
Madison has been an outspoken advocate for racial justice and empowerment for Black women, especially around issues like housing security. She said she’ll announce more specific policy positions in the future.
“These issues that I am really feeling passionate about, I want my voice to be heard, I want to be part of a process that can maybe have some real change,” she said.
She added that she brings a lot of personal experience to the table.
“I have family members who utilize the (homeless) shelter. I’ve been homeless. I have family members who’ve been incarcerated, are currently incarcerated. I have family members who are suffering from mental illness,” she said. “My dad used drugs and passed away when I was a kid from using. All these layers, I’ve experienced some of those things.”
A Milwaukee native, Madison moved to Madison in 2007 to find a better environment for her and her son.
“I felt like it was cleaner, it was safer, I felt like my son would have better options for education, I felt like we would have a better option to get stable,” she said. “Everything we’ve moved here to accomplish, we’ve been able to accomplish.”
After working at Madison College for several years, she went out on her own launch the first Black Women’s Leadership Conference in 2016 and several expo events for Black-owned businesses. She opened the Progress Center for Black Women in Fitchburg in 2018, moving it downtown to the Capitol Square in 2021.
She said she has “mad respect” for Council members who often attend late-night meetings that go into the early hours of the morning.
“It’s really not necessarily about what’s already been done or who’s done what, but more, what might be missing? What can I bring … where does my expertise and my experience fit? What value do I bring?”
Madison will first apply to be appointed by the Council to fill the vacant position and serve the remainder of the term, which runs through April 2023, at which time it’ll be up for election. The application deadline will be announced in the coming days.
Madison said whether or not she’s appointed, she intends to run for the seat in the spring election.