Sun Prairie resident Teran Peterson, 25, declared her campaign for the District 19 seat of the Dane County Board of Supervisors last month. She is currently unopposed, as incumbent Bill Clausius is not seeking re-election and no other candidates have filed paperwork to run.
“I’m a firm believer in not criticizing if you’re not doing the work,” she said.
Peterson works as a Neighborhood Navigator in the Vandenberg neighborhood, serving as a point person for many neighborhood resources. She also co-advises the Black Student Union and co-founded the Black Excellence Achievement Makers committee and annual awards event. Peterson said she’s passionate about education.
“I was originally going to run for school board. I had been playing around with the idea. Education and youth is really where my heart’s at,” she said.
She decided on running for Dane County Board of Supervisors because she felt like she would have more of an impact. Peterson said she’s been doing a lot of listening. She’s looking to find out more about the day-to-day life of her neighbors in Sun Prairie. She said she’s excited to learn how her neighbors feel about Sun Prairie, a place she moved to five years ago. Peterson said she would like to engage with members of the community about issues surrounding education and affordable housing.
“I’ve done so much door knocking and asking people in Sun Prairie, ‘what do you love? What do you hate? And what do you want changed?’” she said.
She said she is first and foremost a parent of two children, a 13-year-old and a 16-year-old — siblings whom she adopted when their mother had a stroke — both receiving their education within the Sun Prairie School District. She said relocating from Madison to Sun Prairie was a transition for her and her children. While Peterson grew up visiting the area and have fond memories of festivals as a child, her children had a little bit more of a difficult time adjusting.
In an effort to help them, she began advocating for their education. She joined the African American Parent Network of Sun Prairie Inc. (AAPN), an organization working to ensure Sun Prairie’s African American students receive equitable, relevant, engaging and innovative learning experiences. Peterson later received an invitation to join the executive board.
“It’s interesting to watch it change and evolve. I’m so glad to be a part of it,” she said.
The members of the organization voted Peterson in as president about three in a half years ago. AAPN is now a nonprofit organization. Peterson said after a lack of trust the organization has began rebuilding bridges between African American families and Sun Prairie schools.
Building bridges is exactly what Peterson would like to do as a Dane County Board Supervisor. She said a lot of times hurdles people in the community face are overlooked because there’s no one in the room speaking on behalf of those people.
“A lot of what I do is equity driven. That’s the lens that I bring to the table,” she said.
But before Peterson can serve as a bridge she has to get to know the issues of everyone in the community. She said she realizes that if elected as board supervisor that not all of her constituents will be African American or have much in common with her, but she’s willing to offer a listening ear. Peterson said she wants to be a “sponge.”
“There’s a lot of lip service at these meetings, a lot of well-intended white people that are making decisions on behalf of African Americans and Hispanics,” she said.
However, Peterson said she respects the balance of government. She’s excited to learn more about the role. She said she will continue to listen to others and grow through criticism.
“I’m excited to do this work. I’m excited to be apart of the Dane County Board. I am excited to put the work in,” Peterson said.
The election for Dane County Board is April 7.