Stepping up onto a makeshift platform made of two coffee tables pushed together, Madison Ald. Maurice Cheeks formally launched his campaign for mayor Thursday evening.
“My name is Mo Cheeks — and I love you all,” he opened to the crowd of about 150 supporters. In the background, thunder boomed, perhaps signaling the “Mo-mentum” of change Cheeks said he hopes to bring to Madison’s future.
In outlining his main goals if elected mayor, Cheeks cited commitment to youth, creating a safe community, bolstering the economy and fighting inequality as his top priorities.
“The way we’re going to continue to find hope, prosperity and success going forward is by investing in our kids, by ensuring that we are a city that’s safe and healthy and by ensuring that prosperity is shared in our community,” he said.
Though Cheeks pointed towards the future challenges he wants to address, he said this is not something he is a stranger to. In fact, Cheeks emphasized his prior commitment to inequality and youth-based initiatives throughout his tenure on City Council.
For instance, he led in the creation of the Allied Drive neighborhood park and is making efforts to initiate a program that will open college savings accounts for all children in Madison public schools.
Other community members also came to vocalize their support for Cheeks, including former deputy mayor of public health and safety Astra Miraku Iheukumere.
“As I look at this room, I see what Maurice represents,” she said. “I see hope, future, youth and people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds.”
Iheukumere further emphasized Cheeks’ ability to create positive change in the community, describing his vision for Madison as inclusive and inspiring. “Maurice is more than capable and more than ready to lead this city,” she said.
Cheeks said support from the community is necessary in making his vision possible. And while many are disappointed with the government on the national level, he said they should also focus on and get more involved with politics at the local level.
“Make the connection between the frustration you feel on a national level with the power you have on the local level to shape your own community,” Cheeks said. “I ask you, as I run for mayor of Madison, to join me in this effort to build this city that we want to believe in.”
The mayoral election is April 2, 2019, with a primary scheduled for Feb. 19, 2019. Cheeks is one of four announced candidates, including River Alliance of Wisconsin Executive Director Raj Shukla and former Alders Satya Rhodes Conway and Brenda Konkel. Incumbent Paul Soglin is not seeking re-election.