As the Madison Common Council elections draw nearer, Yannette Figueroa Cole’s campaign for District 10 alder has been picking up momentum, leading with the notion that “a healthy community is a safe community.”
Figueroa Cole noted that both the pandemic and the recent resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement were the catalysts for her candidacy.
“I feel that [the pandemic] has been a very difficult time for a lot of people. A lot of people are still suffering, a lot of people have died, there’s a lot of turmoil going around us, but I also feel that COVID has given us the opportunity to better collaborate as a city,” Figueroa Cole said. “So it’s like we have been pushed to get resources together from the city, from the nonprofit organizations. from this county. from the state. We have been forced to work together for the good of the people.
“The racial issues that have always been there … 2020 finally gave it a bigger scope of what we have been saying for years. The whole world is seeing it from the same perspective, from the same view,” Figueroa Cole continued. “And I think that it has been like a collective awakening for a lot of people.”
Currently, Figueroa Cole is running on a three-issue platform: improve the health and wellness of the community, create a balanced budget for people, and work together with lawmakers at the county, city, and state level.
“In order to have a healthy community we need to ensure that the needs of our people are met,” Figueroa Cole explained. “And that means that they have food on the table, that they have a roof over their heads, that they receive the mental health services available to them. There’s no need for us to have a jail that has all these perks for people to go in there for mental health services, but in order for you to reach them, you have to get arrested first.
“When I say balanced budget, I mean a budget that has a balance on the distribution of it for services,” Figueroa Cole continued. “We need to have money to provide the services that the community needs. So all these things I’m talking about, about taking care of the people and taking care of their mental health and other services [that] are there for young kids to participate in, and all these ideas of treating extreme violence as a health issue and making sure that resources are in place … all of that takes money.”
In regards to collaboration, Figueroa Cole, if elected, hopes to work with all levels of the Wisconsin government, both local and state.
“Once you have those connections, build them and really focus on having connections with the county, with the state, with the federal and make sure that all those funds that are coming in from all those different angles make it down to the people,” Figueroa Cole explained. “I understand that there are limitations for the City that they don’t have so much money to do everything that I would like to do, but the County has money, and we are part of that County. The state has money and we’re part of the state. So I feel like the money’s there. Madison is a very wealthy community, we just need to be able to put the funds from every single bucket together and distribute them better.”
Figueroa Cole believes that to help District 10’s underserved communities, she needs “people more impacted by the problem to be sitting at the table with [her].”
“If I have a problem that I need to solve, I need those people that have already experienced the problem, I need their support to educate me on those issues,” she said.
As a Puerto Rican woman, Figueroa Cole noted that although she is not affected by the same systemic racism, she hopes to find solidarity amongst the city’s Black communities through her experiences as a Latina woman.
“I cannot relate to the African American community when it comes to the sense of my skin color, I’ll never be able to achieve that understanding, but there’s a lot of commonality there that I feel [my ethnicity] makes it easier for me to transition and to gain some of that trust and that knowledge of where we need to be,” Figueroa Cole said.
To spread awareness about her campaign, Figueroa Cole has been and will be reaching out to neighborhood organizations, participating in virtual events, and making calls to potential voters.
Figueroa Cole, like most candidates, is refraining from participating in door-to-door canvassing to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
“I’m not gonna put myself at risk over COVID, and I feel very strongly about this. This is not about me. I think I’m a healthy person, but I don’t want to be responsible for hurting somebody else,” she said.
Currently, Cole is running against Mara Eisch for the District 10 seat. Incumbent Zachary Henak will not be seeking reelection.