Toriana Pettaway Is a Write-In Candidate for Mayor of Madison
Looking at Governance through an Equity Lens
Toriana Pettaway has worked for various levels of city and state
government for the past 25 years.
like when you talk about your property taxes this time of the year and you are getting your bills? How does this connect back to economic development,
transportation, affordable housing and environmental justice? How do you see these connections coming back to you. Who is paying that burden? You are. When you
get a bill in the mail, that’s your debt. But who is getting the write-off? I want you to answer that question. Who’s getting the write-off at your expense” Why?”

Pettaway was for a regional approach to mass transit.

“I know that we are looking at Mass Rapid Transit right now,” Pettaway said. “We’re actually doing a racial equity analysis right now. It’s probably going to go west
to east down our most favorite corridors right now. More than likely, it will be a city bus. I would love to have light rail. I would actually like to have a regional
approach to outlying areas like Oregon, Sun Prairie and Stoughton. I think we need a regional approach because more of our transit-dependent riders are in
neighborhood resource areas that are underserved. Having a regional approach is in addition to what our city is already trying to do. Would our Madison residents
really want a regional approach? Would our outlying areas really want a regional approach? Actually I think this would be good for business for the city and the other
communities. A lot of our current employees live outside the city of Madison. A lot of our residents who work inside the city of Madison, I can think about the cost-
benefit analysis for this to make our city thrive much better, we need to take a regional approach. I can think about travel times for our residents to get to work, to
get to appointments, for kids getting to school, all of that would make life so much easier for families to sustain better in our community. So yes, I am very supportive
of mass rapid transit, but not just from a local point of view, but I would like to see it expand to a regional basis.”

The city of Madison will be annexing large portions of the Town of Madison, which will happen primarily in the South Madison area, during the next mayoral term.
Pettaway wants the transition to go smoothly.
Part 2 of 2
By Jonathan Gramling

In listening to Toriana Pettaway, a write-in candidate for mayor of the city of Madison — perhaps it’
s because it is Black History Month — I imagine her as Fannie Lou Hammer, the Mississippi civil
rights activist. I can imagine her saying the words, ‘I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.’
Pettaway wanted to see change.

One area that she wanted to look at was property tax exemptions and how that impacts other tax
payers.

“When you look at the loopholes, those things affect us because those tax burdens come back
down to us,” Pettaway said. “The tax levies haven’t been changed. I would like for us to start
talking about the property tax exemptions. Why can’t we start talking about these things?
Commercial loopholes directly impact us. And this goes directly back to debt service. Why do
property taxes go up every year? Contracting for equity, we don’t really do that in our city. What
does that mean. Do our residents know? I want to have that conversation. What does that look
“One of the things that I think we need to really start thinking about is
how do we work more collaboratively with our school districts and
our neighborhoods to really plan more strategically for public safety, to
really meet the needs of the Town of Madison from an urban and
development point of view,” Pettaway said. “I believe we have to be
more strategic about what are the needs that we are being asked to
think about with a broader point of view as far as safety and planning
are concerned. What is the need that city hasn’t thought about as far as
safety and transitioning their police staff or emergency services staff,
things along those lines, integrating the school lines and collaborating
with the county to make sure that we have covered all of the needs for
both the residents and the visitors who come there, what the streets
look like, what the traffic patterns are going to be, all of the different
things to make sure that the transition is really nice and smooth.”

Pettaway wants to see a grassroots level approach to governance, in
essence bringing city hall to the neighborhoods.

“I will definitely have my leadership in the community,” Pettaway said.
“I want the community to see us in the community. I want the
community to see my leaders in the community. I want the community
to see them more so that they have access to my leadership and my
leadership staff. One of the things that we do right now is we talk
about all of these scenarios and we talk about the ‘what ifs,’ but I want
to make real a city without walls. And I want to make that livable in the
sense that is real. If we say that we are a city without walls, I want
that to mean something to residents. I want to be accessible. I want
people to know who I am. I want people to know who my department
heads are. I want them to know who their top leaders, managers and
supervisors are. When we say, ‘Let’s report a problem,’ well I don’t
want people to have to know how to navigate a website to find a
phone number. I want them to know that they could call or engage with
people I know and trust and they have built-in relationships. I want our
community to feel so connected to people within government that we
are informing both ways on a regular basis. I want us to get back to
real community engagement that is authentic. I want to do a different
approach than we do right now. When I say I want my leaders in the
community, that’s exactly what they are to do. If you are in public
works — not just the people who pick up the trash or fix the streets —
your boss is going to be out there too.”

As is the case with most write-in candidates, Pettaway received few
votes in the February 19th primary for mayor. But her equity lens was
an interesting view in how local government should work. It was a
unique contribution to the mix of policy proposals. And you never
know who was listening.