|Gurdip Brar has been a city of Middleton alderperson
for the past nine years and has been a
Middleton resident since 1982.
Gurdip Brar Running for Middleton
Listening to the People
Middleton community, especially in organizations and activities that his children became involved in.
“I got involved with the Middleton community in 1985 when my daughter had just started in kindergarten. I got involved at schools. I was the
chair of a program and I was on many of the city committees such as long-range planning and science and technology. When my son became
old enough to join the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, I also got involved. And when he played soccer, I was a soccer commissioner and on the
soccer board. Then I got involved with Middleton Outreach Ministry, MOM. I brought them food for well over 12 years. Then I got involved in
the Middleton Good Neighbor Festival. I was on the board of trustees and was the president. What really happened was it was the kids that got
you involved with the whole community.”
About nine years ago, Brar’s neighbors got fed up with their District 2 alderperson and asked Brar to run for office. Brar was hesitant.
“I told them that I was quite happy with myself and really didn’t want to do it,” Brar recalled. “They said, ‘Please, we do want you to do it.’
Finally I talked to my family and talked to my wife. I told them that if they wanted me to run, the minimum number of names needed was 20, but
they had to get me 80 signatures of people who really want me to run. So they had 80 signatures in just a couple of days and then I said, ‘Okay,
they are really serious about it.’ There was a primary and I got the majority of the votes, about 64 percent. In the general election, I got 74
percent. I have been contested three more times and each time, I got 70-74 percent of the vote.”
Brar has served on the city council for the past nine years and decided to run for mayor when the current mayor announced that he was
stepping down. Brar decided to run because he believes in democracy.
“When the mayor before this mayor stepped down, he bestowed his mayoralship on the current mayor who has been there for 10 years,” Brar
said. “The current mayor started to develop his succession plan with one of the persons whom he liked about 12 months ago. It was sort of
like passing on the baton. I don’t believe that the mayor should be elected by the outgoing mayor. The mayor should be elected by the citizens of
Middleton. That’s why I decided to run. The city needed someone who was going to represent them and not 1-2 developers. That was one of the
reasons as well. I have passion to represent the whole city, to bring budget change, to make a difference rather than one mayor passing on the
baton to someone else. This is a democratic society. And it’s the people who elect their mayor. And the mayor is not selected by a handful of
Brar has long believed in participatory democracy. He walks the streets of his district and talks to them about the issues they face and for their
input on decisions that the city government has to make.
“I will keep getting people involved in their government,” Brar said. “I was doing that in my own district. Now I will do it for the whole city. We
will have neighborhood meetings. We’ll have listening sessions. When we take up better roads, we’ll involve the whole city. We’ll find out
what people want and then we’ll have an elaborate process and a long-term plan. By involving people, we’ll put together a document, which
will be a lot better than just having a few people doing it. It doesn’t matter how intelligent you are. When you involve more people, you always
come up with a better product than just a few people doing it. I want to involve the whole city in the process. And there will be a lot more
vibrancy. Right now, there are very few people who want to run for the city council. I think I will mobilize people and show them what they can
do and maybe there will be a lot more involvement with the city government and there will be more people forthcoming.”
Perhaps it was the lack of participation that has led to some of the issues that Middleton currently faces. While Middleton has grown
considerable, both commercially and residentially, some of its older infrastructure has deteriorated in the process.
“If you were to drive on Gammon Road, you will see that when you drive from Madison to Middleton, you can tell the difference,” Brar said.
“‘Wow, what happened to the street?’ You can do the same thing with University Avenue and some of the other streets as well. The Middleton
streets have not been maintained. And they are really run down. I think it is about time that the city set a high priority to maintain the
infrastructure. The city doesn’t have big bridges and some of the other things. But we have to maintain the infrastructure because everyone
uses roads just about every day. And we know the length of the roads and how long they are going to last. We need to have a plan put together
for every single road for when something will be done on them. We need to set aside a certain amount of money each year, which will be used
in improving the roads.”
Brar also feels that it is important for the city to look forward 20 years or more to see how the economy will change and then devise plans to
attract cutting edge industries and businesses to Middleton.
“We have to think about what kinds of things that our children and grandchildren will be doing,” Brar said. “Can we somehow try to either
create or somehow attract those companies to Middleton so that Middleton will always be a vibrant city, vibrantly growing with not a lot of
empty stores and empty places?”
Affordable housing is also important to Gurdip. Of the approximately 18,000 jobs located in Middleton, only 2,500-3,000 of them are filled by
people who live in Middleton. The rest of the people commute.
“You want people to be able to live and work here,” Brar said. “The housing is very expensive in Middleton.”
Brar is also committed to preserving Middleton’s natural beauty.
“We have to make sure that we are making that our nature conservancy, our Pheasant Branch conservancy and our ponds and parks are
okay,” Brar said. “More and more people are using bike paths and other things and we have only so much land. You want to make sure that
your conservancy and other areas are places that people enjoy.”
While Brar is a retiree, he hasn’t retired from his commitment to community service.
“I want to say to the people of Middleton that I am running for them,” Brar said. “My passion is to serve them. I’m a people person. I will
advocate for the people. And I am here to make a difference for them.” Brar’s life speaks to the truth of that commitment.
By Jonathan Gramling
Gurdip Brar, a candidate to become Middleton’s next mayor, learned a lot of
important fundamental values growing up in Punjab, a northern India province.
“In my family, it was sort of a condition that you help those who need help,” Brar
said. “And my mother was helping someone just about every single day. It’s not like
we were rich and had lots to share, but she was so compassionate, so kind and so
caring. Those are the values that got instilled in her children at a very early age. You
help others. Her philosophy was if someone came to ask you for some help, it is
becoming of you to do whatever you can. It isn’t easy for someone to come and ask
you for help. It takes a lot of courage. She was very cognizant of that fact that if
someone is going that far and asking for help, it is your duty, your responsibility as a
human being to do whatever you can.”
After getting a degree in California where he also met his wife, Brar moved to
Middleton 35 years ago and became a senior scientist at Agracetus. And as his
children grew up, Brar continued to embrace those values and got involved in the