Today, I filed my nominating petitions and officially became a candidate for Madison City Commissioner. I want to thank all of the individuals that took time to have a discussion with me about Madison. Over the last 3 weeks, I have met with over 100 families and businesses. Our conversations ranged from 15 minutes to sometimes over an hour in length. Many of you invited me into your homes and asked me to sit at your kitchen table to discuss the issues most important to you. I appreciate your support and your signatures on my nominating petitions. I heard many recurring themes when visiting with Madison citizens.
1. Infrastructure: You want to know and trust that your public infrastructure (streets, water, electric) is being maintained and upgraded appropriately.
2. Economic Development: You want more options for shopping, including groceries and clothing, and a revitalized downtown district.
3. Entertainment: You want more options for entertainment, including an upgraded movie theater, live music venues, and more options for children.
4. Competitive Electric, Water and Sewer Rates: You want affordable utility rates, especially since the utilities are city owned and not for profit.
5. Housing Development: You want more housing options and you want to see housing growth in the NE and NW parts of town.
We have many great things happening in Madison, SD and we will see growth over the next few years. However, I believe we should look further out and develop a strategic plan for the future. I am proposing that the City of Madison expand its current “city plan” for city infrastructure to also include economic development, community affairs, education matters, etc. This will be called the “Madison 2025 City Plan” and would cover all topics that impact Madison residents. It will be a road map to move us forward over the next 11 years. Strategic planning is critical to all sectors and must be done in order to keep moving Madison forward.
I have heard the things that are most important to you, the voter. Over the next 5 weeks I hope to visit more with all of my fellow Madison residents and I hope to earn your vote on April 8th, 2014.
-Ashley Kenneth Allen
Here is a new flyer that you can download, print, and share with your family and friends. It highlights the important details about the beginning stages of our campaign, a short biography of my life, and highlights of the campaign’s focus. Click the hyperlink below to download and print the flyer.
Allen For Madison Flyer
.PDF Format for Easy Viewing and Printing
Ask yourself these questions: How do you define economic development? Would you say that it is the creation of new jobs or new businesses? Is it retaining or expanding the existing businesses in the community? Is it investing in local infrastructure or public works? Is it redistributing public funds to private businesses?
Over the last few years, I have raised concerns about how we fund economic development initiatives in Madison. When we give away public funds to a private corporation, the only way we can truly hold that corporation accountable is by carefully monitoring said corporation. We need to expand oversight and create more transparency. I believe we should also explore “pay for performance” options as we evaluate our overall strategy for economic growth.
I applaud those who serve in public office and recognize that there are compromises and concessions that must be made when working toward the advancement of the community. I also recognize that economic development is complex and is influenced by larger economic trends. However, we as members of this community have a responsibility to keep our public officers honest and must hold any person or organization that takes public funding responsible for their/its actions. Asking tough questions and demanding fair solutions is patriotic and it just makes sense.
The city government should work to expose and eliminate any potential conflicts of interest. A conflict of interest occurs when an individual or organization is involved in multiple interests, one of which could possibly corrupt the motivation for an act in the other. The presence of a conflict of interest is independent from the execution of impropriety. Therefore, a conflict of interest can be discovered and voluntarily defused before any corruption occurs.
The city government also needs to protect itself from participating in crony capitalism. Crony capitalism is a term describing an economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between business people and government officials. It may be exhibited by favoritism in the distribution of legal permits, government grants, special tax breaks, and so forth. Self-serving friendships and family ties between businessmen and the government influence the economy and society to the extent that it can corrupt public-serving economic and political ideals, even on a local level.
If elected to the City Commission, I promise to:
1. Work to find and eliminate any conflicts of interest and crony capitalism.
2. Require thorough and complete reporting and transparency on use of funds given to any organization or corporation through our yearly city budgeting process.
3. Hold public forums, fairs, and town halls to encourage more cooperation and communication between citizens, government, and business.
If elected to the City Commission, I will work to establish a public town hall and fair to occur on an annual basis. The goal would be to showcase our local organizations, churches, city government, and businesses to the citizens of Madison. We will have a public forum to facilitate discussions between these groups and we will work to find a consensus of opinion on how we continue moving Madison forward in the 21st Century.
I want to encourage more public debate on economic development issues. We cannot be afraid to try new ideas or look at alternative options. I hope that more citizens will step forward in voicing their opinions, attend meetings, and write letters to local leaders. Let’s continue moving Madison forward by promoting open debate and lively discussion on economic topics. Most of all, register to vote, and get to the polls on April 8th.
-Ashley Kenneth Allen
I attended the City Commission meeting tonight, Monday 1-27-14, to hear the presentation from the SD Department of Transportation speak on the upcoming highway replacement program for Washington Ave. and 2nd Ave. in Madison. This project is just kicking off and construction will happen in 2015 to 2017. This is a perfect opportunity for Madison to fix much of its infrastructure that is beneath these roads. We will need to pay special attention to water, sewer, and other drainage construction. There will be some pain felt during the construction phases, but if the City of Madison plans and implements this project properly (in cooperation with the SDDOT) we will have new entry ways into businesses, churches, and homes, new sidewalks and retention walls, and most importantly, better streets that can handle our growing traffic.
I will post more documentation on this topic in the days to come.
Yes, we have some infrastructure issues in Madison. From street and water issues, to electrical issues, to occasional issues with timely snow removal. We have some oversight issues and our budget priorities may be problematic. BUT – the majority of our City of Madison workers are dedicated professionals and I know they care deeply about this town and the residents. This water treatment plant accident highlights the need for better contingency plans, backup facilities, and better oversight. We must dedicate resources to fixing our infrastructure before we experience catastrophic failures. The City Commission needs to take a more hands on approach to running this city when it comes to infrastructure. I have advocated this for 10 years and it will be the platform for my campaign for City Commission this spring. There is nothing wrong about asking questions, demanding answers, and requiring accountability. You can be proud of your town and still demand results at the same time.