The race for Mayor of Madison is on – and today, community leader Gloria Reyes threw her hat in the ring.
“The people of Madison are unhappy about the current state of our city,” says Reyes. “They are concerned about our future. Today, I am showing up for Madison, just as I have my entire career, to ensure that we build a city together for a future Madison for all. My name is Gloria Reyes, and I am running to be your next mayor.”
In an about ten minute speech announcing her campaign atop the steps of the City County Building, Reyes highlighted her strong ties to Madison and passion for giving back as a public official.
“50 years ago, as migrant farm workers, my parents marched on those capitol steps from Wautoma Wisconsin to support the Cesar Chavez movement to organize farm workers from across the United States,” Reyes says. “On their visit they walked up Bascom hill on our University of Wisconsin campus and saw a vision that educational achievement would bring our family out of poverty and foster generational success. My parents fell in love with Madison, and decided that Madison was a place for them to raise a family.”
Reyes is a former member of the Madison School Board, spending some of that time as the board president. Most recently, Reyes was the CEO of Briarpatch Youth Services, a nonprofit organization providing resources for runaway, homeless, and at-risk kids in Dane County. She resigned that position in July of this year.
Reyes also served as deputy mayor under former mayor Paul Soglin, and was a Madison police detective, where she started Amigos en Azul to build connections with the Latino community.
Speaking ahead of Reyes in support of her campaign was former Madison Police Chief Noble Wray, who praised Reyes for her work with youth.
“No one has her unique capabilities,” Wray says. “She started with the Madison Police Department (where) she started Amigos En Azul, Our Friends in Blue, to relate to kids. As a mayor’s assistant, she worked on violence interruption with our kids. More importantly, she walked the streets of Madison, she knows these kids, she knows what’s going on in this community.”
Other speakers also praised Reyes’ work in education, and commitment to building a better city for youth to flourish. Madison alder, and former council president Syed Abbas, who has sometimes clashed with the current mayor, touted Reyes’ leadership in youth issues.
“We cannot live in silos,” says Abbas. “If you talk about young kids in a school system, you talk about the role of the city of Madison who mentors and provides programs for young kids, talk about our community justice system, and talk about how we can together invest in our youth and the city of Madison. To do that you need a leadership who has passion, vision, and experience, and that’s what Gloria brings to the table.”
Reyes did not discuss specific policy changes she would implement in the city of Madison, nor did she take questions from the press, saying she looks forward to presenting policies in the months to come.
She did, though, outline top issues she sees facing the Madison community – like creating strong neighborhoods, revitalizing business, investing in education, creating housing and dealing with environmental challenges. Reyes also pointed to rising crime and the need to invest in public safety.
“I am concerned about our Madison today,” Reyes says. “Over the last four years, violent crime has risen. Countless times every day we get notifications about police investigating gunshots in our neighborhoods. Car thefts, burglary in the homes of our friends and family. When I see trouble, I deliver solutions, and I step up to serve.”
According to the Madison Police Department, violent crime slightly dropped in 2021.
Today’s public announcement came just after Reyes filed her declaration of candidacy with the city, and just before the launch of her campaign website, reyesformayor.com.
Today’s announcement did not directly address incumbent Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, who has not yet officially announced her re-election campaign. In a statement to WORT today, a spokesperson for the Satya for Madison campaign wrote,
“The Mayor loves her job and isn’t planning on going anywhere. She’s working on delivering a balanced budget that focuses on our city’s priorities and will have an official announcement at a more appropriate time.”
Rhodes-Conway does have an official election website, and she’s been fundraising off of recent political battles – including a quashed subpoena from Michael Gableman. The lawsuit calling for Rhodes-Conway, as well as other local officials across the state, to be jailed for not testifying behind closed doors, has since been dismissed.
Rhodes-Conway used that lawsuit in fundraising emails sent earlier this year, which helped her to raise over $20,000 by July.
The deadline for candidates to declare their candidacy for Madison Mayor is January 3. If more than two candidates enter the race, it would head to a primary election on February 21. The spring election will take place on April 4, 2023.
Photo courtesy: Nate Wegehaupt / WORT News Team