An Indian-American student in the University of Wisconsin, won her race for the Madison City Council April 2, when the city held general elections for mayor and all 20 city council seats.
Avra Reddy, 19, originally from Chicago, says her campaign for the Madison City Council “is about giving students a seat at the table on the issues that affect them the most.” Reddy came to UWisc-Madison two years ago to work on the 2016 election. She is currently a Freshman. (Reddy had not yet responded to the request for interview as this went to press)
A true ‘politician’ as she describes herself on social media, Reddy’s commitment is evident from her April 2 voting day entry on Facebook, “Being a student running for office has unique challenges… like having to take a midterm on Election Day! You have less than two hours to go and vote.”
She defeated Matthew Mitnick, also a Freshman at UWisc. Both Reddy and Mitnick are described as “Nonpartisan” when they were running. Reddy secured more than 53 percent of the vote to Mitnick’s close to 44 percent, according to Ballotpedia.
Reddy ran “to bring representation in city government to young people, people of color, women, and anybody that agrees that Madison should work for all of us,” her election website says.
Her agenda included supporting affordable housing district wide so that students of all incomes are able to afford to live in the 8th District; supporting expanded bus schedules so people are able to get around the city late at night, free from fear of attack; supporting sustainable infrastructure in Madison and being a leader nationwide in the movement towards 100% renewable energy.
“Our campaign is built first and foremost on students coming together and working together on issues we can all agree on. It’s not about any one candidate; it’s about creating a sustainable movement to represent us,” Reddy’s site says.
The 8th District of the city that she now represents, includes 19 UWisc residence halls, and both Reddy and Mitnick believed it should be represented by someone from the university.
In a Q&A on Madison.com, Reddy noted she would be the first woman to represent her campus on the city council in the last 26 years. She pledged to hold “regular listening sessions” and said the greatest challenge facing the city and district was making sure the growth of the past decade benefits everyone, making campus living more affordable for poorer students. “I will promote equitable, pro-density housing policy to encourage affordable rents and access to mass transit, as well as support public safety initiatives, including and not least of all, support the city’s goal of 100 percent renewable energy use.
Thanking those who supported her on Facebook, Reddy said, it would not have been possible without the support of “so many people in my life and on campus …Without my campaign staff, the incredible volunteers, and my loved ones.”
“This campaign was never about one person—it is the start of a political movement. I am extremely proud of our work throughout the campaign and the work that we are about to begin,” Reddy said.
In an interview published in the Badger Herald December 11, 2018, Reddy indicates she felt nervous about the possibility of working with more experienced lawmakers and public officials. But it was a “good type of nervous” she said, equating her situation with that of New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who won an upset victory during the Democratic primaries, defeating long time Congressman Joe Crowley.
“When we’re learning about how to fix problems from people who are more experienced, then we get a sense of, ‘Okay, how can we take this and turn it into something that is our own, and make it new, and instill our new ideas into this?’” Reddy told the Badger Herald, adding, “I think that’s why young people need to be brought to the table more, because we’re not going to learn unless we’re given the opportunity to learn — because we’re not the future, we’re the present.”
She was not new to campaigning when she launched her bid. She first got engaged in national politics in 2016, working for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, and in 2018, during the midterms, again worked with Democratic candidates. Reddy and Mitnick ran in a seat held by Alderman Zach Wood who was first elected when he was a senior at UWisc, according to Badger Herald.
The political advocacy group, Runforsomething said about Reddy on its site — “After witnessing women of color like Rashida Tlaib and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez win during midterms, Avra was inspired to run for office,” and described her as a “dedicated progressive.”
Reddy, whose hashtag predictably, is “Readyforreddy” noted in her Q&A on Madison.com that her district was predominantly made up of those under 25. “My generation has seen remarkable change in how the world works as we’ve moved into adulthood, and when I talk to people about the issues they care about I feel optimistic,” said Reddy, adding, “People my age are getting involved in their communities at a remarkable pace, and I see my primary job as trying to make that impact as deep as possible.”