Last year, Avra Reddy worked on the 2018 midterms, helping democrats in Wisconsin sweep the ballot. After witnessing women of color like Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez win elections during midterms, Reddy was inspired to run for office.
Earlier this month, the 19-year-old freshman at the University of Washington, was elected as Madison’s 8th District alderperson, becoming the first woman to be elected to represent the district in 26 years, and the first-ever woman of color. The Progressive reported that Reddy beat Matthew Mitnick, a University of Washington student, by an unofficial tally of 887 to 735 votes.
Reddy, a student of philosophy and political science, was to sworn-in on April 16. She told ABC affiliate WKOW that “she is “really excited to: one, challenge myself to speak up for students in this district and two: just bring a new perspective.”
After the April 2 win, Reddy, on her Facebook page wrote that she ran for City Council because there was a need of a passionate student voice at the table. “Solutions to issues like affordable housing, campus safety, and sustainability to ensure we can thrive in the future cannot be discussed without all voices participating in the debate.” She continued: “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.”
The Progressive says that “Reddy’s election is one of many in recent months to feature millennial candidates, like Katherine Kerwin, a 21-year-old from Rhode Island who ran for city council last fall and won, or Ja’mal Green, a 23-year-old who ran for mayor of Chicago, or the six teens who ran for governor in Kansas, and 18-year-old Hadiya Afzal, who ran for county board in suburban Illinois.” Reddy was supported by Run For Something, a progressive organization that helps young and progressive candidates get on the ballot and hopefully win.
Reddy launched her campaign in November 2018, seeking to represent a district mostly made up of UW-Madison college students. She told The Progressive that she had four core staff members, and about 15 to 20 weekend campaigners—all unpaid — who went door-to-door talking to voters and working phone and text banks. The campaign had no official office space, working in campus cafeterias and student organization office spaces when available.
On her website, Reddy says her platform focused on the environment and safety, particularly the safety of women. She said she is working to bring greater representation on the city level by getting young people, people of color, women, and students involved in the process. She says she is passionate about increasing public safety, improving our city transportation system, and moving towards a 100 percent renewable energy city. “This campaign is about bringing people together of all backgrounds and ages. There can be no decisions about students, without students,” she said on her website, citing her reasons to run for local elections.
Reddy, who grew up in Grayslake, Illinois, moved to Wisconsin for the summer at age 16 to gain experience working on a political campaign. She told The Progressive that it was her father who helped build her interest in politics. She said they would stay up together to watch late night talk shows, and have their own political chats.
In high school, Reddy was appointed as one of two student representatives on her school board, where she served alongside the elected members. “After working through school budgets and advocating for her fellow students for two years, Reddy fell in love with politics and policy making,” The Progressive said. But it was the polarized 2016 presidential election that made her want to get more involved. “As Donald Trump started to gain traction,” she told The Progressive. “I realized that I wanted to start working on behalf of a candidate because I didn’t want him to win.”
Also elected is Pakistani-American Syed Abbas as alderman for district 12 in Madison.