Pending confirmation by the City Council, Wehelie would replace former alder Donna Moreland who resigned in September and was later named deputy secretary for the state Department of Safety and Professional Services. District 7 includes the area northwest of Verona and McKee roads.
The City Council’s executive committee interviewed 11 candidates Oct. 30 and ultimately selected Wehelie to serve as District 7 alder until April 20, 2021. The City Council will vote on her confirmation Nov. 17.“I really look forward to making Madison a better place but also engaging my neighborhood into the mission of the city,” Wehelie said after she was selected. “I’m really inspired to be chosen, and I look forward to working with each and every one of you.”
Wehelie is starting her own consulting business called Empathy 4 Equity LLC, which aims to develop strategies for building a “culture of empathy” within organizations to better connect employees and their communities. She is also the founder of Muslim Youth of Madison and has served as the director of development and communications for Second Harvest Foodbank and as the director of development for JustDane (formerly known as Madison Area Urban Ministry).
In her application, Weheli said her interest for the position grew out of her leadership experiences, desire to improve the lives of those underserved in our community and her belief that collaboration can solve challenges facing the community.
“My background as an immigrant, black, female and Muslim prepared me to find real and equitable solutions to problems big or small,” Wehelie said. “No issues are unsurmountable as long as we are together and direct our unified resources to tackle them.”
Why did you want to serve as interim District 7 alder?
The motivation for my interest in this interim position is many folds, including my proven strategic leadership, lived experience, desire to improve the lives of those underserved in our community and be a voice to the voiceless. I have been a resident of Dane County for 32 and District 7 for 22 years. I have seen the district grow from a farm area to its current multifamily homes and established and thriving businesses. Additionally, I have served my community in leadership roles as a volunteer for several non-profit organizations in Madison. In today’s challenging climate from COVID-19 pandemic to economic distresses to social justice issues, it is clear my district and city need leadership and clear plans to overcome those challenges. I feel this opportunity is the next step for me to serve my district and my city.
What do you hope to accomplish through the end of this term?
When District 7 seat became available, I reached out to my District 7 neighborhood associations leaders. I had meaningful conversation with them about the district and came away with the realization that we are ready to work together on all salient issues facing District 7. I see myself as a leader who understands the issues at hand, listens to my constituents’ problems and advocates for them. My first priority in this interim position is to devote my time to my constituents in District 7. I will create an open and two-way communication with my constituents and relay their concerns to the council and advocate for them. In my capacity as a council member, I will work collaboratively with my colleagues at the Common Council and move forward issues such as housing, unemployment and criminal justice reform that will move the city forward. I strongly believe we can make Madison an equitable city for everyone through impactful policies.
What do you think Madison's greatest challenge is right now?
In today’s challenging climate from COVID-19 pandemic to economic distresses to social justice issues, it is clear my district and city needs a clear plan to overcome these challenges. Issues at hand in the city of Madison include affordable housing, unemployment, racial equity, transportation, education and safety. Solutions to these issues require equitable policies and executable plans. Additionally, commitment to collaborate and bring solutions to the aforementioned matters should be a priority for the city in order to uplift our community. This will help close the racial and economic gap and make Madison a vibrant and inclusive city for everyone.