Indian American Raj Shukla enters Madison, Wisconsin, mayoral race

Raj Shukla
Raj Shukla; Photo credit:

The environmental activist, who once worked for Al Gore, currently heads River Alliance of Wisconsin.

Indian American environmental activist Raj Shukla has announced that he will run for the Madison, Wisconsin, mayor.

“I am running for mayor to lead Madison to become all we know it can be,” he said on his website announcing the candidacy. “I’ve helped businesses, nonprofits and governments move forward and live up to their ideals. I will do same for the people of Madison, WI.”

The University of Wisconsin-Madison grad is currently the executive director of River Alliance of Wisconsin, a coalition of individuals, businesses and watershed groups that works toward protecting and restoring the state’s waters. Shukla also heads the Sustainable Madison Committee — an advisory panel appointed by the mayor that is tasked with ensuring that Madison is safe, clean and healthy. He once worked for former Vice President Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project.

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Madison, the capital of Wisconsin, is the second largest city in the state — after Milwaukee — with an estimated population of more than a quarter million. The Madison Metropolitan Statistical Area, home to more than 650,000, is the 69th most populous metropolitan statistical area in the country.

According to the Political Action Committee Indian American Impact Fund, if elected, Shukla would become the first Indian American mayor of one of the 100 largest cities in the United States.

The primary will be held on February 19, 2019, and the general mayoral election is scheduled for April 2, 2019.

Madison is an overwhelmingly progressive and Democratic city. The last time a Republican won a mayoral election in the city was in 1969.

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According to the local Cap Times, which first reported Shukla’s announcement, the Indian American is the fourth Democrat to enter the race.

The current Mayor Paul Soglin, who is running for Wisconsin governor, announced on July 17 that he will not seek re-election.

The 73-year-old Democrat, who first became the mayor at the age of 27, has served as the city’s chief executive multiple times.

“I have had the pleasure of working with @Paulsoglin to advance the most aggressive climate goals in Wisconsin,” Shukla tweeted the day Soglin announced his decision. “I can’t thank him enough for his leadership and decades of service to the city of Madison.”

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He told The Cap Times that Soglin’s “absence” from the race “gives us all a little space to focus less on any personality and far more on the big issues we’re facing.”

Shukla and his wife, Tora Frank, have been residents of Madison since 2006. They have three daughters.

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