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Tuesday, September 30, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 50.0° F  Overcast
The Daily
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Citizen Dave: Where's the discussion of urban policy?
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Credit:Wisconsin Department of Administration

Unless you were Scott Walker, the Democratic debate on Friday night was a display of Wisconsin nice. The candidates stuck to the issues, and Walker and pretty much left each other alone.

For those who were worried that a primary would result in a big split in the party, that's not happening.

I was pleased to see that Appleton Mayor Tim Hanna got to ask a question. Hanna, a moderate Republican and a very good mayor, would make a great addition to a new governor's cabinet, maybe as DOT secretary.

But here's the thing. Even Mayor Hanna didn't ask a question about urban policy. Wisconsin is a much less rural state than the clichés would have us believe. More than one in three of us live in either the Milwaukee or Madison metro areas. If you add the many small and medium size cities in our state, like Wausau, Green Bay and Eau Claire, it turns out that almost 70% of us live in an urban area.

And yet, despite the fact that two of the four candidates represented the two largest urban areas, and one of the journalists was a Milwaukee television anchor, there were no questions about urban issues at all.

Nothing about transit funding or shared revenues or the cuts in federal Community Development Block Grant funding or the potential impact of lax gun laws in city neighborhoods, or any of a dozen other important urban issues that could have been asked about.

The same holds true in the race for president, even as one of the candidates hails from Chicago and the other mostly from Boston. It's as if cities don't exist. But according to the latest census, we are more urban than ever, with 80% of Americans living in a metro area.

And worldwide? For the first time in human history, after last year, more than half of the world's population lives in cities, and the projection is that 70% of the population will live in urban areas by 2050.

But at both the federal and state levels we're ignoring the most important issues for the places where most of us make our homes. Why is it so hard to even speak the world "urban"?

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