City News

Four candidates fall out of mayor’s race, alder resigns

Four candidates for Madison mayor dropped out of the race in the past month following the filing deadline for nomination papers.  

Image By: Jon Yoon

Nearly half of Madison’s mayoral candidates dropped out of the race in the past month, leaving five names on the ballot for next month’s primary election.

Candidates Eric Koth, Michael Flores and Brenda Konkel did not turn in their nomination papers with signatures of 200 Madison residents to the city clerk by the Jan. 2 deadline. 

Koth, a UW-Madison graduate and software developer at Epic Systems in Verona, declared for the race in December as “somewhat of a joke” in response to Madison Mayor Paul Soglin’s opposition to new alcohol licenses downtown. However, he withdrew his name from the race later in the month.

“While my campaign may be over for now, I look forward to hearing more the various perspectives of the other candidates still in the race,” he said on his website. “If we actually want to change things, the solution is not limiting places that can serve alcohol. Instead, we need to look at solutions that make the service of alcohol safer and more responsible.”

Flores, a firefighter and former Madison school board member, filed with the city clerk over the summer but announced he would pull out of the race in late November. 

Konkel, a former city council member, said her decision to withdraw was largely influenced by the Tenant Resource Center board of directors’ decision to fire her as executive director in October, a move she said came as a shock to her. She said the decision not to run was “heartbreaking,” but could not run a good campaign so soon after her firing. 

“If I run, my campaign is a bit of a mess and it won't be the campaign I would have wanted to run,” she said on Facebook two days before she dropped out of the race. “My friends on the campaign don't think I should put myself through weeks of attacks from the other candidates and others so soon after all the trauma from the [Tenant Resource Center].”

Another candidate, Toriana Pettaway, submitted her nomination papers but was told by the city clerk she did not have enough valid signatures to be put on the ballot. Pettaway, the city’s racial equity coordinator, announced on her campaign’s Facebook page she had missed the cutoff by two signatures. 

She said her campaign collected more than the required 200 signatures, but was told by the city clerk’s office some were from residents of the Town of Madison, therefore invalidating them. In an email to the Wisconsin State Journal, Pettaway called the decision “some White Supremacy BS” and vowed to remain in the race as a write-in candidate. 

Pettaway received support from fellow candidate Nick Hart, who said the clerk’s office was too understaffed to properly receive nomination papers and vowed not to participate in a mayoral forum if Pettaway was not invited. 

The five candidates who will be on the ballot for the Feb. 19 primary are Soglin, District 10 Ald. Maurice Cheeks, local comedian Nick Hart, former Ald. Satya Rhodes-Conway and River Alliance of Wisconsin Executive Director Raj Shukla. 

Adding to the tumultuous month was Ald. Amanda Hall’s resignation announcement on Dec. 21. Hall, District 3, said she was looking to move outside of her district as well as take on a different position in her career that would leave her insufficient time to do council work. She also said she felt a need to step aside to allow space for new leaders.

“In today's climate, leaders don't simply step aside and move on when it's time,” she said. “I mean, we all remember Brett Favre. And our mayor is Paul Soglin. So this is unusual.”

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