Seven months after he announced he would not seek another term, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin emerged victorious in the city’s municipal primary election Tuesday, setting up a race between himself and former Ald. Satya Rhodes-Conway.
When the general election takes place on Apr. 2, Madison voters will choose between Soglin, the longest-serving mayor in city history, or Rhodes-Conway, who would be the city’s first openly gay mayor.
With all wards reporting, Soglin stood at the top of the six candidates but only slightly edged out Rhodes-Conway by 323 votes. District 10 Ald. Mo Cheeks trailed her by 1,600. River Alliance of Wisconsin Executive Director Raj Shukla came in 1,900 votes behind Cheeks. In a distant fourth was local comedian Nick Hart, who managed to shrink his 2011 campaign’s share of 1.58 percent of the vote to just one percent this year. In last was City of Madison racial equity coordinator and write-in candidate Toriana Pettaway with less than one percent.
Soglin’s victory comes after his surprising decision to enter the race in October after announcing three months earlier he would focus on his failed campaign for the Democratic nomination for governor. In his statement announcing his intention not to run, he offered Rhodes-Conway his support, calling her “eminently qualified.”
Speaking at her election party, Rhodes-Conway thanked Cheeks and Shukla, who she said had called her to offer their congratulations. In a race where her campaign was “pretty dramatically outspent,” she said her victory was proof that “people are more important than dollars,” and pledged to keep pushing the issues until the general election.
“It is clear that the people of Madison are ready for change,” she said. “This is really just the beginning. Now we have to go on to April.”
City council results
Other elections Tuesday night decided the candidates for four city council seats and three school board seats.
Lindsay Lemmer, President of the Wisconsin Chapter of the National Organization for Women, took more than half the votes in the primary for Aldermanic District 3, which was vacated by Ald. Amanda Hall who resigned her post earlier this month. Lemmer will face Michael Cerro, a program manager at telecommunications firm TEKSystems, in the general election.
In Aldermanic District 12, Eken Park Neighborhood Association Co-chair Syed Abbas will face UW-Madison School of Nursing Care Outreach Specialist Diane Farsetta. They will run to replace longtime Ald. Larry Palm, who opted not to run for re-election.
Local event organizer Tag Evers received more than half the vote in District 13, where interim Ald. Allen Arntsen decided not to seek a full term on the council. Evers will face Dudgeon-Monroe Neighborhood Association President David Hoffert for the seat in April.
In the race to replace outgoing District 15 Ald. David Ahrens, Madison Bikes Board President Grant Foster and Lake Edge Neighborhood Association President Angela Jenkins ended in a virtual tie, with Foster taking first place by four votes.
Two education advocates, Christiana Carusi and Kaleem Caire, will face off for Madison Metropolitan School Board Seat 3, though candidate Skylar Croy received just under seven percent of the vote despite dropping out of the race in January.
In the primary for school board Seat 4, Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools Co-director Ali Muldrow received more than 55 percent of the vote and will face former Dane County Supervisor David Blaska, who has based his campaign largely around a controversial proposal to increase police presence in Madison schools.
The only incumbent school board member facing a primary challenge, TJ Mertz, Seat 5, advanced to the general election, but finished 5,000 votes behind Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Education Equity Consultant Ananda Mirilli.