City News

Rhodes-Conway elected mayor, defeats 22-year incumbent Soglin in historic election

Many races for school board and city council were dominated by women. 

Many races for school board and city council were dominated by women. 

Image By: Will Cioci

A wave of change pulsated through the isthmus on Tuesday’s election night, as the city elected its first openly gay person and second female mayor in its history as well as voted in an all-female school board. 

Mayor-elect Satya Rhodes-Conway defeated 22-year incumbent Mayor Paul Soglin 61.9 percent to 37.7 percent, raking in 47,915 of Madisonians’ votes. 

She expressed ambition and gratitude to a collection of supporters at the Prism Dance Club after declaring victory. 

“Tonight I am full of hope. Hope for young people everywhere, but especially here in Madison, that have felt left out or talked down to or bullied because of who they are,” Rhodes-Conway said. “I have felt that way once upon a time and look where I am now.”

In a short concession speech, Soglin reflected on his time in office and offered to support Rhodes-Conway’s transition into office. 

Prominent figures from around the state including Senator Tammy Baldwin congratulated Rhodes-Conway. 

“My new hometown Mayor is committed to bringing people together and making a difference in people's live,” Baldwin tweeted, “I'm excited to work with her to move our community #Forward.”

Rhodes-Conway concluded her victory remarks by asking citizens to remain active and enthused in the political process. 

“Please stay engaged with city government. We will need you to hold us accountable to those goals,” she said. “We will need you to help make Madison a city where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.”

New faces on City Council

The same sense of change and opportunity echoed with UW-Madison freshman Avra Reddy, who was elected to represent District 8 on the Madison City Council. Reddy defeated fellow UW-Madison freshman Matthew Mitnick by just over 150 votes in a tightly-contested race. 

“This campaign was never about one person—it is the start of a political movement,” Reddy said in a Facebook post. “I am extremely proud of our work throughout the campaign and the work that we are about to begin.”

Reddy will join eight new fellow alders: Patrick Heck, Lindsay Lemmer, Donna Moreland, Zachary Henak, Syed Abbas, Tag Evers, Grant Foster and Christian Albouras. 

Many council seat races came down to the wire, including incumbent District 19 Alderperson Keith Furman edging out challenger Allison Martinson by a mere 116 votes. 

In the race to replace alders Mo Cheeks and Larry Palm, Henak and Abbas emerged victorious over Kristin Johnson and Diane Farsetta, respectively. Henak defeated Johnson by garnering 55.1 percent of votes with Abbas earning 52.7 percent.  

School board to consist entirely of women

Meanwhile, three women were elected to the Madison Metropolitan School Board, making the seven person board exclusively female. 

The board has been held at maximum by six women twice, once in 1983-84 and again in 2007-08, according to research by the secretary to the board.

Ananda Mirilli defeated TJ Mertz, the only incumbent, earning 38,214 votes compared to Mertz’s 27,765. 

“Today, we pause, we’re grateful, but a lot of the work is still ahead of us,” Mirilli said in a video message. 

Seat four on the school board went to Ali Janae Muldrow who confidently defeated David Blaska by 27,745 votes. 

In the closest race for the board, Christiana Carusi edged out Kaleem Caire winning 51.9 percent of the vote compared to Caire’s 47.6 percent. 

The transition process for the newly-elected officials will begin soon. Rhodes-Conway and the new City Council will be sworn in on April 16, however Soglin and Rhodes-Conway have already begun the process, meeting this morning to bring Madison’s historic mayor quickly up to speed.

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