Tim Bruer's nearly 30-year run on the Madison Common Council came to an end Tuesday in a race that wasn't all that close.
On Wednesday, the longtime alderman admitted he couldn't compete with his opponent's campaign.
Bruer represented District 14, which is on Madison's south side. Bruer lost to challenger John Strasser in Tuesday's election.
Strasser said he pounded the pavement, knocked on doors and spent hours talking to his constituents. Something, he said, Bruer hasn't done in years.
"It got to the point where I almost felt a little guilty because I almost expected every vote after a while," said Strasser.
The political science graduate beat out Bruer by some 300 votes. Strasser said while Bruer has done things for the district, he quit communicating with the neighbors.
"You know, no matter how many buildings you might put up, a building doesn't answer a phone call," said Strasser, who lives with his husband and two dogs.
Strasser is unemployed, but he said campaigning was his job. Strasser said he wants to get started by creating a more functioning district.
"The first thing I need to do is get back in the neighborhoods, talk to the leaders, mend some fences, get everybody on the same page," Strasser said.
"It's easy to say complacency, but how do you argue with success?" asked Bruer, who was first elected in 1984.
Bruer also runs a nonprofit heating service. He argued he has turned around south Madison's most troubled neighborhoods, such as Simpson Street, which was marred by crime. And he said his influence led to Park Street's Villager Mall, which was once a vacant spot.
"We're really providing the blueprint for the rest of the city for tomorrow, today, and I feel very good about that," said Bruer, who never joined the Dane County Democratic Party.
The Dane County Democratic Party strongly backed Strasser.
Bruer said his bruised ego should heal within the week.
When Bruer picked up the last of his campaign signs, he hinted at running for re-election in two years. But mostly he wished the district he has served for so long well.
"Hopefully, the average person on the street and the small business don't lose their voice in the process because that's what's really pretty critical," Bruer said.
There are four other new Madison Common Council members who report to duty when the council reconvenes April 16.
Results for all the Madison Common Council races can be found here.