Madison Mayor, Common Council comment on immediate resignation of alder

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WISC-TV/Channel3000

MADISON, Wis. — Madison’s mayor and leaders of the city’s Common Council are speaking out against vandalism at a former alder’s home that led to his immediate resignation.

Gary Halverson, who had represented part of the city’s north side in the 17th district, announced late Wednesday night that he was resigning from the Common Council effective immediately due to the stress and trauma on his family caused by graffiti left outside his home.

The vandalism stemmed from reports last week that Halverson was briefly a registered member of the Oath Keepers, a far-right organization being investigated for its involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Halverson said last week he left the group after about two months after being misled about what the group stood for, saying he was led to believe the group supported veterans. He says he found graffiti outside his home after those reports, and the stress of the last week has had an effect on his wife and family, leading to his decision to resign.

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“I am unwilling to put her or my family through this any longer,” Halverson said in a statement released Wednesday night. “I am deeply saddened that our current state of politics is filled with fear and intimidation tactics. The ends do not justify ANY means.”

 

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City leaders officially announced Halverson’s resignation in a blog post on Thursday morning, thanking him for his service while also condemning the graffiti.

“Threats and vandalism are not productive or democratic ways of engaging public officials and we are very disappointed that Alder Halverson’s family is experiencing this,” Common Council President Keith Furman and Vice President Jael Currie said.

Furman and Currie said last week they were “disgusted” by Halverson’s involvement with the Oath Keepers.

“Mere seconds of online research reveal the Oath Keepers as a far-right antigovernment group, not a group for veterans or the preservation of democracy,” Furman and Currie wrote last week.

Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, who also criticized Halverson last week in a series of tweets, supported Halverson’s decision to resign, calling it the right thing for him and his family.

“Having experienced something similar myself, I understand how upset they must be by having their home targeted,” Mayor Rhodes-Conway said. “While elected officials must embrace feedback from, and disagreement with, our constituents, I do not believe that graffiti or protests at our homes are an appropriate form of engagement.”

Halverson was elected to the Common Council in April 2021, replacing former alder Samba Baldeh, who was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly. His term was set to run until late April 2023.

The seat will now be filled by the Common Council after an application process that is laid out in city ordinances and will be overseen by Common Council President Furman.

Applications will be reviewed by the Common Council’s Executive Committee and the process will include interviews of applicants before the Executive Committee makes a recommendation to the full Common Council. From there, the council will appoint someone to serve as the alder for District 17 until a new alder is elected in the 2023 spring election and sworn in on April 18, 2023.