Madison task force reconsiders future council size

The Task Force on the Structure of City Government will keep a recommendation to council it decided on last week after it couldn’t come to a consensus on a new recommendation at its meeting Wednesday.

Last week the task force decided to recommend to council downsizing the number of alders from 20 to 10 and adding a $70,000-a-year salary for those alders. Some members not at that meeting brought up more questions Wednesday, even suggesting the task force recommend adding more alders.

“There are some things that suggest that the current size of the council is actually insufficient,” said Eric Upchurch, a member of the task force. “I understand that might be a not so popular take on things given our relationship to other cities.”

Other alders said they still supported the previous recommendation, not necessarily because it would downsize the council, but because it would make the position full-time, which they believe would bring positive change to the city.

“Another way to say ‘professionalized council’ is that you would have an opportunity for folks of color who are lower income to be full-time elected officials,” said task force member Justice Castañeda. “They would be able to engage in democratic processes and institutions in a way that would benefit their constituents and their neighborhoods in a way that has never ever happened in the history of Madison, Wisconsin.”

The recommendation for the number of alders remained a sticking point, and the task force was unable to come up with alternatives.

Madison City Attorney Michael May said that the task force’s recommendation of downsizing the number of alders by half will remain in the report.

The final recommendation is due Dec. 1.

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