Meet the candidates vying for outgoing Madison Mayor Paul Soglin’s position

Soglin turning focus to gubernatorial election
Meet the candidates vying for outgoing Madison Mayor Paul Soglin’s position

The man who had been dubbed by some as “Madison’s Mayor for Life” is ending his local political career.

Mayor Paul Soglin, 73, was first elected to office in 1973 after three terms on the city council and has served 22 years in that position off and on since, most recently from 2011 until now.

When he wasn’t mayor, Soglin worked as an attorney and consultant, including at health care software giant, Epic.

So who might replace Soglin as Madison’s next mayor? So far, three people with local government experience have announced their candidacy: Alder Maurice Cheeks of District 10 and former city council members, Satya Rhodes-Conway and Brenda Konkel.

Meet the candidates vying for outgoing Madison Mayor Paul Soglin’s position Meet the candidates vying for outgoing Madison Mayor Paul Soglin’s position Meet the candidates vying for outgoing Madison Mayor Paul Soglin’s position

Cheeks currently represents parts of the southwest, near-west, and west sides of town. Rhodes-Conway now works as a U-W Madison think tank center on Wisconsin Strategy. Konkel serves as the executive director of the Tenant Resource Center.

Soglin calls Rhodes-Conway “far superior in every way” to the other candidates who have already announced. But others still have time to join the field: Soglin announced he won’t be seeking re-election early to give anyone looking to run for mayor adequate time to make their case before the primary election in February 2019. The mayor’s office is up for election April 2.

As for Soglin, he isn’t ready to leave politics entirely. He’s currently seeking the Democratic nomination for governor against Scott Walker. He says one of the factors in his decision not to seek re-election was to show Wisconsin voters he is committed to his gubernatorial run.

Soglin and the other Democratic contenders for governor will be on the ballot August 14 for the primary election.

Soglin has more than half a year to go as Madison’s mayor, and he says he still has a lot he hopes to get done. As he finishes out his third and final mayoral term, Soglin says his priorities will be continuing efforts to reduce violence and improve safety in the city.

The State Journal asked him whether leaving office could impact major projects like the Madison Public Market on the East Side, the downtown Judge Doyle Square development, or the revitalization of the former Oscar Mayer plant.

Soglin says if they get the “right mayor and the right leadership,” those projects should continue smoothly.

As for what Soglin hopes the next mayor will do, he cautions both the next mayor and the city council to remain focused on Madison’s debt service, which he has tried to rein in since taking office. This year, the city will spend about 16-percent of its general fund to pay back debt accrued from borrowing for capital improvements and projects.