Take a closer look at Madison mayoral candidates less than 2 weeks before the election

Take a closer look at Madison mayoral candidates less than 2 weeks before the election
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We are less than two weeks away from spring elections. There are some big races on the ballot, including the race for Madison mayor. Mayor Paul Soglin and his challenger, Satya Rhodes-Conway, have hit the campaign trail hard after advancing in February’s primary.
Rhodes-Conway trailed behind the veteran mayor by just a few hundred votes at the time.

“I think the results really show momentum for change here in Madison, and I’m excited,” Rhodes-Conway said.

Soglin and Rhodes-Conway have their own strategies in picking up additional votes left over from the primary. Rhodes-Conway has canvassed heavily on the west side where she didn’t see as many votes.

Soglin is targeting downtown and the east side where he needs more support.

“The voters in a general election are very different from the voters in a primary, and it’s our belief that the increased turnout is going to be to our advantage,” Soglin said. Take a closer look at Madison mayoral candidates less than 2 weeks before the election

Rhodes-Conway is a former three-term city alder. She now manages The Mayors Innovation Project at UW-Madison. The think tank works with mayors across the country to strategies and improve policy. She said her current role and collaborative leadership style make her stand out over the longtime mayor.

“He’s been there for 22 of the last 40 years, and it’s clear he loves this city and has served it well, but do we want status quo? Or do we want to move forward?” Rhodes-Conway asked.

Soglin toldNews 3 he is not the status quo candidate, rather the candidate to choose if voters want to see continued improvement in the city. He said in his last eight years as mayor, Madison has climbed to the top of best cities in the U.S. lists. He is especially proud of improvement in housing and racial equity.

“I would like to continue with that work. This is not easy stuff. It doesn’t come from just studying. It comes from actually having management skills and the ability to engage the private sector, and I would really like four more years to embed and finish the job,” he said.

Access to safe and affordable housing is top of mind for Madison voters and the mayoral candidates. Rhodes-Conway said she is committed to increasing housing and if elected she would consider adding a full-time housing position in the mayor’s office. She also believes in creative solutions like tiny homes and improving existing housing.

“Tiny homes might be a tiny solution for a small group of people, but it’s a solution for a group of people and helping folks with rehab of their home is another solution for a group of people,” Rhodes-Conway said. “We need to be using all of the solutions available to us because the problem is multifaceted.”

Soglin said the housing situation is in much better shape than when he found it. He said in his last eight years as mayor, he’s improved the vacancy rate from 2 percent to 3 percent. If re-elected he wants to add 12,000 new units. In order to do that, he’s looking at new ways to get help from the state and federal government and work with the private sector.

“The landlords and the developers are the ones who produce the housing. It’s critical to have a mayor who can work with that part of the community and get it done right get it done in terms of design, get it done in terms of affordability,” Soglin said.

Both candidates want a bus rapid transit system for the city, which is estimated to cost in the hundreds of millions. Both candidates said getting a regional transit authority from the state and federal assistance is the only way to cover the mammoth costs.

“We need to be applying to the federal government and putting together stronger applications than we have in the past when we’ve been turned down. We need to make sure that we really knock it out of the park with those applications,” Rhodes-Conway said.

Soglin said he is confident Madison can secure that funding.

“I believe we are going to get a chunk of that federal assistance in the next two years and I believe, while it may take up to four years for the state to give us the authority to get a regional transit authority, we will get it,” he said.

Election Day is April 2nd.

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