Who Should Lead Madison?
With a new conservative governor openly hostile to Madison’s liberal ways, the city is entering a dangerous time. See my earlier column on the city’s economic challenges. (This one too.) Big trouble is coming.
This is why the mayoral election on April 5 is hugely important: Madison needs exceptional leadership. Here’s how I sized up the candidates for Isthmus:
When Paul Soglin is asked why he’s running for mayor once again after two earlier stints in office, he cites his love for Madison and tells an anecdote involving his wife, Sara, who encouraged him by saying “You’re happiest when you’re mayor.”
Soglin, who’s 66, will always be known as “Hizzoner da Mare” to several generations of Madisonians, and a good case can be made that he and the mayor’s office were a perfect Zen pairing. Like the bow and the arrow, “Soglin” and “mayor” were oneness in action for 14 years.
But those were different times. Whether Soglin, who was mayor from 1973 to 1979 and again from 1989 to 1997, still casts enough of a spell on Madison voters to oust incumbent Dave Cieslewicz will be decided April 5.
Cieslewicz, who wears the sobriquet “Mayor Dave” as comfortably as Soglin did “Hizzoner,” has his own claim to the city’s zeitgeist. He’s playful, philosophical, progressive and politically pushy in a way that perfectly captures Madison’s bourgie-hip liberal style.
But after eight years in office, Cieslewicz, 52, has suffered the usual dings and dents of a long incumbency, having angered some early supporters to the point that they see the old guy Soglin as a fresh opportunity.
This is quite a turn of events.
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