by Jonathan Gramling
But it’s hard to backtrack on that type of sequence of events. While running for mayor or any political office has to involve some level of ego to protect oneself from
the slings and arrows of outrageous politics, people also feel that they want a political leader with vision that doesn’t necessarily involve their own personal
interests. They want to believe that their candidate is for the greater good — in their own unique ways and philosophies — and not to assuage their own ego. With
Paul deciding to run again after anointing Satya and then losing the governorship, it left Paul too open to the feeling that his candidacy was about him. Since Paul
supported Satya, others went with her too. When I looked at the campaign finance reports of Satya, I noticed a bunch of former Paul Soglin supporters.
I hated to see Paul go down like that because — and I know that this is up for debate — the city of Madison has flourished under his tenure. He has hardly been
perfect, but he has been a good mayor who sometimes has gotten blamed for some things outside of his control. The Madison area is prospering now and I do feel
that Paul Soglin deserves some credit for that. Thank you Paul Soglin for your many years of public service. It is greatly appreciated.
And so now we move into the Satya Rhodes-Conway era in Madison. Satya was an alder for six years and so she knows how city government works. And her time
at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has allowed her to reflect on urban problems and dream about their solution. She has now been given the reins of city
government and now we will see what headway that she makes. I wish her well and hope that she has a long honeymoon period with the city council and the
One thing that I did notice about Satya’s campaign was that she didn’t appear to have very deep connections with Madison’s communities of color. Now I did see
people jump in near the end and appear in photographs during her victory party. But I haven’t seen much of Satya in the African American, Latino and other
communities of color except for the Alpha Kappa Alpha Men Who Cook competition in March. I didn’t see many names of people from Madison’s communities of
color on her list of financial contributors or supporters lists. While I am sure that Satya knows individuals of color, I would urge her to explore the complexity and
depth of these communities before she starts setting her priorities and selecting her staff, especially her deputy mayors. It’s important that Madison’s communities
of color have a listening ear in the mayor’s office — including the mayor’s — and feel that they have access to the citadels of power because their position in our
society is the most precarious and vulnerable. Our communities of color must have the confidence that they will be earnestly listened to and that policies and
decisions will not inadvertently negatively impact people of color in our community.
The Madison Metropolitan School District board continues to evolve with the election of Ananda Mirilli and Ali Muldrow who join Gloria Reyes on the board. This is
the most people of color on the MMSD school board since the early 2000s when Calvin Williams, Ray Allen, Juan José López and Shwaw Vang were on the board.
I am sure that each of the newly-elected board members will bring their own unique perspectives to school board policy so that the schools actually do become
conducive to the educational achievement of the masses of students of color in the district. As the browning of the MMSD school population continues, it is
important for all of our futures that the school board and MMSD administration are successful in responding to the challenges before them. We definitely wish them
We also have a vastly changed makeup of the Madison city council coming in a couple of weeks. There are now eight alders of color on the city council: Barbara
Harrington McKinney, District 1; Shiva Bidar, District 5; Donna Hurd Moreland, District 7, Arvina Martin, District 11; Syed Abbas, District 12; Sheri Carter, District 14;
Samba Baldeh, District 17; and Christian Albouras, District 20.
These new — and veteran — council members will bring a fresh perspective to city policies and initiatives. One could say that they represent all of Madison for they
represent districts from the far east side to the north side to the south side to the far west side. That is pretty impressive. And we wish them well.
Well the smoke has cleared from the sometimes hotly debated spring elections and it seems that the voters — with the
exception of the Wisconsin Supreme Court race — seemed to be voting for change. Two incumbent mayors, Madison Mayor
Paul Soglin and Fitchburg Mayor Jason Gonzalez were both soundly defeated.
While Gonzalez had some ethics issues that were rehashed from about 10 years ago that pretty much doomed his race,
especially in the Me Too era, he had also been severely criticized for his leadership style in handling the funding of the Boys &
Girls Club several years ago. When you are perceived to be practicing bad behavior, people don’t forget, especially when they
are the object of the bad behavior.
I think Paul Soglin pretty much doomed himself last summer when he announced that he wasn’t running for Madison mayor in
2019 because he was running for Wisconsin governor at the time. He had actually praised Satya Rhodes-Conway and in
essence, endorsed her candidacy. It was only after he lost the governor primary that he later changed his mind and decided to
run for Madison mayor once again.