| Vol 14 No. 8
April 22, 2019
Columns & Features
by Heidi M. Pascual
by Jamala Rogers
by Jonathan Gramling
This is the most difficult column that I have ever written. There are two people whom I have known
for a long time at the center of a controversy that I don’t want to write about, but I feel compelled to
write about; that if I didn’t write about it, then I should probably just give up my journalistic career.
The controversy is how the next city council president was elected last week. For the most part, the city council follows an unwritten
protocol for selecting its top leaders: the president and the vice president. The unwritten protocol is that the vice-president becomes the next
president. The alders have to vote on their leadership and there is no rule that states whom they should vote for.
Alder Sheri Carter, the sitting vice-president who is an African American woman, was first elected in 2015 and expected to be voted in as president when the new
Madison city council met on April 16th. Carter supported the re-election of Mayor Paul Soglin who was defeated in April.
Alder Shiva Bidar, an Iranian American woman, was first elected in 2009 and had served as council president one time before. Bidar decided to break protocol and run
for council president. According to Madison.com, Bidar ‘felt her experience and collaborative style would benefit a new administration and council with many fresh
faces.’ Nine of the 20 alders elected in April are new and two had been appointed to fill vacant seats within the past year. Bidar had supported Mayor Satya Rhodes-
Conway who defeated Soglin.
Alder Bidar defeated Carter on a 13-7 vote. The last time that a vice-president was not elected president was in 2016 when Alder Mo Cheeks, an African American man,
was defeated ultimately by Alder Mike Verveer after the council deadlocked when Alder Denise DeMarb wanted to serve two terms as the president and ran against
Cheeks. Carter would have been the first African American woman to serve as the council president.
As I stated before, this decision is wrought with controversy and how one feels about this controversy is more than likely influenced by which lens one is looking
through. And there are a lot of lenses through which one can look at this issue. The following are ones that I thought about or have used to perceive how I feel about
the end result. It is hardly an exhaustive list.
1) Face Value – The vote is what it is. Any alder can run for city council president and Alder Bidar felt that she was best positioned and most experienced to lead the
council as president at this time. Bidar convinced 12 of her colleagues to vote for her and she won, which is the democratic way. -- READ MORE