Madison voters get to choose between Rhodes-Conway, Soglin


Emily Dimond

Mayoral candidates Paul Soglin, left, and Satya Rhodes-Conway, right

Briant Lawler, Staff Writer

Madison residents will soon get to choose between the two survivors of Madison’s mayoral primary, current Mayor Paul Soglin and former Alderwoman Satya Rhodes-Conway. The February primary race was the most costly mayoral primary to date, with a combined $453,365 raised, up from $180,313 in 2015.

Rhodes-Conway, the city’s longest-serving executive and a facilitator for a UW-Madison think tank who would be the first openly gay mayor in city history.She announced her candidacy in May 2018.
She was an alderwoman for the city’s north and east sides, parts of the city’s east and north sides, between East Washington Avenue and North Port Drive, from 2007 to 2012. During those years, Rhodes-Conway worked with former Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and current Madison Mayor Paul Soglin.

Currently, Rhodes-Conway works for the Mayor Innovation Project at the Center on Wisconsin Strategy (which she describes as a “think-and-do tank”) as the managing director. In addition, Rhodes-Conway leads a network for current and prospective mayors, a learning organization that emphasizes teaching equity, sustainability and democratic values.

Rhodes-Conway’s priorities, as mayor, would be the climate, racial equity, housing, transportation, issues she claims her opponent has not worked hard enough on.

After a failed bid for governor, Soglin, 73, switched tracks from comments made in July 2018 that indicated he would not seek to extend his tenure as Madison mayor. Instead, in mid-October, Soglin declared he would be running for re-election. Soglin first term as Madison Mayor was in 1973 and has served multiple terms in the position since then: 1973–1979, 1989–1997 and 2011 to the present. covered their debate on March 18. The two candidates spoke about their differing styles for how to help the city.

Soglin cited his affordable housing units record as a reason he deserves another term, along with his record of bringing jobs to Madison. Soglin also spoke about his straight forward style of communication, and his focus on his constituents, knowing that he won’t be able to please everyone.

Rhodes-Conway on the other hand thinks more can be done through a collaborative style with a broader reach, that allows for more progressive ideas.

The two also spoke about the floods that hit Madison hard last summer. Soglin said the city has installed culverts to better help in areas that are susceptible to flooding.
Rhodes-Conway wants to change the way the city approaches storm water management to better deal with the rain water.

“Our historical land use decisions have led to an overabundance of paved surfaces in the watersheds of the Yahara Chain of Lakes, which means that when it rains, more water runs off into storm drains and straight into the lakes,” said Rhodes-Conway on
The election will be held on Tuesday, April 2. Polling Places will open at 7 a.m. and will close at 8 p.m.