“What we are endorsing at this point in the process is a visionary approach that thinks big. Evers is right. Madison does need a “moon shot” sense of urgency with regard to our challenges and our possibilities.”
Madison is going to have one of its most significant elections in a long time next April 2. In addition to electing a mayor, voters will choose a new City Council. And it really will be new. Many of the ablest and most active members of the current council have chosen not to seek re-election — including Alders Ledell Zellers, 2nd District; Steve King, 7th District; Zach Wood, 8th District; Larry Palm, 12th District; Allen Arntsen, 13th District; David Ahrens, 15th District; and Matt Phair, 20th District.
In addition, Ald. Maurice Cheeks, 10th District, is a leading contender for mayor, and thus his seat is open.
What this means is that, no matter what happens in the mayoral race (which will see incumbent Paul Soglin face stiff competition from a crowded field), Madison’s city government will in short order have a new look.
The question, of course, is whether this new look will be accompanied by new approaches, as visionary council members alter the focuses and agendas of the city. We hope it does.
This is not a criticism of the current leadership. Thanks to Soglin and the current council, Madison remains a well-run and livable city that has far more to recommend it than most communities of its size. Yet Madison faces serious challenges that must be recognized and addressed if the city is going to continue to top the national lists that compare urban areas and — far more importantly — to realize the progressive promise of inclusivity and equity for all.
As the period for candidates to petition their way onto the ballot for the Feb. 19 primary and the April general election proceeds toward the Jan. 2 filing deadline, we are impressed with many of the contenders who have stepped up to run. As an example, we really like what we hear from Tag Evers, a contender for the open 13th District seat representing near west side neighborhoods and those to the south of downtown.
Evers, a music promoter and longtime community activist, recalls the enthusiasm and energy of former President John F. Kennedy’s “put-a-man-on-the-moon” promise, telling voters in his district and citywide that “this is Madison’s moon shot moment.”
On his campaign website, Evers reminds us:
“Madison is at a crossroads. By 2040, if current estimates prove correct, Madison will become home to 70,000 additional residents. This raises important concerns:
“• Will only the wealthy be able to live on the isthmus? We have a housing crisis in Madison and if we don’t fix it we will end up like San Francisco.
“• Traffic congestion will get much worse. If we don’t fix it, we’ll end up like Austin, TX. …
“• Madison is a tale of two cities. Will our equity issues continue to hold us back or will we move forward, not just with more talk, but real action?”
Evers concludes: “I believe we need a ‘moon shot’ sense of urgency, a commitment to what Martin Luther King Jr. referred to as ‘the fierce urgency of now.’”
That’s the spirit!
Evers will face opposition in the 13th, and we look forward to hearing what his rivals have to say. We also look forward to hearing what candidates in other districts have to say about the issues facing the city and the issues that will face the city in the future. We’re not making endorsements of individuals just yet. In fact, we hope that more candidates will step up in these final weeks before the filing deadline. It’s easy to run: A minimum of 20 and a maximum of 40 signatures are required to gain a place on the ballot.
What we are endorsing at this point in the process is a visionary approach that thinks big. Evers is right. Madison does need a “moon shot” sense of urgency with regard to our challenges and our possibilities.