WISCONSIN STATE JOURNAL: US Chamber Affiliate Throws $10,000 At City Council Candidates

April 1, 2013
Dean Mosiman
news photo

(Note: The Greater Madison Chamber of Comerce is an affiliate of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, which is the US Chamber of Commerce's legislative arm in Madison.)

(Originally published on March 31, 2013)

The Madison City Council will have a new look after Tuesday’s election. The big question: How new?

The council will have at least four new members with newcomers taking open seats, while 10 incumbents have opponents.

Campaigns in 11 races have attracted support, cash or both from groups from the leftist political party Progressive Dane to the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, which distributed more than $10,000 in the finance period ending March 18.

District 1

Single-term Ald. Lisa Subeck faces revenue agent Philip Sigurslid. Subeck cites a long engagement on the Southwest Side and council efforts to help neighborhoods there. Sigurslid wants options for good jobs and a standard for a living wage. In a low-spending race, Subeck raised more money.

District 2

Bryan Post, data director for the state Democratic Party, and Ledell Zellers, human resources director for the state Investment Board, want to succeed Ald. Bridget Maniaci, who didn’t run. Growth is a big issue. Zellers says the city must respect neighborhood character and focus big redevelopment on East Washington Avenue. Post says historic preservation sometimes makes it harder to grow sensibly. The race attracted the most cash with Post holding an edge boosted by $1,800 through the chamber.

District 3

Four-term Ald. Lauren Cnare faces schoolteacher Barbara Davis in a race born during a polarizing struggle over a grocery store in the Grandview Commons neighborhood. Davis and others wanted a modest grocery that fit city plans, but Cnare says the original plan was long stalled and backed a larger store that still fulfills the vision of a town center. Cnare, with $2,150 through the chamber, nearly tripled Davis’ fundraising.

District 6

Three-term Ald. Marsha Rummel faces state Department of Administration policy and budget manager Scott Thornton. Rummel touts a collaborative style and sustainable economic development along East Washington Avenue. Thornton says he’ll take stands on hard issues and liberalize city tax incremental financing (TIF) policy. He’s criticized Rummel for not securing funds to bury utility lines on Williamson Street. Rummel’s ahead in fundraising, but Thornton is close and received $950 through the chamber.

District 9

Six-term Ald. Paul Skidmore faces Ricardo Cruz, a payroll and benefits specialist at UW-Madison. Skidmore cites experience, focusing on public safety and growth demands. Cruz wants to cut city government up to 40 percent. They are each spending under $1,000.

District 12

Ald. Larry Palm, drawn out of the 15th District, faces small-business owner Leslie Peterson in a race to succeed Satya Rhodes-Conway, who isn’t seeking re-election. Peterson says she’s a proactive progressive, supporting local resolutions on housing and human rights, ordinances promoting sustainability and neighborhood plans. Palm cites his eight-year record, including support for libraries and expansion of the low-income bus pass program. Palm, with $1,100 through the chamber, nearly tripled Peterson’s fundraising.

District 13

Single-term Ald. Sue Ellingson faces Edgewood College student Zach Madden. Madden says he’ll build consensus and is concerned about the lack of low-cost housing and services. Ellingson says she informs constituents and backs housing strategies to retain young families and serve the poor. Ellingson has the fundraising edge.    

District 14

Ald. Tim Bruer, elected in 1984, faces John Strasser, unemployed with experience in marketing and sales. Strasser, contending Bruer is out of touch with constituents, wants more retail on South Park Street and to address aging infrastructure and housing. Bruer says Strasser doesn’t understand planning and redevelopment initiatives on the South Side and that he’s helped improve public safety and bring investment. Bruer, with $2,100 through the chamber, has a clear fundraising edge.

District 15

Retired UW-Madison public health researcher David Ahrens faces bar owner Hawk Sullivan in a race for an open seat. Ahrens says he has a history of local involvement and time to give and would shift the focus of development from Downtown to neighborhoods. Sullivan stresses East Side roots and business experience, and wants to protect basic services while investing in economic development. The race was second in fundraising, with Sullivan holding a modest edge.

District 17

Three-term Ald. Joe Clausius faces Edgewood College student Spencer White. White, who says he’s progressive and paints Clausius as a moderate backed by business interests, wants development with environmental protection, jobs and affordable housing. Clausius says he has experience to protect services and hold the line on taxes. He’d revise tax-incremental financing rules to lure investment and seek a county-wide approach to homelessness. Clausius has a fundraising advantage.

District 20

Single-term Ald. Matt Phair faces Kevin Wymore, an analyst for the state Department of Health Services. Phair touts efforts to improve troubled Southwest Side neighborhoods, like expansions of a library and neighborhood center. Wymore says Phair likes to tax and spend and that he would promote new businesses and grass-roots solutions. Phair had a modest advantage in fundraising.

Other districts

Newcomers Maurice Cheeks and Denise DeMarb are unopposed and will replace retiring council members in the 10th and 16th districts, respectively. Ald. Scott Resnick, 8th District, is unopposed, but a candidate who withdrew, Christian Hansen, will be on the ballot.