Now that the city of Madison has survived a historical election and two months worth of aftermath, I have to breathe a sigh of a relief. We're verging on my favorite time of year...
Now, I don't expect everyone to share the diabolical pleasure I derive from local elections. There are plenty of folks who would be hard-pressed to note the last time Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson ran for office, who their school board or city council representatives are, or what the county executive even does.
But the upcoming February primary and the April general election to follow are shaping up to be pretty inetresting in the Madison area, following yesterday's deadline to declare candidacy, and I feel it's my job to help everyone to see the drama that's unfolding right out their front door.
First of all, there are several city council races that are simply going to be steeped in titillation. Foremost among them is the knock-down, drag-out death match that's unfolding to claim the second district seat on the council, which is currently held by Alder Brenda Konkel.
Konkel has no plans to go anywhere, but two lawyers, a former mayor's aide and a crazy guy have their sights set on sneaking the north half of the isthmus out from under her. The intrigue tripled when word got out that Mayor Dave Cieslewicz was actively seeking out people to run against Konkel, with whom his working relationship could best be described as "shaky." It's by far the most hotly contested race in the city, and it's all unfolding right out MY own front door.
As a second district resident, I'll be taking special interest in this race. I already spent between 20 minutes and an hour each on the phone with Konkel, Adam Walsh, Bridget Maniaci and Sherman Hackbarth this afternoon, and I'll attempt to frame up their platforms in tomorrow's blog post. I'll also be writing weekly updates on the district two race, and eventually have to decide which of these people I'm going to vote for.
I'm not sure yet if I will be publicly announcing my pick in district two, but there is one race I'm ready to make a full-fledged endorsement in. I whole-heartedly urge all the east-side residents within district 15 to vote Alder Larry Palm into a third term with the city, as I have no doubt they will.
Palm is a dedicated civil servant, an activist within his community and a man that sticks to his ideals. By contrast, his challenger Will Sandstrom, while endlessly amusing, is far too intolerant, unstable and incapable-of-maintaining-his-focus-on-a-single-line-of-discussion to properly serve his community as alder.
That's not to say it wouldn't be hilarious to have Sandstrom on the council. His farcical 2007 campaign for mayor yielded more than its share of classic moments, but I honestly don't know if I could deal with moments like this (audio clip pulled from a public discussion of changes to the city's zoning code on November 6, 2008) on a bi-weekly basis.
So I suppose, in light of that rant, it's no surprise Sandstrom has chosen to run against Alder Palm in what we can only assume is a well-meaning attempt to make Madison a more straight-friendly community. God only knows there have been plenty times in my five years as a resident I've felt persecuted as a straight white male.
And seriously, there are people who think local politics are boring?
Frankly, I'm a little disappointed by the fact that 13 alders are running for their seats unopposed, and not because I have any particular issue with the way city government is being run, but because democracy is supposed to remain in a constant state of flux. It's clear what we have in Madison isn't the "series of smaller revolutions to prevent the big one" that would be ideal, but there are plenty more local races to dig into, and I'll bring a shovel. Stay tuned.