Why I Am Voting For Paul Soglin For Mayor

I was hoping months ago for much more from challenger Scott Resnick.  Madison is certainly needing an infusion of new ideas and bold plans for the future.  I wanted Resnick to be the vehicle to ramp up those discussions.   Instead Resnick played down the importance of a large and much needed development project for Judge Doyle Square.  A project that is vitally important for the city.    I was frustrated when Resnick doubled down on why his support years ago for the Edgewater was the correct decision to take.   Picking old scabs in public is never a route to take.  Once it was clear Resnick was going to use a certain tone in the race about issues of concern to me I lost interest in him.

Resnick is a very nice young man who entered a race for mayor at least four years too early.  His message never lifted up above the flatness of a race that seemed not sure how to engage the electorate.  Part of that has to do with Resnick’s style, but the other part is that much of the city is not demanding new leadership.  Voters were not adequately alerted as to why they should even consider a change in the mayors office.

I also could not abide Resnick’s lack of having stats and data that could instantly be recalled and used in discussions during the forums.  As I have noted before on this blog Paul Soglin has been in government and around politics for decades and therefore is steeped in knowledge but that does not allow for a challenger not to be equally engaged and able.   As a consequence Madison got far less of a campaign than voters deserved, or the city needed.

So that leaves me voting for Paul Soglin.

There are obviously issues I much disagree with him about such as when it comes to Overture funding or ways to better dialogue with those he has varying points of view with on the council.

But at the end of the day Soglin has a steady hand on local government and also carries with him institutional memory which I always count as a major plus for any office.

Mayor Paul Soglin Cleans Clock Of Scott Resnick In Live Television Debate


There is no doubt I love a good political debate.  But lets be honest, most political debates are rather tame and limited in the impact they make on the average voter.

But there is no way anyone watching the Madison mayoral debate Tuesday night live on WISC-TV could not have come away wondering just how much more preparation time might have been required to make challenger Scott Resnick ready for prime time.  That there have been numerous debates already this election season underscores how steep the learning curve is for one who wishes to lead this city for the first time.

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin did an old-fashioned clock-cleaning on Resnick with powerful rebuttals and a stunning use of facts and data to underscore city policy over the past four years.  Thankfully I was watching on my DVR so I could rewind and hear Soglin again tell Resnick that he could not always be in the council chambers to hold the alderman’s hand when it was time to cast a vote.

With a punchy rhythm Soglin used his pen as if to check off wrong positions from a sheet of paper that Resnick had taken as an alder.

If this had been an old Batman television show that is when the words POW and PUNCH would have filled the screenAll Resnick could so was look stunned and bewildered.  There was no way for him to recalibrate fast enough to dodge the incoming political swings from Soglin.

It was masterful on the part of the mayor to wage a debate in this fashion.  Clearly Soglin has listened enough to the misuse of information over the past weeks and decided it was time to set the record straight.  That it would result in such political theatre could not have been planned.   For that to succeed required Resnick to be shell-shocked.     He played his part perfectly.

The other part of the debate that was most effective was how Soglin made it clear the alderman had been on the council for the past four years and yet seemingly only now found his voice for the issues.  At one point Soglin made note of it directly.

“It’s interesting. Everything Scott answers is ‘It’s not enough.  But yet he’s been on the council for four years, and suddenly discovers all these issues related to equity.”

While it is true that decades of political work and policy formulation has strengthened Soglin’s hand as a candidate it also needs to be said that anyone hoping for a chance to unseat him has to do the needed homework to make it happen.  Part of that is to know the data, studies, facts, and figures inside-out so that they can not be used against you.

Resnick has failed at that part of the campaign.

When Soglin had to school Resnick in how homeless people come to be classified as calling Madison home for reporting purposes was perhaps the sharpest factual point of the evening.  Upon hearing those words there was just no place for Resnick to hide.

The outcome of this election may never have been in doubt.   After tonight it is now all about the scope of Soglin’s win.


Why Mayoral Candidate Scott Resnick Is Wrong By Signing Letter About Madison Shooting

There is no doubt that much pain and anguish has taken place in my neighborhood over the past week since the shooting of a young man by a Madison police officer.  From the moment the ambulances arrived along with a block-full of squad cars there has been one constant theme that has echoed here and around the city.  Since the 19-year-old victim was black and the officer white it simply had to be a case of racism playing out in our city like that which has struck other places such as Ferguson and New York City.

The fact is we do not yet know the full extent of the events that played out on Williamson Street that led to the shooting.  That investigation is still underway and the report is at least more than week away from being turned over to the Dane County District Attorney.   In plain language, no one can lay claim to knowing what really happened the night of the shooting.

But we do know in this city, like in far too many other places around the country there are institutional problems that result in racial disparities.  Educational opportunities and graduation rates, arrests patterns for certain types of crimes, and incarnation rates all have, most regrettably, a racial component.  We all should be able to agree on the problem, and agree to strive to address them in a forthright manner.

If that is where the matter ended we could all agree that common sense needs to win the day.  But of course that is not the end of the story.

More than 40 Madison City Council members, School Board members and Dane County Board members signed a joint statement released Friday calling Robinson’s death a “horrible tragedy.”   (And we all would agree with that description.)

“Many of the incidents, shootings and deaths that we see reported on the news find their root cause in the intolerable (racial) disparity present in our community,” they said in the letter.

It is that last line and the fact that Madison mayoral candidate Scott Resnick signed it that makes me very aware that he made a mistake that undercuts his ability to lead this city.

By adding one’s name to the letter with the sentiment about the shooting before the investigation is complete shows a lack of appreciation for the spelled out process of how the investigation is to proceed.  To strongly infer that the events in places around the nation are in any way similar to the Williamson Street shooting or that racism in the Madison Police Department played any role before all the facts are made known is simply politics at the shallow end of the pool. 

I understand that Resnick is the challenger to city hall and he is in search of traction in this campaign.  But for him to sign off on a letter that  in any way infers a racist motive to the shooting at this point is simply something that mature and reasonable voters can not abide.

One has to wonder if elected as mayor Resnick will continue to make statements based on guesses, hunches, and suspicions.  That is after all what he is doing in regards to the shooting on Williamson Street.

Paul Soglin Shows Commanding Political Skills In Mayoral Debate

Regardless of which candidate one intends to cast a ballot for in the Madison mayoral race there is no way not to be impressed with the political skills and spirit of Mayor Paul Soglin.  The mayor used his skills from many years of debating and amassing facts and figures to demonstrate Monday evening in a debate that he is not, as he said,  “old, tired, gray, and bland”.    In fact during the 90 minutes he proved quite the opposite.

Standing each time he spoke, unlike opponent Scott Resnick who remained seated for the entire forum, the mayor used the time allotted for answers in a powerful and often punchy way to show that he is fighting to win.  If one were to watch only the body language or gauge the debate by the style that the candidates used in the forum it seems correct to say Soglin surely feels he has the stronger hand come the spring election.

The mayor was able to use humor aimed at himself to make a point.  A genuine laugh from the crowd resulted from Soglin telling of his visit to Assembly Speaker Robin Vos concerning the idea of a regional transit authority.  After the meeting was over another meeting participant told Soglin he had never known Vos not to “chew someone’s head” off over that issue.   “Well, just call me Mr, Congeniality,” was the way Soglin summed up the story.

Without a doubt it was the best line of the night.

When Resnick used humor it was aimed at Soglin, and though intended to be a light-hearted comment struck some as just a bit odd in a room that was dominated by people older than himself.

When asked to provide something that each candidate respected about the other Resnick stated Soglin was his mentor and a “man of the century–last century”.   It brought a few smiles but also a sense that Resnick in trying to show why turning a new page over in government would be a good thing, also might be in need of finding a more tactful way to do so.  After all, some in the audience felt strongly Soglin still has lots of energy and ideas to carry him through four more years.

Soglin was agile while pounding on questions he wanted to make a point over including almost launching to his feet to start off a rebuttal with the stinging statement “you have to know what is happening!”    Resnick looked as if he were being tutored.

When Resnick wanted to tangle over allegations that some alderpersons have trouble getting meeting time with the mayor there was no question how it would be handled.  Soglin was not allowing his time with the microphone to be used for anything other than what best underscored his message.  Which is exactly what a skilled politician does.

With calm focused fact-filled responses Soglin proved to a packed room that even with gray hair he knows how to operate when in the arena.   And at the rate his campaign is going chances are he will be re-elected with a strong majority and stay in the arena he clearly loves.

Shout Out To Brenda Konkel For Madison Mayoral Forum Coverage

For those of us who can not attend every debate between Paul Soglin and Scott Resnick there are the cliff notes, video, and insight that comes wrapped in a nice blog package courtesy of former city alder Brenda Konkel.    This is not the first praise that Konkel gets for doing what I consider a real civic-minded undertaking, and I suspect it will not be the last.    I really value that she takes city government seriously, and wants us to take it seriously, too.

The East Side Business Association held a forum last Thursday night, February 26th, at the Brink Lounge.  Konkel attended the event and has made it possible so there is no reason for any voter not to be aware of what the candidates are saying or thinking on the issues up for discussion.

I know that Konkel wants to do this type of reporting for other forums and in so doing make it easier for voters to cast an educated vote come the Spring Election.  We owe her a thanks for sitting at these forums when the vast majority of voters seem not yet engaged in the election.

Thanks, Brenda!  We appreciate it.

Madison City Council Working At Getting High Speed Internet To Low-Income Neighborhoods

Not for the first time do I call attention to, or applaud the work of the Madison City Council when it comes to improving the ability of families living in low-income neighborhoods to have access to high-speed internet service.  We all know the importance of computers and the way they connect us to information and allow for educational pursuits.

That is why I am profoundly pleased that two capital budget amendments are awaiting action for inclusion into the final document this fall.  They are both reminders of the importance at working to improve the lives of those who live in areas where real needs exist.

First Mayor Paul Soglin is proposing to provide fiber-optic connections to community and cultural centers. The connections will allow the centers to gain access to higher speeds of broadband for community member use. Many families, in the areas where these centers are located, do not have access to high-speed broadband. This project would provide a facility, in several low income neighborhoods, where citizens could go to get access to high-speed Internet service.

Second, Scott Resnick has long been a champion of making high-speed internet connections possible for low-income areas of the city so his amendment is not a new idea, but certainly is welcome.  Resnick is the main opponent to Soglin in the upcoming mayoral election

Resnick proposes a feasibility study for a Madison Co-op internet utility  to provide wireless internet services to low income neighborhoods and families.

These are the types of measures that makes Madison part of the solution when it comes to poverty.  Both Soglin and Resnick are to be applauded for their work in this matter.  Governmental action can help to lift those who live in areas where needs exist.  I am quite certain there will be much support for both of these amendments.