When thinking about the issues that Madison has confronted over the past four years the most contentious one was obviously the Edgewater construction project. While Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz championed the cause, I found the proposed development a potential eyesore. More than the size and scope of the project itself, I was frustrated how the committee process was undermined in an attempt to get the project finalized.
I made my views known in strong but reasoned tones on this blog, and considered myself open to be swayed by a challenger against Dave Cieslewicz for this year’s election. I based that desire almost exclusively over the Edgewater matter.
So it might seem strange then for me to write an endorsement for Dave Cieslewicz, and urge my fellow citizens of Madison to cast a ballot for him on April 5th.
Why the change of heart?
Let me state first of all that it has nothing to do with Paul Soglin. Madison is fortunate to have the opportunity to have two formidable thinkers and doers competing to be our mayor. Some cities do not get to have even one enlightened candidate. So no matter the outcome, Madison will be a winner.
The reason for my endorsement has to do with the nature of the job that confronts any person who sits in the Mayor’s Office, and the type of character that Dave Cieslewicz has demonstrated over the years.
My endorsement is also a reminder to myself that I need to be more mindful over the complexity of the issues that faces those who make the decisions about where we go as a city.
Last fall I witnessed concern from a neighborhood association over a major proposed street construction project. Not for the first time there was a vote from the association to delay the project. It bothered me that a small group of earnest people would think they had the sway to undo a project that impacts the transportation needs of Madison, while debating how to make the project more ‘green’.
Do not get me wrong. I applaud wise use of space and more environmentally friendly initiatives, but too often in Madison we forget there is a time to plant, and a time to sow.
We can all applaud that Madison neighborhoods have the right to weigh in on city issues, thereby insuring the places we call home represent our values. That is a sign that Madison understands good citizenship. But there comes a time when continually stopping projects, or choking off forward movement only serves to undermine this city.
It is that larger issue that I have been thinking about for months which underscores my vote for Dave Cieslewicz on April 5th.
Madison has been trying to determine the best way to move forward with some big ideas and projects. Through it all we correctly ask, “What is good growth?” and “How does the process of granting projects help or hinder the city?”
With all that in mind I thought of my sometimes blunt talk on my blog towards Mayor Cieslewicz, and the big city projects that he strives to complete. If I am frustrated with obstructionists in my neighborhood over a street project, what must it be like for the Mayor Cieslewicz to deal with a whole city of them?
In spite of my criticism, Dave Cieslewicz has remained a gentlemen, and even offered a couple nice replies to my notes over the years. I give him credit for that in this time of fever-pitched rhetoric in the political trenches.
I also applaud Dave Cieslewicz’s ‘ownership’ of the plowing/salting debate that took place in the famed winter storm several years ago that snarled Madison traffic. It is not easy to own up to mistakes, or take the responsibility when things go south. I was impressed with the mayor’s style during the fallout from that storm, and feel that it underscores what we all know about him.
Through it all “Mayor Dave” has worked hard, and made us think about the future of this great city.
As such, I am most proud to cast my vote for his relection.