What may be the most diverse Madison Common Council in history was officially sworn in this afternoon, as leadership changed hands from outgoing to incoming alders.
Outgoing alder Marsha Rummel has served the east side for fourteen years. She decided not to run for reelection this cycle.
“When I was elected, the council was majority white and male, and now the incoming council is majority Black and brown and half women,” said Rummel. “This change is historic.”
Eight new alders took office. Those new alders are Regina Vidaver, Brian Benford, Juliana Bennett, Nikki Conklin, Yannette Figueroa Cole, Jael Currie, Gary Halverson, and Charles Myadze. Three of the new alders did not face a challenger in the election two weeks ago, while five did.
The other twelve incumbent alders on the Madison Common Council remained on the council. Seven of the incumbents faced a challenger.
Two outgoing alders lost their re-election bid to a challenger during the spring election two weeks ago. Paul Skidmore, one of the council’s more conservative voices, was bested by Nikki Conklin to represent Madison’s far west side on the council. And outgoing alder Rebecca Kemble, one of the council’s most progressive voices, was bested by challenger Charles Myadze to represent Madison’s north side.
Outgoing alders said goodbye to their former peers amidst hours of tribute. Then, the Council selected its new leadership.
Syed Abbas will replace Sheri Carter as council president, while alder Arvina Martin replaces Abbas as vice president. Martin pledged to make the city council more transparent and accessible.
“Keeping people engaged and figuring out what our meetings look like as we transition to this new normal will be absolutely key in helping us better serve our city,” said Alder Martin. “As vice-president my focus will be on working with president Abbas to ensure that council meeting agendas are planned to prevent late-night meetings as much as we can. The later our meetings go, the fewer eyes we have on our work, and the less likely we are to have the public available to comment on items up for consideration.”
The new Madison Common Council will meet tonight at 6:30 to consider a slate of issues, including new developments, a proposal to transfer parking enforcement duties out of the Madison Police Department, and the first Council update from new Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes.