It is almost the end of the year and that means that candidates for Madison’s Common Council are preparing to run next Spring. Because all Common Council positions work on a two-year term, that means that all 20 seats are up for election.
Each of these seats corresponds to one of Madison’s 20 districts that are represented by alders in the Common Council. The alders work with other city officials to make sure that the voices of the residents they represent are heard.
Of the current alders, 6 have confirmed that they will not be running, 8 have filed candidacy documents and 6 have not made any announcements.
Because alders play an important part in helping shape the city, Common Council elections are a way that Madison residents can get involved in local politics.
Alder Juliana Bennett says running for office is one of many ways to get involved, and other options include supporting local NGOs, joining a city committee, or working on a local official’s campaign.
“I think that local government is one of the best ways you can give back to your community,” says Juliana “It’s one of the most rewarding things you can do, where you get to see the positive impact the decisions you are making have on the community.”
So if you are thinking about running, or know someone who might be interested, we are going to do a rundown of all you need to know about preparing for the Common Council elections.
Although the elections are not until Spring next year, there is still some work that needs to happen for candidates to run. So it is better to start getting involved sooner rather than later. This is because Madison requires candidates interested in running to fill out four documents by January third.
And to understand what those documents are, here is Riley Willman, who is an election supervisor at the Wisconsin Election Commission.
“What they are going to be required to complete by state statute is that they do have to fill out a Campaign Registration Statement. This is something that is showing their campaign and their campaign committee. This is where folks will be appointing somebody to be their treasurer. Even if folks do not plan on spending or raising any funds they still should complete the Campaign Registration Statement,” says Riley.
The second document is a Declaration of Candidacy. This document includes the candidate’s name, residential address and the office they are running for. In this case it would be the alder position.
Filling the document is not enough as it has to be notarized.
Riley explains that candidates “need to get that document notarized because you are swearing that you are eligible to take the office, you know you’re a resident of the municipality, and eligible to take the office of mayor, or alder or whatever they’re running for”
The third document candidates need to fill out is a “Statement of Interest”. This form helps the city of Madison ensure that candidates do not have any conflicts of interest that could prevent them from doing their job as an alder.
Lastly candidates have to submit and circulate “Nomination Papers”. Through this form candidates collect the signatures and addresses of people in their district. Candidates need to collect a minimum of 20 signatures from people living in the district they are running in. However, candidates are recommended to collect the maximum number of signatures, in this case 40, in case some of them are challenged, or are considered invalid.
“The important thing to note with these nomination papers is that they have a very specific window in which they can be gathered,” adds Riley. “So starting December 1st, these candidates can go out and get those signatures and ultimately those are going to be due to the municipal clerk no later than 5pm on Tuesday, January 3rd. So they have little over a month to get those signatures and filing them with the filing office”
And if you have any questions Riley encourages people to reach out.
“If they really do have questions I would really encourage folks to reach out to our office, or for folks running in the city of Madison, the city of Madison Municipal clerk’s office, or any clerk’s office in the state. They are going to be happy to be a good resource and provide the necessary information on how you can file all the documents needed in order to be placed on the ballot”
If more than two candidates for the same race successfully complete all these steps, then they’ll face off during a primary in February. The top two finishers there will move on to the spring election on April 4, when all races – even those with just one candidate – will appear on the ballot. There will also be other nonpartisan offices on that April ballot, including an important race that could decide the ideological majority for the state Supreme Court.
Reporting for W-O-R-T News, I’m Antonio Barreras Lozano.