Madison’s City Council moves into the next two years amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic with Ald. Sheri Carter, District 14, and Ald. Syed Abbas, District 12, as president and vice president of the city’s legislative body after elections Tuesday.
The new leadership team replaces Alds. Shiva Bidar, District 5, and Barbara Harrington-McKinney, District 1, who have served as the president and vice president of the council for the past two years.
Carter, who spoke to her family’s history in Madison and individual integrity, said the City Council needs to be focusing on health care, the aftermath of the eviction suspension, housing and COVID-19.
“Yes, we are in a period of uncertainty because of the coronavirus. We are entering the most challenging fiscal session in recent history,” Carter said. “I am prepared, experienced and ready to lead the council forward without interruption.”
Carter was first elected in 2015 and previously served in the role of vice president from 2018-2019. She won the presidency position Tuesday over Ald. Arvina Martin, District 11, in an 11-6 vote.
For the role of vice president, the City Council elected Abbas over Ald. Keith Furman, District 19, in a 12-8 vote in a second round of balloting.
To vote, alders responded individually to emails sent out by the city clerk. Votes were anonymous.
But during the vote for vice president, Ald. Tag Evers, District 13, said he was unable to cast a ballot due to an internet problem and questioned how the clerk received 20 votes. Abbas received 11 votes during the first vote and Furman received seven.
Abbas, who was first elected in 2019, said he plans to work with “honesty and integrity.”
“We need leadership who can effectively and collaboratively work with the Common Council and bring everyone’s voices to the table,” Abbas said.
Prior to alders offering nominations, Furman proposed changing the term length of the current leadership by three months to ensure “continuity” during the pandemic.
“New council leadership is a transition,” Furman said. “A transition takes time.”
Furman’s proposal was ultimately voted down by alders.
District 8 alder
Though alders on the City Council were not up for election April 7, the District 8 seat gained a new representative.
UW-Madison student Max Prestigiacomo, 18, was the only candidate who ran to replace Sally Rohrer. Rohrer was appointed to the seat, which predominantly represents college students, when former District 8 alder Avra Reddy stepped down mid-term.
Prestigiacomo’s term ends in April 2021, which is when all City Council seats are up for re-election.
As a teenage LGBTQ+ climate activist, Prestigiacomo hopes to inspire other youth to take on leadership roles in their communities. Prestigiacomo is a Democratic Socialist and plans to “resurrect a proud District 8 tradition of being the most progressive alder at the table.”
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