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Madison voters oppose full-time City Council, support term limits

Madison voters oppose full-time City Council, support term limits

Virtual City Council

The Madison City Council and Dane County Board chambers at the downtown City-County Building are empty as meetings are streamed online. 

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Madison voters largely supported maintaining the status quo of local government, according to preliminary referendum results from Tuesday's spring election.

With nearly all precincts reporting, voters supported term limits for City Council alders and maintaining its 20 members. They rejected moving to a full-time council with higher-paid alders who would serve longer terms. 

The questions were prompted by an extensive study of the composition of Madison’s local government.  

The committee studying Madison's local government found “the city’s current government structure is an impediment to full participation and representation and, therefore, that the city’s structure is fundamentally unfair to a large portion of the city’s population, including, most notably, the city’s residents of color and low income,” according to the report.

Because the referendum is advisory, the changes would not have gone into effect. City policymakers will use the information collected to measure voters’ interest in pursuing possible changes. 

Voters were asked to respond to the following questions: 

Increase pay for City Council members?

Madison currently has a part‑time Common Council with members who are paid approximately thirteen‑thousand seven hundred dollars ($13,700) per year. Beginning with the 2023 Spring Election, SHOULD the City of Madison transition to a full‑time Common Council with each Common Council member earning between fifty percent (50%) to eighty percent (80%) of the Adjusted Median Income for Dane County for a single parent with two children (approximately $45,000 to $71,000 per year)? 

Yes: 41.8%

No: 58.2%

Should the council be smaller with larger districts?

Madison currently has a part-time Common Council comprised of twenty (20) alderpersons, one from each alderperson district. Beginning with the 2023 Spring Election, SHOULD the size of the City of Madison Common Council: Be reduced, be increased or remain the same?

Be reduced? 16.5%

Be increased? 13.4%

Remain the same? 70.2%

Longer terms?

Madison alderpersons are currently elected to two (2) year terms. The Madison Mayor is currently elected to four (4) year terms. Beginning with the 2023 Spring Election, SHOULD City of Madison alderpersons be elected to four (4) year terms? 

Yes: 44.5%

No: 55.5%

Twelve-year term limits?

Madison alderpersons are currently not subject to term limits. Beginning with the 2023 Spring Election, if the City transitions to a full‑time Common Council SHOULD the City of Madison alderpersons be subject to term limits of twelve (12) consecutive years? 

Yes: 70.9%

No: 29.1%

Share your opinion on this topic by sending a letter to the editor to Include your full name, hometown and phone number. Your name and town will be published. The phone number is for verification purposes only. Please keep your letter to 250 words or less.

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