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Mayor-elect Satya Rhodes-Conway hires chief of staff, begins administration transition

Mayor-elect Satya Rhodes-Conway hires chief of staff, begins administration transition

Satya Rhodes-Conway

Mayor-elect Satya Rhodes-Conway addresses the media at the Village on Park, 2300 S. Park St., April 3.

Madison Mayor-elect Satya Rhodes-Conway began her transition from the campaign trail to the mayor’s office Wednesday following her decisive victory in Tuesday’s election.

Rhodes-Conway ousted longtime Mayor Paul Soglin with nearly 62 percent, over 18,000 votes. She now begins pulling together staff, making committee appointments and setting an agenda.

“We start now to work on our affordable housing crisis, to make our transit system even better, and to bring about rapid transit to be a reality here in Madison, to proactively deal with the impacts of climate change and to address racial disparities city,” Rhodes-Conway said at a press conference Wednesday.

In a move away from how Soglin managed the mayor’s office, Rhodes-Conway announced she will bring on Mary Bottari as her chief of staff.

Bottari joined the Center for Media and Democracy in 2009 and serves on the advisory board of Good Jobs First, a national policy resource center in economic development and smart growth. Bottari previously worked in the Wisconsin Senate for Sen. Lynn Adelman and as press secretary for U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold.

She is married to Cap Times associate editor John Nichols.

Rhodes-Conway is seeking applications for four deputy mayor positions and appointing dozens of Madison residents to serve on city committees.

“Collaboration and diversity of opinions will be hallmarks of my administration,” Rhodes-Conway said. “We have promises to keep and work to do, and I’m going to need help with that.”

Rhodes-Conway reported successfully meeting with Soglin Wednesday morning and is optimistic about the next two weeks before her swearing-in ceremony Tuesday, April 16, at noon at the City-County Building, 210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

“I’m absolutely positive we are going to have a smooth and seamless transition, and I’m very appreciative to the mayor to make that possible,” Rhodes-Conway said. “I look forward to working with him more.”

In the coming weeks, city department heads will be working with Rhodes-Conway’s transition team to bring her up to speed.

Finance Director Dave Schmiedicke said he will be communicating with the mayor-elect about develop capital and operating budgets for 2020 and monitoring and implementing the 2019 budget.

“We’ll definitely be presenting information to the new mayor and her team and getting them as much background to bring them up to speed and give them the foundation and help layout the options for them, which we do whoever the mayor is,” Schmiedicke said.

City Engineer Rob Phillips, who has been with the city since 1988, has experienced administration changes. He said transitions typically involve more staff meetings and briefings until everyone is on the same page. 

"There’s obviously a lot going on in the city of this size, and it takes time to get all that information conveyed," Phillips said. 

Phillips said he plans to brief the mayor-elect on "urgent" projects first, such as the reconstruction of Buckeye Road, or County Highway AB, and Cottage Grove Road, County Highway BB. Additionally, the city is working on major facilities projects such as the Madison Public Market and Metro Transit facilities. 

"We expect it will be a smooth transition," Phillips said.  

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