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Mayor Dave Cieslewicz
Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz

Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz is a smart, effective and highly engaged urban official.

He proved that Monday.

An hour before the mayor announced his candidacy for a third term, he was at Lapham Elementary School, serving the holiday lunch to students, parents, teachers and administrators.

Working the lunch line may not seem like a standard political move for a mayor who is about to make one of the more important announcements of his tenure. But Cieslewicz’s strength has always been a willingness to go his own way -- and to engage at a very human level with the people of Madison.

That has served him well in his time as mayor, and it will serve him well in next spring’s election.

We have frequently disagreed with the mayor, especially regarding downtown development projects. We’ve gotten mad at him. He’s gotten mad at us.

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We have already said that we hope he faces serious competition in the February primary and April general election. And we encourage potential challengers to get in the running during this petition-circulating season.

That said, we continue to be impressed with the mayor’s flair for grass-roots engagement.

Making time at Lapham on the day of his big announcement was a nice touch. And it was in keeping with the approach he has maintained throughout his mayoralty. This is why -- for all the criticism he has taken -- Mayor Dave will be a hard man to beat.

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