Mayor Paul Soglin officially announced his re-election campaign Tuesday, claiming progress on key issues like fiscal stability, poverty and equity during the past four years but saying there’s a lot more work to be done.
“I have been committed to social justice, civil rights and equal rights my entire career. Those were the issues that led me into public office,” Soglin told about two dozen family, friends and supporters at Warner Park Tuesday morning. “I will not stop pushing, doing and making change happen until we have equity in our economy, academic achievement and social justice in Madison.”
Soglin, mayor for 14 years in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, and now finishing another four-year term, also laid out priorities for another term.
“Our future is in greater employment Downtown, bus rapid transit service, a public market that creates jobs and new businesses in manufacturing and food processing, neighborhood centers that are job-training centers and business incubators,” he said.
The future is also “more neighborhood shopping districts, completion of the bicycle system, embracing President Obama’s call for immigration reform, and making sure we enhance every child’s development from birth through high school,” he said.
Soglin, 69, faces four challengers: former Dane County Sup. Richard V. Brown Sr., Christopher Daly, former Ald. Bridget Maniaci and Ald. Scott Resnick, who made campaign announcements earlier.
Resnick, Daly and Brown praised Soglin’s service but said the election is about the future.
“There is just too much at stake to keep Madison moving at the same speed and in the same direction. Madison needs a new direction,” Resnick said in a statement.
Daly said, “I look forward to building upon the achievements of the past while also making changes where changes are due.”
“There is a time and season for everything and its time for Mayor Soglin to go,” Brown said. “It’s time for Madison residents to move forward.”
Maniaci attacked, saying Soglin’s record on finances, especially borrowing, is misleading because the mayor has not used a lot of authorized borrowing, which can appear responsible, but is actually pushing critical investment in initiatives and infrastructure down the road with a high cost in the future. “There’s a lot of smoke and mirrors,” she said.
In his speech, Soglin defended his current term. On finances, Soglin said he has reduced borrowing every year and stabilized the debt, insisting on cash in hand before rebuilding the Central Library and saving the city nearly $17 million by reducing an “unnecessary” tax incremental financing (TIF) commitment for The Edgewater hotel.
Under his administration, the city launched an unprecedented summer youth program, and partnered with the private sector in an effort that will ultimately create more than 200 career jobs for adults, Soglin said. The city also is completing a disparity study to ensure greater access to public contracts for minority- and women-owned businesses.
Soglin said the city’s economy has dramatically outpaced the state’s. He said he prioritized poverty and addressed it in part by re-energizing neighborhood resource teams. And he touted moves to address homelessness and housing challenges for veterans and lower-income workers.