Spring election

Voters leave the newly renovated Madison Municipal Building after casting their ballots there. Eleven of the City Council's 20 seats were contested in Tuesday's election.

The makeup of the Madison City Council shifted dramatically Tuesday night, with voters sending new members to nearly half of its seats.  

The council saw a major change in membership, with nine new faces -- none with prior experience as an elected public official -- elected to the 20-member group. Voters re-elected nine current council members in unopposed races.

There were 11 contested races, including two incumbents retaining their seats – Council President Samba Baldeh in the 17th District, and recent appointee Keith Furman in the 19th District.

"It is highly unusual to have this much turnover," said 4th District incumbent Ald. Mike Verveer, who won in an unopposed race for the Downtown district seat. "It really will be a sea change."

Tuesday’s results also delivered a big night for the grass-roots, liberal political party Progressive Dane, with its endorsed candidates capturing the mayor’s office and nine of 12 council seats in which it made an endorsement.

"We're super excited to have a progressive slate of candidates," said party co-chair Brenda Konkel, adding that the group is excited to see the candidates tackle issues like mass transit, climate change and affordable housing in the city. 

But she said the candidates have a lot to learn.

"It's going to be a lot of hard work," she said. "The learning curve is going to be steep."

The election stands in stark contrast to 2017, when there were just five contested races and 19 council members sought re-election.

When the new members take office on April 16, they'll go through an intensive orientation process to learn the council process, Verveer, the longest-serving member of the council, said. 

"It makes for interesting times," Verveer said.

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He said the biggest council turnovers he can remember in his 24 years in office was nine members in 2007 and eight members in 2013.

With the election of Satya Rhodes-Conway as mayor, Verveer said, residents can expect to see a more progressive direction in city policy. He also predicted that Rhodes-Conway and the council will have better relationships than it did with Mayor Paul Soglin. 

The dramatically different council also means city staff and officials will have to learn new personalities and how to best work with them, he said. 

Tag Evers, who beat David Hoffert for the District 13 seat that encompasses parts of Madison's Near West and South sides, said he's looking forward to working with his district's residents and leaders on city and district issues. 

"It's a very exciting night," he said. "There a lot of work to be done ... I hope to be able to effectively serve."

One of the first issues he'll tackle, he said, would be a new health clinic on South Park Street that could leave the area, which includes his district, without a grocery store while the project is built. 

Other new council members include Patrick Heck, who will represent the Downtown and Near East Side's 2nd District, Lindsay Lemmer in the 3rd District and Donna V. Hurd Moreland in District 7.

Voters elected UW-Madison student Avra Reddy to represent the campus-area 8th District, Zachary Henak in the 10th District and Syed Abbas in the East and North sides District 12.

Grant Foster in the 15th District and Christian Albouras in District 20 rounded out the new members elected Tuesday.

Voters also re-elected Barbara Harrington-McKinney, Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, Marsha Rummel, Paul Skidmore, Arvina Martin, Sheri Carter, Michael Tierney and Rebecca Kemble. 

[Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect a correction. An earlier version misstated why Madison's South Side could lose a grocery store. SSM Health Dean Medical Group is proposing to demolish the South Park Street Pick 'n Save for a new clinic, which would leave the area without a grocery store until a potential neighboring housing development with space for a new store is completed.]

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