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Madison City Council races build big campaign war chests
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ELECTION 2021 | MADISON CITY COUNCIL RACES

Madison City Council races build big campaign war chests

Madison City Council chambers

Madison City Council races are attracting significant campaign contributions in advance of the April 6 election.

With competitive races in 11 of 20 Madison City Council districts, some candidates are raising and spending substantial sums — perhaps breaking city records — in advance of the April 6 general election.

The latest campaign finance reports show three races, all involving incumbents, have easily attracted the most dollars from Jan. 1 through March 22.

The contest between incumbent Paul Skidmore and challenger Nikki Conklin in the 9th District on the West and Far West sides attracted the most cash from Jan. 1 through March 22. Skidmore received $20,541 and Conklin $14,882 for a total of $35,423. The candidates emerged from a Feb. 16 primary, which likely increased overall fundraising, but both amassed most of their war chests in the latest reporting period from Feb. 2 to March 22.

In the 14th District on the South Side, incumbent and current council president Sheri Carter got $9,123, but was outraised by challenger Brandi Grayson, who received $13,531 for a total of $22,654. But Grayson spent far more and Carter had more cash on hand as of two weeks before the election.

On the North Side, in the 18th District, incumbent Rebecca Kemble received $18,684 and challenger Charles Myadze got $14,704 for a total of $33,388. This race also featured a primary.

“These are three extremely high-profile, hotly contested races,” said veteran Ald. Mike Verveer, 4th District, who was elected to the council in 1995 and is running unopposed next week. “It seems to me, this breaks the record for campaign fundraising and spending.”

In 2003, developer Erik Minton raised what was then thought to be a record $18,600 in a failed bid to unseat then-Ald. Brenda Konkel in the 2nd District. And in 2017, former Ald. Maurice Cheeks raised $16,505 from Jan. 1 though the pre-election filing. Adding another $3,689, he had a total of $20,194 to spend during that time frame.

This year, several other races beyond those in the 9th, 14th and 18th districts saw healthy fundraising, but no other contest raised more than a combined $15,000 from the start of the year through March 22. The last finance reports before the election were due Monday. Transactions for the final three weeks of the campaign are due in July.

The high levels of fundraising are likely due to inflation, changes in rules for campaign contributions, and a relatively large number of very competitive races, Verveer said.

The new council will deal with daunting issues including the continuing COVID-19 pandemic; a damaged economy and tight finances; demands for racial equity and social justice; a reimagining and funding of the Madison Police Department; crime and gun violence; housing; and homelessness. It will also determine possible changes to the structure of city government, including the size and compensation of the council, and oversee redistricting based on new census numbers.

Here are the beginning cash on hand, amounts raised and spent, final cash on hand, and outstanding loans in competitive races from Jan. 1 through March 22:

DISTRICT 2

Benji Ramirez:

  • Started with $39, raised $4,811, spent $1,350.

Patrick Heck (I):

  • Started with $3,594, raised $2,506, spent $3,652.

DIST. 3

Lindsay Lemmer (I):

  • Started with $44, raised $9,255, spent $7,545, and had an outstanding loan of $4,025.

Charly Rowe:

  • Started with $0, raised $2,594, spent $2,593.

DIST. 8

Juliana Bennett:

  • Started with $2,069, raised $3,976, spent $1,934.

Ayomi Obuseh:

  • Started with none, raised $6,505, spent $3,840, and had an outstanding loan of $330.

DIST. 9

Nikki Conklin:

  • Started with $1,967, raised $14,882, spent $9,917.

Paul Skidmore (I):

  • Started with $5,297, raised $20,541, spent $15,875.

DIST. 10

Mara Eisch:

  • Started with $0, raised $3,257, spent $1,924, and had an outstanding loan of $1,629.

Yannette Figueroa Cole:

  • Started with $1,576, raised $7,267, spent $4,239, and had an outstanding loan of $900.

DIST. 12

Syed Abbas (I):

  • Started with $4,976, raised $7,606, spent $6,043.

Tessa Echeverria:

  • Started with $1,099, raised $4,783, spent $2,703.

DIST. 14

Sheri Carter (I):

  • Started with $5,412, raised $9,123, spent $2,369, and had an outstanding loan of $612.

Brandi Grayson:

  • Started with $6,100, raised $13,531, spent $13,708.

DIST. 16

Jael Currie:

  • Started with $0, raised $9,372, spent $6,276.

Matt Tramel:

  • Started with $0 raised $5,509, spent $3,657.

DIST. 18

Rebecca Kemble (I):

  • Started with $859, raised $18,684, spent $12,621, and had an outstanding loan of $1,141.

Charles Myadze:

  • Started with $590, raised $14,705, spent $8,867, and had an outstanding loan of $350.

DIST. 19

Keith Furman (I):

  • Started with $2,153, raised $3,061, spent $4,471, and had an outstanding loan of $4,619.

Aisha Moe:

  • Started with $2,053, raised $1,170, spent $2,285.

DIST. 20

Christian Albouras (I):

  • Started with $4,179, raised $8,845, spent $4,841.

Erica Lee Janisch:

  • Started with $90, raised $2,606, spent $2,140.

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