The much-watched five-way primary for Madison's second aldermanic district is over. The two top voter getters in last week's primary were incumbent Brenda Konkel and challenger Bridget Maniaci. And already it's being pitched as a battle for the soul of the Common Council, or at least a referendum on Konkel, to both candidates' discomfort.
"A lot of people have a lot of interest in the race, which is a good thing," says Maniaci. "That's not why I'm running. I'm just trying to be out there talking about the issues and what I want to do."
Maniaci, 25, is a Madison native and former Cieslewicz press intern. She's currently a manager at Empire Photography on Monroe Street.
Although Cieslewicz didn't recruit Maniaci, he openly sought to replace Konkel, an outspoken progressive council member seeking her fifth term. But Konkel, 40, who heads the local Tenant Resource Center, says this race is about more than that.
"I certainly acknowledge that people don't always agree with my style," she says. "But I'm proud that even those who disagree with me on style know that I am a passionate, hard-working and dedicated representative of our district's neighborhoods and needs."
Maniaci says that, if elected, her priorities would be: 1) Joining with businesses in the 800 and 900 blocks of East Johnson Street on promotional opportunities and long-term priorities, such as getting a grocery store in the neighborhood. 2) Carefully choosing infill projects to refurbish older housing stock, rather than moving to tear them down. 3) Working to solve ongoing issues of public safety and crime.
Konkel's top three list: 1) Focusing on transportation and traffic, making sure these are a consideration in land-use and development plans. 2) Making neighborhood voices heard on development projects, including the Renaissance Property Group redevelopment on the 600 block of East Johnson Street. 3) Making sure federal stimulus money is used to address the "needs of everyone in our community," through an open and transparent decision process.
The general election is April 7. Of the 20 council seats, seven are contested.