The Madison Common Council is starting to contemplate who will be its next president and president pro tem, to be elected at its organizational meeting April 13. At first blush, it seems nobody wants the job.
"I think the whole Edgewater proposal may have burned a lot of people out," says Ald. Mike Verveer. "I have not heard a single colleague who has said for sure they're going to run."
While no one is clamoring for the position, some alders are clear: They want a leadership change. The posts have been held for two years' running by Ald. Tim Bruer and Ald. Mark Clear, as president and pro tem, respectively.
"I don't think the current leadership has done what it could do in terms of supporting the council and increasing communication between the mayor and the council," says Ald. Satya Rhodes-Conway. "They've allowed a lot of things to become politicized and cut alders out of the conversations instead of including them."
Bruer says he won't run again. Clear is noncommittal but says he's leaning toward running for president.
Ald. Larry Palm, who ran for president last year, says he likely won't run this year. But he too wants change. He thinks the council worked better under previous presidents.
"Yes, we used to be contentious and had more fights," he says. "But we were more active and more engaged."
Palm says too many backroom deals are going on now and not enough information is shared. "We've been insulated from the real discussions," he says. "Does it make it look like we're getting along? Sure. Does it mean we are? No."
One popular choice for president is Ald. Lauren Cnare, who is open to running. "I think I'm at a point in my career where I could be useful as a leader."
Cnare would be the first woman to hold the position since Brenda Konkel in 2004. As Verveer says, "It's been an old boys' club for the past few years."