Each week, Isthmus will send the mayoral candidates a question and post their responses online. We started this week with something simple: We asked Mayor Dave Cieslewicz which of his three challengers is the biggest threat. And we asked each challenger -- Ray Allen, Peter Muñoz and Will Sandstrom -- why they think they can beat the incumbent.
Their responses follow below.
The Daily Page: Who do you think is your most serious challenger and why?
Although Ray Allen and Peter Muñoz will both make strong appeals to conservative voters, Allen has a track record of electability, having won two citywide elections for school board. As a member of the Dane County Republican establishment, he has a lengthy organizational head start over Muñoz, who got in the race very late.
The Daily Page: Are you running to win and, if so, why do you think this is possible?
First, let me thank Isthmus for the opportunity to talk about the very real issues facing Madison. This election will be about who has the better vision for Madison. I'm running because I have a vision for Madison that comes from my nine years on the Madison school board and my community involvement.
As mayor, my focus will be on crime and poverty because I believe if we want to fight crime in the long run, we have to fight poverty now.
Unfortunately, city hall is focused on trolleys, which have been reported to cost between $15 million and $25 million per mile. I see this as a waste. To put this in perspective, the cost of one mile of trolley tracks is enough to make affordable housing a reality in Madison, or enough to pay for the replacement of all the wells that have elevated manganese levels.
The cost of one mile of trolley track can go a long way toward fighting crime and reducing poverty.
Madison realizes that city hall is out of touch and stubbornly clings to misplaced priorities. My vision, which differs drastically from the status quo of city hall, is why we'll win in April.
Because I'm the only candidate who has wisdom from experience and adversity. It's absolutely essential if we're going to save this country that I get elected mayor. I'm not an egotist. I've been in Russia, I've been all over Europe. This country doesn't have a person in politics who knows as much as I do in so many areas. America needs a politician who knows something, who has wisdom. We don't have that right now. We have a president who is the Ken Lay of the U.S. government, who allowed in the Defense Dept. a crook, a thief who stole taxpayers' money.
There's only a small chance I'll get elected, but somebody has to start speaking out. Like Thomas Paine or Benjamin Franklin. We don't have anyone like that now. Voters in Madison can take a chance on Will.
The mayor we've got right now is a crook. He's allowed the water bill to go up. Look at parking tickets -- look at what the fee is. There are these hidden fees. So he's a crook. I wouldn't allow that. He's stealing from the pockets in ways that people aren't aware of. He's a terrible mayor, a disaster. There's no hope for him. We need someone who's got wisdom.
Absolutely, I am running to win. Winning is possible because Madisonians are discontent with the direction the current administration is leading our magnificent city.
Madison is one of the most desirable cities in the world. The city and its surrounding areas are blessed with a bounty of natural beauty. Its economy is seemingly indestructible. Its community is recognized for being open-minded, tolerant, and forward-thinking. But these qualities cannot be taken for granted lest we lose them. I am committed to not only preserve them, but to improve them.
I will not lead Madison with dreams of trolleys that will congest streets and deplete limited city resources. I am extremely sensitive about the hardships many folks and businesses experience in trying to balance finances and meet basic obligations, including property taxes. These precious resources must not be spent frivolously. I will only propose efficient and effective investments in city programs and services that will meet the needs and expectations as defined by Madison residents.
I think I can win because I listen to Madisonians and will respond to their needs. I will collaborate with others in earnest to find effective solutions that will lead us to a brighter future.
Note: This post was edited on Tuesday, Jan. 8, to include Peter Muñoz's answer.