The upcoming spring elections for the Madison Common Council are shaping up to be a battle of Progressive Dane versus everybody else.
The liberal Progressive Dane party is 12 years old, and as the party enters the teenage years it's growing like never before.
Progressive Dane–or PD for short–was responsible for the inclusionary zoning ordinance and the recent minimum wage hike, and its members supported the smoking ban.
They did that with just 8 members and now it's shooting to control 11 of the 20 seats on the Common Council.
That has party leaders fighting off an anti–business label.
Jennifer Alexander is the President of the Greater Madison Area Chamber of Commerce. "The Chamber's concern about Progressive Dane is that the platform they have doesn't include some of the elements that we think are vitally important; how to create jobs, how to keep the economic vitality of the community, how to create that tax base."
Michael Jacob is the election committee chairperson for Progressive Dane. "I think it's easy to throw out little soundbites that Madison is anti–business, but you look around and it's hard to see that coming to play. Cranes are up all over town, business is booming and yet we're maintaining the character of our city."
Mayor Dave Cieslewicz is a member of Progressive Dane, but he says having a majority won't mean big changes. "Sometimes people misunderstand Proressive Dane. They really don't vote as a block."
"Folks in Progressive Dane aren't interested in ramming anything through whether we've got the numbers to do so or not," says Jacob.
The Chamber won't officially endorse any candidates, but Alexander says they are handing out candidate profiles to Chamber members, "Not telling our members how to vote but certainly keeping them well informed of the views of the candidates."
Michael Welling is one of those candidates. He's running against a PD incumbent on the north side. "I felt it was from one sided issues–Progressive Dane's issues only. The rest of the people on the northeast side do not have a voice."
Both sides are working together on the Spring Out the Vote campaign, hoping that awareness of the issues will help their candidates.
The spring election is April 5th.