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Could Progressives Take Control of the Common Council?


Candidates running for 7 of the 10 contested seats on the Madison Common Council are members of the political party Progressive Dane. Coupled with the 4 unopposed PD candidates, the election could provide the party a majority on the council.

While the city election is supposed to be non-partisan, some say it's becoming an ideological battle.

"Madison and Dane County have always been very progressive places with very progressive values and that's why Progressive Dane has done so well," says Austin King, District 8 incumbent and PD member.

Progressive Dane is a local, liberal political party with roots in the community that go back to 1993. But PD is gaining momentum.

"Progressive Dane does as well as it does in this city because we get on board with candidates who are really committed to their neighborhoods, who have progressive ideals and ideals that match their constituents," says Progressive Dane Elections Chair Michael Jacob, "If we were some sort of fringe the folks that we're backing wouldn't get elected."

But some council members worry the party could monopolize local government.

Zach Brandon, district 7 incumbent who is running unopposed, says, "If Progressive Dane has a majority it's really the things that people care about like taxes and economic development that are not going to see the light of day."

Brandon's concern is in the party's candidate agreement. It says members must advocate for PD issues and maintain a voting record consistent with their platforms and positions.

"If you went back over 2 years and looked at the voting record of Progressive Dane endorsed candidates, almost all down the line very rarely does one fall off, they're a block," says Brandon, "And on the big issues they're guaranteed to be a block."

A recent Wisconsin State Journal editorial also illustrated a certain fear attached to the party's growing power.

But King says members represent diverse districts, but have philosophies that match those of their constituents.

"Making sure Madison has elected officials that represent its values is really important," says King, "And this is this is a city where Bush got 20% of the vote. It is not a Republican stronghold and no one should be shocked when Madison elects progressive members to city council."

King says the big issues for the next council term include growth, development, transportation and the environment.

Most shared one sentiment, they hope this year's increased publicity increases voter turnout Tuesday.


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