Published in the CapTimes, December 12th, 2014
Written by: Bryna Godar.
With former journalist Anita Weier stepping down from her north side Madison City Council seat next year, the District 18 race already has two high profile candidates vying to fill the vacancy.
Peng Her and Rebecca Kemble have both filed to run in the spring election, the former the assistant director for the Center for Resilient Cities, the latter a writer for The Progressive.
President of the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives, Kemble is a community activist and said she thinks there are opportunities for her to take that work to the next level on the City Council.
“I decided to run for council to really extend the work that I’ve always done in my neighborhood around organizing, around good schools, healthy environment and adequate resources for folks in my neighborhood and district,” she said.
If elected, she said she would continue writing for The Progressive on state issues but would avoid aspects related to levy limits or local government.
Her previously ran in 2011 against Weier and said this time he started campaigning earlier and wants to really engage with residents and hear about their challenges and how he can be more responsive to their needs.
Her, who is Hmong, said part of his motivation to run was the need for more diversity and representation of community voices. He is one of three non-white Council candidates among the 16 who have filed, the others being Ald. Maurice Cheeks and Ald. Shiva Bidar-Sielaff. In the mayoral race, former Dane County Supervisor Richard Brown’s announcement brought the first person of color to the table.
“I thought that this was a really good opportunity to make sure the diversity in the community is reflected,” Her said.
With less than a month before the filing deadline for council races, 11 of 20 council members have filed to run again, and two have officially declared that they are not — Anita Weier and Lisa Subeck, who is moving on to the state Assembly.
Lucas Dailey’s District 13 seat is also open, since he said upon accepting the position in an appointment this April that he would not run for re-election.
Two candidates have filed for Dailey’s seat: Zach Madden and Sara Eskrich. Both vied for the seat in April this year, when Ald. Sue Ellingson’s departure for family reasons left the position open mid-term.
To find an interim alder, the city’s Organizational Committee sifted through applicants, and Madden and Dailey were among the finalists. Dailey ultimately won out, with the committee appreciating his commitment to not run again in 2015.
So far, the incumbents who have filed are all running uncontested, including Cheeks, Bidar-Sielaff, Ledell Zellers, Marsha Rummel, Steve King, Paul Skidmore, John Strasser, David Ahrens, Denise DeMarb, Joe Clausius and Mark Clear.
Two other candidates have also filed: attorney Amanda Hall is running in District 3 where Lauren Cnare currently holds the seat and University of Wisconsin-Madison student Zach Wood is running in District 8, currently held by mayoral candidate Scott Resnick.
The deadline for filing in the race is Jan. 6, 2015. The spring primary election will be held Tuesday, Feb. 17, and the two candidates in each district with the most votes will go on to the general election on Tuesday, April 7.