Even before he was elected this week to an astonishing third stint as mayor, Paul Soglin had long earned the mantle of Madison's number-one citizen. Literally every year that Isthmus has been a paper, Soglin has been a major figure in the life of the city he loves more than anyone.
Soglin's influence in and on Madison has been cumulative. The Chicago native came to town as a student, then became a prominent antiwar activist, which led to his ascension to the Madison Common Council and, in 1973, to his election as the city's youngest-ever mayor. In all, he's logged 14 years in two stints as mayor, interspersed with periods when he was merely an active and engaged community member.
His achievements are many. He resurrected the city's bus system, helped reform the police department, and pioneered advances in daycare oversight, equal opportunity and tenants rights. He built the Madison Civic Center, the State Street Mall and Capitol Concourse and, last but not least, succeeded in realizing Frank Lloyd Wright's 60-year-old Monona Terrace dream.
Madison has been forever changed and unquestionably improved by Soglin's dedication and leadership. And now his involvement in the life of this community is about to enter another chapter, perhaps the most exciting of them all.