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Plenty of contested races in Madison's 2013 spring city council election

Cnare: "I love this job, it's hard to let go."
Cnare: "I love this job, it's hard to let go."
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The Madison Common Council will have an unusually high number of races contested this spring, with just six incumbents skating by without an opponent.

The deadline to file to run in the election was 5 p.m. Wednesday. Only incumbents Mike Verveer (downtown), Shiva Bidar-Sielaff (west side), Steve King (west side), Chris Schmidt (west side), Anita Weier (north side) and Mark Clear (west side) won't face a challenge. Two open seats (where the incumbent stepped down) only had one candidate file to run. But the council's other 12 seats will all be challenged. The primary is Feb. 19 and the general election April 2.

"There seems to be a little more interest than in previous years," says Clear. "I don't really know what to attribute that to. It might be that there's a little more political awareness after the presidential election."

Interest in the council was such that even incumbent Lauren Cnare, who had decided to step down from the council, changed her mind last week and filed to run for re-election. Cnare says she was disappointed that only one person, Barbara Davis, decided to run for her seat.

"I love this job, it's hard to let go," Cnare says, adding. "It's awfully unusual to have an open seat and only one person running. It's not even a race. Usually there are three or four people wanting to run."

One possible wrinkle is that several candidates did not file statements of economic interest by the required deadline. An assistant city clerk could not say whether that would keep them off the ballot and deferred the question to city clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl, who was not in the office Wednesday.

County Executive Joe Parisi -- who is finishing up a short first term filling the remainder of Kathleen Falk's term, after she stepped down earl -- also emerged with no opponent. Ed Kuharski had filed to run against Parisi but did not file his nominating petitions by 5 p.m., as required. Eight people are also running for three school board seats.

Here's a quick breakdown on the Common Council races. In races where there are more than two candidates, a primary will be held on Feb. 19. The top-two vote winners will move onto the April 2 general election.

The forms that have been filed can be viewed on the city clerk's website. Links to campaign websites are provided if Isthmus was able to find them.


District 1
Philip Sigurslid, a restaurant worker, will challenge, Lisa Subeck, who is finishing up her first term on the west side.

District 2
This downtown and near-east district is by far the most competitive, with five candidates vying to replace Ald. Bridget Maniaci, who is not running again.

The candidates are: Colin Bowden, a community organizer and activist; Denis Denure, former mayoral candidate and creator of the Museum Mile concept; Arthur Kohl-Riggs, a political activist who ran against Gov. Scott Walker in the recall primary last year; Bryan Post, a data and analytics consultant for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and a member of the Tenney Lapham Neighborhood Association Council; and, Ledell Zellers, who works for the Wisconsin Investment Board and has been involved in Capitol Neighborhoods Inc.

District 3
Barbara Davis, an Oregon teacher, will challenge Cnare for this far east-side seat. Davis butted heads with Cnare over the controversial Grandview Commons, a development that Cnare supported.

District 4
The council's second-longest-serving member, Mike Verveer slips by without a challenger in this downtown district.

District 5
Current council president Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, who many believe will one day run for mayor, also faces no challenger.

District 6
Another tough race is in some of the city's most liberal, iconic neighborhoods on the near east side, including Atwood and the Willy Street area. Incumbent Marsha Rummel faces a challenge from Scott Thornton, former president of the Marquette Neighborhood Associationwho works for the Wisconsin Budget Office.

District 7
Ald. Steve King runs unopposed for reelection to a third term.

District 8
Christian Hansen, a restaurant worker active on many city committees, will challenge incumbent Scott Resnick, who is running for his second term in the district that includes much of UW-Madison.

District 9
Ricardo Cruz, who works for UW-Madison, will attempt to unseat Ald. Paul Skidmore in this far west-side district.

District 10
Maurice Cheeks, director of sales and outreach at Filament Games, runs unopposed in this west side district now represented by Brian Solomon, who was redistricted and chose not to move or run in a different district.

District 11
Chris Schmidt will be unopposed in seeking a third term.

District 12
Larry Palm was drawn out of the east-side district he currently represents through redistricting. But by chance, his new district became open when Satya Rhodes-Conway decided not to run again.

Palm is running for her seat, but he will be challenged by Leslie Peterson, owner of the jewelry store Amsterdam. She attracted media attention during the Capitol protests when a state worker popped her red balloon.

District 13
First-term incumbent Sue Ellingson will face two challengers in this near west district. Zach Madden is an Edgewood College student and worker. Damon Terrell is a math tutor and community organizer and activist.

District 14
The council's longest serving alder, Tim Bruer, faces one of his first challenges in years from John Strasser, a student and former salesman, in this south-side district.

District 15
Three candidates are running for fill the seat vacated by Palm. They are: David Ahrens, a union organizer and public health worker; Dan Guerra Jr., owner or Argus Ventures, and Hawk Sullivan, owner of Hawk's and two other nightclubs.

District 16
Denise DeMarb, who has been active with the Democratic Party, Sierra Club and the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin, will be the lone candidate to replace Jill Johnson, who is not running for re-election.

District 17
Spencer White, who for council in 2011, will again challenge incumbent Joe Clausius on the east side.

District 18
Anita Weier will be unchallenged in her quest for a second term on the north side.

District 19
Mark Clear is also unchallenged as he looks for his fourth term in this west-side district.

District 20
First-term council member Matt Phair faces a challenge from Kevin Wymore, a policy analyst with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, in this southside district.

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