Many local political observers predicted that Madison's District 2 Common Council race would be close and they were right. Ledell Zellers narrowly defeated Bryan Post Tuesday night to represent the downtown district that stretches to the east between Lake Mendota and East Washington Avenue.
Looking to fill the seat vacated by Bridget Maniaci, Zellers said she utilized her knowledge of the district, having served as president of Capitol Neighborhoods for the past three years, as well as reaching out to voters she didn't know to edge Post.
"I did a lot of knocking," Zellers said. "I really enjoyed talking to people directly about my message, and I think that what I had to say resonated."
Post said that when he called to congratulate Zellers she "expressed an interest in working together moving forward. There is a mandate for cooperation" noting that only 76 votes separated the two.
Zellers said she expects to have a working relationship with Post as he is active in the Tenney-Lapham Neighborhood Association, adding, "He definitely has something to offer." Michael Jacob, Zellers' campaign manager, said Post was "a very good guy to run against and compete against."
The election was often cast as a race between polar opposites: young and old, renters and homeowners, pro- and anti-development. And many will call Zellers' victory a win for the historic preservationists and perhaps an indictment of Maniaci's strong support for the Edgewater Hotel reconstruction. Maniaci endorsed Post's campaign from the start.
Post said he has no regrets about the campaign and the atmosphere at his election party at Naples 15 may not have been jubilant, but it was positive.
Over at the Baldwin Street Grille though, Zellers and her supporters were enjoying the victory.
"I'm thrilled," Tenney-Lapham Neighborhood Association president Joe Lusson said. "It shows what a strong connection she made to all of the people from campus to Tenney Park."
Lusson added that he was happy to have an alderwoman who would be "respectful of and listen to all of her constituents."
That is an important point for Zellers, who felt that any depiction of her as opposed to development and only interested in representing homeowners, as opposed to downtown apartment tenants, was unjustified.
"I used to live in the Nakoma neighborhood," she said. "I moved to (North Carroll Street) because I wanted to be in this mix, fraternities, sororities, co-ops, renters, homeowners, all of it. So I find it particularly ironic that there is an idea that I have this preference. I love this mix."
As far as her immediate priorities, Zellers said she wants to make sure the construction along East Washington continues, calling it a gateway to the city that new development will improve. Jacob also said that development is "going to be a big issue from day one" and that in deciding how that development should occur will involve her "reaching out to everyone in the district whether they voted for her or not."
"I'm really excited for the policy discussions around development," Jacob said, adding she will listen to the voices of all the neighborhoods and her constituents because "that's the kind of person she is."