Author: Will Kenneally
Madison Mayor Paul Soglin will not seek re-election in 2019, saying at a Tuesday press conference that the time was right for his decision to retire as mayor.
“Between six and eight years is the right amount of time,” Soglin said of his mayoral tenure. Soglin was elected to his current term in 2011, and has held the position three times since first being elected in 1973.
Soglin said today that with his departure as mayor “there will not be a third sequel,” but said he will continue to run in the Democratic primary for governor.
He is currently running in an eight-way Democratic primary race to unseat Gov. Scott Walker and said the race was part of the reason to retire, but it did not ultimately sway his decision to not seek re-election.
Soglin said that he decided to retire months ago, and he chose a late July announcement date to give candidates running for the seat enough time to make their case before next April’s election.
“It’s just one factor, but I can tell you this: If I was not running for governor, this would still be the last term,” Soglin said.
He said his desire to serve the public is still there as he seeks higher office.
“[The people of Wisconsin] deserve an executive who is going to put their expectations ahead of political careers. Obviously I have no further ambition than to serve as governor,” Soglin said.
Polls have Soglin among the top four Democrats heading into the August primary. When asked what he would do if he lost the Democratic primary, Soglin says he does not think in hypotheticals.
“If you’re trying to say what are your plans–my plans are to be the state’s next governor,” he said.
Three candidates have already announced their intent to run to replace Soglin as Madison’s mayor: Satya Rhodes-Conway, Maurice Cheeks and Brenda Konkel. In the statement announcing his decision to retire, Soglin wrote that Rhodes-Conway is “eminently qualified” to be mayor, but said at the press conference he has not yet endorsed any candidate.
Rhodes-Conway took to Twitter in the wake of Soglin’s announcement, writing “I’m glad I’ve earned his trust and confidence, and I’m working hard to earn the trust and confidence of people across Madison.”
In a statement, Cheeks said he “commend[s] Mayor Soglin for his many years of dedicated public service. Now more than ever, Madison is ready for a new leader with a positive vision for the future.”
In an email to WSUM, Konkel said that “despite our differences, I’ve considered him a mentor and appreciate his many years of dedicated service to the city.”
“It’s a bit disappointing that Mayor Soglin will not be running for Mayor in April 2019,” Konkel added, “we could have had some great debates!”
The spring mayoral election will be held April 2, with a primary on February 19.