Madison City Council members took the oath of office yesterday at the City-County Building and there are now a record number of women – 10 – on the Madison Common Council.

“I’m excited about the symbolism of this moment. It’s important to recall, however, that the culture and policy approaches prototypical to one gender’s dominance in a legislative body won’t be erased by this one moment,” District 3 Alder Amanda Hall tells Madison365. Hall, who represents Madison’s east side, got back from a national-level Strongman competition just in time for the swearing-in ceremony. “This was an important and exciting step, but it’s a step, not a destination. It will take years to reshape these cultures and approaches, and to go from gender equality to true gender equity.”

It’s been an ongoing struggle for women to be represented in politics by elected leaders, especially in Wisconsin. For example, women represent fewer than one-fourth of the state’s 132 legislative districts despite making up more than half of Wisconsin’s population. But on the Madison Common Council as of yesterday and for at least the near future, it’s 10 women and 10 men.

“This is a historic moment. We have for too long not been given a seat at the table,” District 5 Alder Shiva Bidar tells Madison365. “Finally, in 2017, we have equality in gender representation on the Madison City Council. I hope that we can be an inspiration for more women to run for office.”

Alderwomen Amanda Hall (left) and Arvina Martin
Alderwomen Amanda Hall (left) and Arvina Martin

New Alder Arvina Martin won a race for an open seat formerly held by alder Tim Gruber to represent the 11th District. She became the first Native American to serve on the Common Council. Martin wore a traditional Ho-Chunk dress made by a family friend and moccasins made by her mother to the ceremony.

“I’m really proud to be a part of a City Council that is at gender parity. We know that having women elected to our legislative bodies affects the policies that are ultimately enacted,” Martin tells Madison365. “We know that having diverse experiences and points of view lead to new policy that affects us all. I’m really excited that Madison’s City Council is becoming more and more reflective of our city’s makeup.”

The Common Council has chosen Ald. Marsha Rummel of the 6th District as its new president and Samba Beldah of the 17th District as vice president. Bother alderpeople are from the east side of Madison.

Written by David Dahmer

David Dahmer

A. David Dahmer is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Madison365.