Alder Maurice Cheeks today announced that he will run for mayor of Madison. If elected, he would be the first African American to hold that position.
“I’m excited to build a future worthy of our next generation,” he said in an interview Tuesday. He said he is running for a “couple of reasons. First, in this national climate, it’s more important than ever to have a local figure that’s going to step up and provide a positive vision for our community. And second, I really believe that inequality is at the crossroads of everything we’re trying to accomplish here in the city, so we need to take major steps to drastically reduce the racial economic inequality in Madison. I’m running for mayor to create a future that, like I said, is worthy for our next generation.”
Mayor Paul Soglin, who is currently running for governor, has not yet announced whether he plans to run for re-election, though he is widely expected to do so. Former alder Satya Rhodes-Conway has also announced a mayoral bid for the February primary and April general election.
In 2016 Cheeks, who was vice president of the Common Council, was expected to be elected council president and become only the second African American to hold that position. He was passed over, however, apparently in part due to behind-the-scenes machinations by Soglin.
Since then Cheeks responded to the election of Donald Trump by hosting “Leading Locally,” a “popup summit” meant to help Madisonians work toward progress and community engagement. It has become a Facebook group and a series of community engagement sessions.
Cheeks said he expects to engage in a number of debates, and will also announce a series of community events over the coming months, and will also announce specific policy positions as the campaign ramps up.
“I’m confident that we’ll have a number of debates and we’re going to talk about issues,” he said. “We’re going to talk about crime reduction, economic mobility, affordable housing, and voting access, and food access, and transportation, and educational issues. All things that I’ve worked on. But again, to all of that the inner section of every single one of those issues, that we’re going to be talking about through the course of this campaign, is inequality and how growing inequality heightens the concern of each one of those issues relative to residents in our city. That’s really going to be the focus on the campaign. That the status quo isn’t working. Madison’s hungry for change. I’ve heard that over and over from residents, that the status quo isn’t working. And that this job is too important to be anyone’s backup plan,” he added, apparently in reference to Soglin’s run for governor.