Latest stories

Madison Mayor Soglin loses re-election bid, nine new members will join city’s Common Council

In Madison, Wisconsin, Satya Rhodes-Conway defeated incumbent Mayor Paul Soglin in the general election on April 2, 2019. With all precincts reporting, unofficial results showed Rhodes-Conway received 61.9 percent of the vote to Soglin’s 37.7 percent of the vote.
The general election candidates advanced from a five-way primary on February 19. Soglin came in first place, receiving 28.6 percent of the vote. Rhodes-Conway trailed him by less than 1 percentage point, receiving 27.7 percent of the vote.
Rhodes-Conway will be the second woman to serve as mayor of Madison. She previously served on the city council from 2007 to 2013. Soglin first served as mayor from 1973 to 1979. He was re-elected in 1989 and served until 1997. He was elected again in 2011 and re-elected in 2015. In all, he has served as mayor of the city for a combined 22 years. Soglin also ran for governor of Wisconsin in 2018 but lost in the Democratic primary.
All 20 seats on the Madison Common Council were also up for election. Of the 11 incumbents seeking re-election, nine were unopposed. The two incumbents who faced challengers were re-elected. Nine new members will join the council.
Madison is the second-largest city in Wisconsin and the 82nd-largest city in the U.S. by population.

Las Vegas mayor wins third term in seven-way primary with 83.5 percent of the vote

The general election for mayor of Las Vegas was canceled following the primary election on April 2, 2019. In Nevada, candidates who receive a majority of the vote in the primary win election outright. Incumbent Carolyn Goodman faced six challengers and received 83.5 percent of the vote. The next-highest vote recipient, Phil Collins, received 5.3 percent of the vote. This will be Goodman’s third and final term as mayor due to term limits.
The Las Vegas City Council’s Ward 5 election was also decided outright in the primary since incumbent Cedric Crear received 59.7 percent of the vote. No candidates in Wards 1 or 3 received a majority of the vote, requiring a general election to be held on June 11. In Ward 1, Brian Knudsen faces Robin Munier in the general election. The Ward 3 race remains too close to call with all districts reporting.
The cities of Henderson and North Las Vegas also held primaries. Three city council seats and one municipal court judge seat were up for election in Henderson and were won outright, meaning the city will not hold elections on June 11. In North Las Vegas, one of two city council seats advanced to the general election. The Ward 4 incumbent, Richard Cherchio, faces Pete Shields in the general election.
Las Vegas is the largest city in Nevada and the 29th-largest city in the U.S. by population. Henderson is the second-largest city in Nevada and the 70th-largest city in the U.S. by population. North Las Vegas is the fourth-largest city in Nevada and the 95th-largest city in the U.S. by population.

Democratic primary sets ballot for Wisconsin special election

The ballot for the Wisconsin State Assembly District 64 special election was finalized following the primary on April 2, 2019. Tip McGuire defeated Gina Walkington and Spencer Zimmerman to advance from the Democratic primary. McGuire faces Mark Stalker, who was unopposed in the Republican primary, in the general election on April 30.
The seat became vacant when Peter Barca (D) resigned in January 2019 after Gov. Tony Evers (D) nominated him as secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Revenue.
Two other candidates, Pedro Rodriguez (D) and Thomas Harland (Constitution Party), both filed to run for the seat but were disqualified before the primary.
Entering the 2019 special election, the Wisconsin State Assembly has 35 Democrats, 63 Republicans, and one vacancy. A majority in the chamber requires 50 seats. Wisconsin has a divided government, meaning no political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.
As of April 3, 52 state legislative special elections have been scheduled or held in 20 states. Between 2011 and 2018, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.

Election night results in Anchorage show no on alcohol tax, six bond issues ahead

Voters in Anchorage, Alaska, weighed in on 11 local measures at the citywide election Tuesday. The first summary report released election night showed voters opposing the proposed alcohol sales tax, Proposition 9, by a margin of 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent.
Proposition 9 was designed to enact a 5 percent sales tax on alcoholic beverages to fund homelessness services, behavioral health programs, and illegal campsite removal. Support for the measure came from Yes for a Safer Anchorage, with endorsements from Mayor Ethan Berkowitz and the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, among others. Alaskans Against Unfair Alcohol Taxes led the campaign in opposition to Proposition 9, and the Alaska Cabaret, Hotel, Restaurant & Retailers Association (CHARR) came out against the tax.
Initial results also showed six of seven bond measures ahead, with Proposition 3 behind at 47 percent approval. Proposition 3 was designed to authorize $5.5 million in bonds to fund improvements to city buildings and facilities. Propositions that were ahead included a $59 million bond issue for the Anchorage School District and a $33 million bond issue for road and storm drain improvements in the Anchorage Roads and Drainage Service Area.
Additionally, as of election night, voters were in favor of transferring substations in Frontierland Park and Goose Lake Park to Chugach Electric, allowing peace officers to enforce vehicle violations, and allowing sitting Assemblies to have discretion over lease-purchase payments.

Kansas City voters turn down early childhood education sales tax

Voters in Kansas City, Missouri, rejected an initiative to establish a sales tax that would fund early childhood education by a margin of 66 percent to 34 percent on Tuesday.
The ballot initiative, Question 1, would have authorized an additional citywide tax on all retail sales at a rate of 0.375 percent (three-eighths of a cent) for ten years. Proponents designed the initiative to set aside tax revenue for pre-k instruction, early childhood center improvements, and early childhood education staffing.
The group Progress KC led the support campaign—Pre-K for KC, and Kansas City Mayor Sly James supported Question 1. Vote No KC Question 1 led the opposition campaign, arguing that an insufficient portion of the funds would benefit students directly.
Additional reading:

Colorado Springs voters reject collective bargaining for firefighters

On Tuesday, voters in Colorado Springs, Colorado, rejected Issue 1, a citizen initiative designed to allow collective bargaining for uniformed city fire employees. According to unofficial election night results with 95 percent of precincts reporting, the measure was opposed by 69 percent of voters.
Approval of Issue 1 would have added an article to the city charter permitting firefighters to select an employee organization as their sole representative to act in negotiations with the city.
Under SB 25, known as the Firefighter Safety Act (2013), local governments in Colorado may allow collective bargaining with voter approval. However, following the rejection of Issue 1, the Colorado Springs City Charter will continue to prohibit employee organizations from negotiating with the city regarding firefighters’ compensation. Public employers in the city are still required under SB 25 to meet and confer with firefighters or their employee organizations upon request to discuss other policies, such as safety and equipment.
Issue 1 was put on the ballot after initiative proponents submitted 17,322 valid signatures to the city clerk in December 2018. The group Firefighters for a Safer Colorado Springs led the campaign in favor of a “yes” vote, raising over $670,000 by March 29, 2019. The Colorado Springs Professional Firefighters Association, IAFF Local 5, was the top donor to the “yes” campaign, funding 44 percent of the total contributions to date.
Two opposition campaigns, Citizens Against Public Employee Unions and Americans for Prosperity, raised a combined $392,000 to defeat Issue 1 as of the March 29 filing. The group Colorado Springs Forward was the top donor in opposition to the initiative, providing 45 percent of the monetary contributions leading up to the election.
With the defeat of Issue 1, Colorado Springs continues to diverge from other major cities in Colorado that have adopted collective bargaining for firefighters, including Denver, Fort Collins, Aurora, and Pueblo.
Voter turnout for the April 2 general election was 32 percent, according to city officials. In addition to deciding Issue 1, Colorado Springs residents cast votes for the offices of mayor and three of nine seats on the city council.

Chicago City Council runoffs: At least 3 more incumbents defeated

On Tuesday, Chicago voters cast ballots for 15 city council runoff elections, in addition to runoffs for mayor and treasurer. Four of the 15 council runoffs were for open seats, and 11 featured incumbents seeking re-election.
At least three incumbent aldermen lost their re-election bids on Tuesday, adding to the three who lost outright in the general election on February 26. As of 10:45 a.m. CT, the races for the 5th, 33rd, and 46th wards were too close to call.
One incumbent who lost Tuesday night was 40th Ward Ald. Pat O’Connor, the second longest-serving member on the Chicago City Council. He was first elected in 1983. O’Connor lost to André Vasquez, who challenged O’Connor from the left. O’Connor campaigned as a progressive as well.
Ald. Toni Foulkes (16th) lost to Stephanie Coleman and Ald. Milagros Santiago (31st) was defeated by Felix Cardona Jr.
Forty-five of 50 city council members sought re-election in 2019. In 2015, 44 incumbents sought re-election and seven were defeated—an 84 percent re-election rate.

Justus and Lucas advance in Kansas City mayoral primary

City council members Jolie Justus and Quinton Lucas advanced from the mayoral primary election in Kansas City, Missouri, on Tuesday. They each received about 25 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results. They were among a field of 11 candidates seeking to succeed term-limited Mayor Sly James. The general election is June 18.
Justus and Lucas have both been on the city council since 2015. Justus also served as a Democratic state senator from 2007 to 2015 and works as the director of pro bono services for a law firm. Lucas is an attorney and teaches law at the University of Kansas.
Kansas City uses a council-manager system. In this form of municipal government, an elected city council—which includes the mayor and serves as the city’s primary legislative body—appoints a chief executive called a city manager to oversee day-to-day municipal operations and implement the council’s policy and legislative initiatives.
The mayor’s primary responsibilities are to preside over city council meetings and official city ceremonies, and to represent the city on the state, national, and international levels.
Kansas City voters will also elect all 12 members of the city council on June 18.
Additional reading:

Democrat Pam Iovino wins PA State Senate District 37, flips seat

Pam Iovino (D) defeated D. Raja (R) in the special election for Pennsylvania State Senate District 37. With 93 percent of precincts reporting, Iovino led Raja 54 percent to 46 percent.
This is the first state legislative seat to flip from Republican to Democrat as a result of a special election this year. Previously, four flipped from Democrat to Republican in Minnesota, Connecticut, and Kentucky, and one flipped from Republican to Independent in Louisiana.
The seat has changed partisan control in recent years. Matthew Smith (D) was elected to the seat in 2012 to replace retiring incumbent John Pippy (R).
Smith resigned in 2015 to become president of the Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce. Guy Reschenthaler (R) then won a November 2015 special election by 10 percentage points to replace Smith and was then elected to a full term in 2016 by more than 20 percentage points.
In the 2016 presidential election, this district voted for Donald Trump (R) over Hillary Clinton (D) by 5.8 percentage points.

Lori Lightfoot will be the next mayor of Chicago, the nation’s third-largest city

Former Chicago Police Board President Lori Lightfoot defeated Cook County Board of Commissioners President Toni Preckwinkle in Chicago’s mayoral runoff election Tuesday. With 66 percent of precincts reporting, Lightfoot received 74 percent of the vote to Preckwinkle’s 26 percent.
Lightfoot was president of the Chicago Police Board from 2015 to 2018. She also chaired the Police Accountability Task Force and was a senior equity partner at the law firm Mayer Brown. Lightfoot held several positions in city government under former Mayor Richard M. Daley.
Both Lightfoot and Preckwinkle described themselves as the progressive in the race and called each other’s progressive credentials into question based on their political and professional histories.
Lightfoot presented herself as the reform candidate who is independent of corrupt machine-style politics. She noted her background as a senior equity partner and her past roles in city government, saying she had requisite experience managing teams and budgets. Lightfoot referred to Preckwinkle as a party boss due to her roles as Cook County Democratic Party chair and former party committeewoman.
Preckwinkle highlighted her experience as an alderman and Cook County Board of Commissioners president, saying she had the experience to run the city and a progressive record. She contrasted her experience in elected office with Lightfoot’s previous appointments to positions by mayors, saying the latter connected Lightfoot to the political elite, and criticized elements of Lightfoot’s legal career.
The 2019 race was Chicago’s fourth open-seat mayoral race in 100 years and the second mayoral runoff election in the city’s history. Lightfoot will be the city’s first female African-American mayor and its first openly gay mayor.
Chicago also held runoff elections for 15 city council seats and for city treasurer Tuesday.
Additional reading: