Madison will have a record number of openly gay alders in 2013 if all five out gay candidates win their primaries on Feb. 19 for Madison Common Council, according to the LGBT civil rights group Fair Wisconsin.
The capital city currently has a record four out alders, including three men and one woman. The five out candidates for common council this year are all men.
“If all five win, this will be the first time Madison has had a full fourth of the council represented by members of the LGBT community, said FW executive director Katie Belanger.
“We are excited about the record number of strong pro-fairness candidates on the ballot this spring, and we are confident that these candidates will be the most effective champions for fairness in our local governments and school boards in Wisconsin,” Belanger added.
Madison is home to one of the nation’s highest per capita LGBT populations. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city ranked seventh in the nation among all mid-size American cities in the number of same-sex couples per 1,000 households.
The five gay men vying for a seat on Madison’s Common Council include:
Mike Verveer, District 4, a longtime incumbent who is unopposed.
Scott Thornton, District 6, president of the Marquette Neighborhood Association who is challenging incumbent Ald. Marsha Rummel.
Steve King, an unopposed incumbent who’s served on the council since 2009.
Larry Palm, an incumbent in District 15 who’s running in District 12 due to redrawn district boundaries; he faces Leslie Peterson in a race to succeed Satya Rhodes-Conway, who is not seeking re-election.
John Strasser, a salesman who's taking on longtime incumbent Tim Bruer in District 14.
Fair Wisconsin has endorsed all five Madison candidates.
Equality Wisconsin has endorsed out gay candidate Dan Manning, who’s running for a seat on the Fond du Lac City Council. An Army veteran who helped to found Knights Out, the first LGBT organization at West Point, Manning is co-president of Equality Wisconsin Inc.’s board. The influential SEIU Wisconsin State Council has endorsed Manning, who works as an industrial engineer.
The highest profile race on Feb. 19 is a three-way battle for Wisconsin Supreme Court, with incumbent Justice Peggy Roggensack facing challenges from lemon law attorney Vince Megna and Marquette law professor Ed Fallone. The two highest vote-getters will square of in an April general election.
Roggensack is part of the court’s right-wing majority, and opponents are positioning the race as a replay of last year’s tight, bitter battle between conservative incumbent David Prosser and progressive challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg.
Prosser, who is rumored to be a closeted gay man, is infamous for temperamental outbursts, including one in which he allegedly put his hands around Justice Anne Walsh Bradley’s neck during a disagreement over a legal decision. Prosser said he was simply protecting himself from Bradley.
Roggensack has pooh-poohed widespread talk about uncivil behavior among the justices as “just a bunch of gossip at its worst.”
But Bradley insists that the problems are real and serious. She recently wrote that she has required stepped-up security due to a pattern of abusive behavior by Prosser. She also said that she and Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson fear Prosser’s wrath so much that they lock themselves in their offices when they’re working after hours.
Roggensack’s white-washing of the court’s problems create the impression that she’s an apologist for Prosser, whose fiery partisanship and lack of anger-management skills are now well-known among Wisconsin voters and could prove a liability. Right-wing corporate spending on behalf of Roggensack, however, is expected to be massive – if not historic.