Madison Mayor Paul Soglin is running for re-election

Soglin for Mayor

Who is Paul Soglin?



When asked about his youth, Paul Soglin says, “One of the best things that ever happened to me was my parents’ determination that we live in an integrated community. My classmates were, black, Latino, Native American, and many Asians – Japanese released from the internment camps after World War II.”

While in Hyde Park, Soglin was active in the civil rights movement. While southern students were sitting-in at lunch counters, Soglin and his classmates participating in sympathetic boycotts of the Woolworth’s on 53rd Street in the spring of 1960.

In 1962 he was elected treasurer of the UW-Madison chapter of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). In October 1963, Soglin joined 200 classmates at a rally protesting the presence of U.S. military advisers in Vietnam.

In 1964, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) created an open housing project in the Chicago suburbs, the North Shore Summer Project (NSSP). In the late spring of 1965 Soglin and a dozen other college students set out in suburbs such as Winnetka, Wilmette, and Kenilworth going door-to door with petitions calling for real estate agents to show and sell homes to African-Americans. Before the summer was out volunteers had contacted over 600 home sellers and over 1,500 other residents. The project culminated with a rally on July 25, 1965 with a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 

The following day Soglin and the other students joined Dr. King in a march to Chicago City Hall calling for open housing.

Paul Soglin was arrested twice and beaten by police as a leader of the civil rights and anti war movements.

Paul Soglin was arrested twice and beaten by police as a leader of the civil rights and anti war movements.

Throughout the 1960’s Soglin participated in demonstrations against the war in Vietnam. In various protests he was arrested twice and beaten by police on another occasion.

He was elected to the Madison City Council in 1968 and re-elected twice. Respected as a strategist, activist, and for his grasp of policy, Soglin was on the front lines of movements and change. He was invited by Senator Gaylord Nelson to join the Senator in addressing University of Wisconsin students at the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970.

He was elected mayor in 1973 and his first project was creating the Child Care Program which included certification, training, and financial assistance. This nationally recognized program improved the quality of childcare, encouraged rising wages for workers, and more parental involvement.

Two years later Mayor Soglin introduced an amendment to the city’s equal opportunity ordinance to include sexual orientation as a protected class. This was seven years before the state adopted its statute.

Paul Soglin has proven himself to be among Madison’s most effective Mayors in history. His actions have changed the face of the City, past, present, and future. 

Accomplishments of the Soglin years include:


  • Funded the $35 million Adaptive Management program which will remove the deadly phosphorus from Madison’s lakes

  • Introduced the reduction program and certification for private applicators to reduce salt on our roads, driveways and parking lots.

  • Launched Madison’s recycling programs – Madison leads the nation in recycling diverting waste going to the landfill.

  • Stopped the planned expressways that were to run through Madison (Regent Street-College Court and Gorham Street)

  • Stopping the proposed nuclear power plant at Lake Koshkonong


  • The creation of the State Street Mall

  • The creation of Madison’s Civic Center that evolved into Overture

  • The Collaboration that led to the building the Monona Terrace Civic and Community Center

    Leadership that made the East Washington Corridor possible with Starting Block, Spark


  • Created the nation’s first public housing for people with disabilities – Karabis Apartments

  • Built almost all of the modern public housing in Madison including Brittingham, Parkside, and Capital Center.

  • Funded the South Madison Neighborhood Center (now the South Boys and Girls Club) and got the Warner Park Community Center off the ground.

  • Created the South Madison Community Health Center (Harambee) which lead to a significant decline in African American infant mortality.

  • Launched Madison’s second mortgages program to increase home ownership for low income families.


  • Launched the city’s Affirmative Action program and introduced best practices

    • Currently, the four deputy mayors include three women, one is a Latina and an African American male.  

    • Remainder of the staff hires includes a lesbian, an Asian male, African American male, and two white males.

    • Hires in traditionally white male positions include:

      • Director of Planning and Economic Development – white woman

      • Planning Director – white woman

      • Human resources director – African American male

      • Fleet Services Director – Asian male

      • City Assessor – white woman

      • Traffic Engineer – Asian male

      • Information Technology Director – white woman 


  • Took the defunct private Madison Bus Company and turned Madison Metro into one of the most robust public transit systems in the nation.

  • The creation of Madison’s first Bicycle path


  • Launched the city’s first Food Policy Program 

    • Expanded school lunch programs into the summer

    • Market Ready program which supported two new markets in food deficient neighborhoods Luna’s at Allied Drive and Willy Street North

    • Madison’s new Public Market on the East side

    • Expanded nutrition programs


  • Led the way in the state in setting standards for protecting public employees legally and financially against the assault of Governor Walker’s Act 10.