Former city alder Satya Rhodes-Conway will become Madison’s next mayor, defeating incumbent Paul Soglin 62%-38% when all the votes were tallied on Tuesday, April 2.

Rhodes-Conway makes history as the city’s first lesbian, and just the second woman, to hold the office. Her campaign focused largely on pushing for greater equity in housing and transit, racial justice work, and a focus on better preparing Madison to deal with the impacts of climate change.

Prism Dance Club (formerly Plan B) was filled with cheerful supporters, including a large contingent of Madison’s LGBTQ+ community, for Rhodes-Conway’s victory party Tuesday night. “Girl On Fire” by Alicia Keys played, per the mayor-elect’s request, as she entered the building to rousing applause shortly after local news outlets called the race in her favor.

“Tonight, I am full of hope,” Rhodes-Conway said during a short and heartfelt victory speech. “I have hope for young people everywhere but especially here in Madison that have felt left out or talked down to or bullied because of who they are. I have felt that way once upon a time and look where I am now.”

She also thanked Soglin for his long work on behalf of the city, and urged the community to stay active and involved with civic life. “I am full of hope for our city,” she said. “Hope that we can be the equitable and sustainable city that we want to be, that we can be, but I know that I will need your help to make that come true. Please stay engaged with city government. We will need you to hold us accountable to those goals. We will need you to help make Madison a city where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.”

Rhodes-Conway will be officially sworn in April 16.

FULL TEXT OF SPEECH:

Thank you, Madison! In the words of the great Harvey Milk, “It’s not my victory. It’s yours and yours and it’s yours.”

I have to thank the intrepid canvassers who fanned out across the city in the ice and snow and rain, and the hundreds of others who contributed time, talent, and treasure. Each and every one of you helped make this possible. Thank you.

I want to thank my family. I love you guys. I want to thank my Kitchen Cabinet and my campaign team. And most importantly I want to thank my steadfast partner. I could not have done this without Amy [Klusmeier].


And I also want to thank Paul Soglin. I just got off the phone with him. I congratulated him and I thanked him on behalf of all of us for his steadfast work on behalf of this city. I’m really glad that this campaign stayed focus on the issues that are important to Madison.

To quote Harvey again, that’s what it’s all about. Harvey said, and he’s right, “It’s not about personal gain. It’s not about ego, it’s not about power. It’s about giving young people out there hope. You gotta give them hope.” Tonight, I am full of hope. I have hope for young people everywhere but especially here in Madison that have felt left out or talked down to or bullied because of who they are. I have felt that way once upon a time and look where I am now.

I am full of hope for our city. Hope that we can be the equitable and sustainable city that we want to be, that we can be, but I know that I will need your help to make that come true. Please stay engaged with city government. We will need you to hold us accountable to those goals. We will need you to help make Madison a city where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

I am so looking forward to working with all of you as your next mayor.