Paul Soglin is the mayor of Madison.
Soglin was re-elected mayor on April 5, 2011, after a fourteen year absence, and began his third tenure as the city's chief executive on April 19, 2011.
The previous year he served as a Community Relations Officer for the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development authority (WHEDA) serving Dane and five surrounding counties. His responsibilities focused on the expansion of single family home ownership and the development of multi-family housing and commercial development.
From 2007 through 2009, he headed Soglin Consulting LLC working in a variety of areas including the construction of anaerobic biodigesters, urban development, and political consulting, previously for a labor organization.
From 2004 until 2007 he served as the Administrator at Epic Systems Corporation, a premier healthcare software developer. He led the phased move of Epic's 2600 employees to its new corporate campus, and has oversight of the $23 million investment program. He was instrumental in developing both Epic's investment and charitable giving programs. His responsibilities included design and development of the corporate travel program, which schedules over 17,000 trips a year, making it one of the largest in the State of Wisconsin. Other assignments included implementing an in-house food service for the new campus and reviewing corporate purchases.
In 2003, he ran for mayor of Madison and was defeated by Dave Cieslewicz, by 1% of the votes cast. The two mayors were to again oppose each other in 2011.
Until 2003 as a registered representative, he was a financial advisor in Madison, Wisconsin with Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp. During the same period, 1997-2002 and again from 2008-2011, he taught graduate seminars in Public Finance, Public Management, Public Personnel Practices, and Advanced Public Management-Organizational Culture at the Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
From 1995 through 2000, he served as a public sector representative trustee of the Financial Accounting Foundation a federally chartered institution designed to regulate accounting practices in the United States.
From 1995 to 1997, Soglin served as the chair of the National Advisory Council on State and Local Budgeting. The task force, created by the Government Finance Officers Association, published its report, National Guidelines for State and Local Budgeting, in December 1997.
Soglin served six terms as mayor of Madison, concluding his public service in April of 1997. First elected in 1973 after five years on the Common Council, he left public office in 1979 to spend a decade in private law practice. He was re-elected mayor in 1989, defeating the two-term incumbent. He was elected again to four-year terms in 1991 and 1995.
Soglin came to Madison to attend the University of Wisconsin in 1962. He received his Bachelor's degree with honors in 1966 and subsequently became a graduate student in the History Department. In 1972, he received his law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School. While in graduate school, he was elected to the Madison Common Council in 1968 and was re-elected in 1970 and 1972.
He was first elected mayor of Madison in 1973, shortly before his 28th birthday. As mayor he was responsible for the construction of the State Street Mall and Capital Concourse. He began the city's day care program, the first of its kind in the nation, providing center certification and technical assistance. During his first administration, existing buildings on State Street were reconstructed to create the Madison Civic Center, and the first components of Madison's acclaimed bicycle route system were completed. In addition, nearly 300 units of senior housing were constructed, inspiring the private sector to create hundreds of units as well.
When Paul Soglin first became mayor, the city's bus system was in a state of collapse, providing as few as seven million rides a year. Six years later, the city had upgraded the system, purchased 48 new buses, and annual ridership doubled to nearly fourteen million rides. A similar revival in public transit occurred when he returned to office from 1989-1997. Soglin also worked with a staff team to establish the city's Para transit system, then the nation's most comprehensive door-to-door service, which continues to serve elderly and disabled riders today. These efforts won awards from the Urban Mass Transit Association and the American Public Transit Association.
In 1973, under Soglin's leadership, the bond rating agencies gave Madison their highest rating available to a municipality, AAA. The confidence in Madison's financial health was reaffirmed recently when Moody's Investment Services praised the city's strong budgetary control, stating that, "conservative budgeting and strong fiscal oversight consistently produce positive results." Madison is one of very few cities in the United States to have the AAA bond rating. When Soglin left office in 1997, the city had an undesignated reserve fund of $12 million dollars, an exceptional accomplishment.
When Soglin decided to retire from public service in 1979, the Institute of Politics awarded him a fellowship at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. From 1980 until he returned to the mayor's office in 1989, he practiced administrative law in Madison.
As mayor, Paul Soglin was the chief administrator of the city of Madison. He was responsible for the preparation and implementation of a $140 million annual budget and the supervision of 2,500 employees. He focused most of his energies on the mission of city government: insuring the health and safety of all the city's citizens and neighborhoods.
As a result, Madison was recognized repeatedly as an exceptional community, most notably when Money magazine rated Madison the nation's #1 livable city in 1996 and again a year after he left office in 1998. During his tenure, Madison was noted for its environmental quality and as the best place in which to raise children (Zero Population Growth), for bicycling (Bicycling magazine), as a place to start a business ("Entrepreneur"), and as a place for women to live ("Savvy" magazine). A few months after he left office, Good Housekeeping magazine proclaimed Madison the best community for women in America.
A vibrant, healthy city and local economy is not just a happy accident. Mayor Soglin and his staff worked diligently to achieve considerable success in managing city resources, encouraging responsible growth, and economic development, and investing in neighborhoods. For three years, Madison had the lowest unemployment rate in the United States, averaging about 1.5 percent. Through careful planning and management, Madison's city government per capita spending dropped below the statewide average, while the highest possible quality of city services was maintained.
Soglin's success as mayor was based on a combination of strong leadership and deep respect for his management team and public employees. He worked closely with them to defined problems and criteria for acceptable solutions then supported them in applying their professional skills to the challenges at hand. He recruited and maintained what is widely regarded as the most successful and professional management team in the city's history. Similarly, he forged a tradition of civic participation that engaged laypersons, consumers, and experts in joint efforts to define new municipal solutions.
Critical to both these approaches was an intentional effort to place women and people of color in leadership roles. The city's first women firefighters and municipal division heads were appointed during Soglin's tenure. People of color became more representatively engaged both on the staff and on municipal committees. The city's purchasing programs began to demand affirmative behavior from its contractors.
He developed Neighborhood Resource Teams, which were a key component in combating gang activity and providing neighborhood based strategies that succeed in strengthening Madison communities. Based on Soglin's observation that public health nurses were often the first to confront problems that threatened neighborhood well being, these teams linked public health, social service, and law enforcement resources together in prevention efforts in Madison's most fragile neighborhoods. The significant drop in violent crime and corresponding economic and educational benefits that resulted from the work of these teams are his proudest achievement from this period.
As an outgrowth of this work, he led the creation of the Harambee Center, South Madison's community-based, health education, health care, education, and family service center. The Harambee Center was a partnership effort that included the Madison Public Library, the Madison Community Health Center, the Dane County Department of Public Health, Planned Parenthood, the UW School of Nursing, Madison Area Technical College, Edgewood College and other community agencies. Today the Harambee Center is the centerpiece of the growing renaissance in the South Madison community.
Presently Madison and Dane County are the subject of a national study. Beginning in 2000, the local black infant mortality rate declined until by 2007 it was as low as the infant mortality rate for white babies. While the black rate increased in 2008, and the results of the study will not be available for another year, it is assumed that the creation of the collaborative Harambee program was a contributor to this significant accomplishment in public health.
In July of 1997, the City of Madison opened Monona Terrace, a $67 million convention center first conceived by Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1930's. The facility, which most thought would never be built after three efforts to finance the project failed in 1955, 1969 and 1975, closely follows Wright's original design. Despite this history of failure, Soglin's commitment to the project and his design for a carefully structured public - private partnership in fundraising and governance succeeded.
Under Soglin's leadership, the city strengthened its relationships with the public schools, the University of Wisconsin, community organizations, and the broader business community in a variety of ways. In some cases, citizen committees were formed to create on-going vehicles for dialogue. In others, Soglin participated in broader community fundraising activities for the common good, or advocated for critical referenda (particularly those related to keeping schools strong). Sound channels for communicating around economic development, physical development, and social development policy were forged. As an advocate for the concerns of America's citizens, Mayor Soglin was an active leader of the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM), serving on the organization's advisory board and as chair of many committees. In 1993, he was appointed chair of the Urban Economic Policy Committee, a post he held for three years. As chair, he was responsible for directing conference policy on urban economic issues. This work included taking a prominent advocacy role with regard to increasing FICA deductions to help stabilize both Social Security and Medicaid programs. Closer to home, he served on the Governor's Task Force on State and Local Relations, and on the board of the Wisconsin Alliance of Cities.
An innovator in government management and administration, Paul Soglin has lectured on his experiences in total quality management, the City of Madison's strategic planning and management systems and other initiatives including the city's innovations in customer service and its Neighborhood Resource Teams.
Today, when Paul is not spending time with his wife, Sara Soglin, and their three daughters, Rachael, 28, an actor in Los Angeles, Alexandra, 25, employed by the YMCA in Madison, and Natasha, 23 a recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he can be found on the back roads of glaciated Dane County bicycling to the water pump in Paoli. In July, 2001, he completed the 520-mile Heartland AIDS ride, including three back-to-back centuries, from Minneapolis to Chicago, returning in one piece.