Run for Council

Madison's Common Council is made up of 20 democratically elected alders, who represent the residents of their districts, and work with the mayor, other city officials, and city employees to address issues that come before the Common Council that effect the entire city. The Common Council aims to reflect the desires and aspirations of its residents and embraces public involvement and input. Alders serve for 2 years. This page is intended as a resource to help encourage Madison residents to run for the Madison Common Council.

What is an Alder's Role in the City of Madison?

The Basics

  • Conduct yourself in a professional manner.
  • Attend and participate at Council Meetings.
  • Be available to constituents.
  • Follow all Ethics rules and other applicable standards of conduct.

The Core Alder Job

  • Advocate for your district and your constituents in the City process.
  • Serve on City committees as appointed, and be an active, prepared, and equal participant.
  • Communicate actively with your constituents in multiple ways (listservs, newsletters, website, and meetings) about City resources and issues, policy debates, development proposals, and other relevant information.
  • Participate fully in the process of developing and approving the annual City Budget.
  • Communicate the needs and views of your constituents to City staff, committees, and the Council.

Important Responsibilities

  • Act as a liaison between the committees you serve on and the Council, and sponsor legislation for those committees.
  • Participate in the development and implementation of a Council Legislative Agenda.
  • Prepare and educate yourself and your constituents on city-wide and controversial policy topics or issues that come before the Council, and engage in the debate and decision making process around them.
  • Advance policy issues important to your district and the City.
  • Help make City government accessible and welcoming to all Madison residents.

How to Get on the Ballot

Learn about the election, important dates, campaign finance requirements, necessary forms, and more.

Running for Local Office

Learn More About City Government

Visit our Resource Guide to learn more about:

  • Boards, Commissions, and Committees
  • The Budget Process
  • Open Meetings Laws
  • The Mayor and Common Council
  • City Departments/Divisions

Still have questions?

Contact us at (608) 266-4071 or

Candidate Resources

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