The April 6, 2021 Spring Election ballot will ask Madison voters four advisory referendum questions about the size of the Madison Common Council, the amount of alderperson pay, the length of alderperson terms, and whether alderpersons should be subject to term limits.

The Madison Common Council is asking these questions now as part of a multi-year City initiative to investigate whether changes to the structure of Madison’s government could improve representation and engagement for all of Madison residents, including people of color and those living with low incomes.
Thus far, City efforts to consider these questions have included a comprehensive review of the history of Madison’s government by an eleven-member Task Force on the Structure of City Government (“Task Force”), which included extensive studies, reports, meetings, surveys, and community open houses, culminating in a Final Report with recommendations to the Madison Common Council.

In its Final Report, the Task Force recommended that the City transition to a 10-member full-time Common Council with alderpersons earning approximately $67,000 per year. It also recommended that alderpersons serve four-year (instead of their current two-year) terms and be subject to term limits of twelve (12) consecutive years.

However, the Task Force noted the complexity of these questions. Not all of the recommendations were unanimous. Thus, this referendum is another opportunity to hear directly from voters what they think about these important questions.

This referendum is advisory only. It will not bind the city or make any immediate change. Instead, the City will use this information to gauge resident’s interest in pursuing these possible changes, including in a possible binding referendum in spring 2022. If implemented, the changes would take effect in spring 2023.

The four questions will appear on the ballot as follows:

  1. Madison currently has a part‑time Common Council with members who are paid approximately thirteen‑thousand seven hundred dollars ($13,700) per year. Beginning with the 2023 Spring Election, SHOULD the City of Madison transition to a full‑time Common Council with each Common Council member earning between fifty percent (50%) to eighty percent (80%) of the Adjusted Median Income for Dane County for a single parent with two children (approximately $45,000 to $71,000 per year)?

Yes
No

  1. Madison currently has a part-time Common Council comprised of twenty (20) alderpersons, one from each alderperson district. Beginning with the 2023 Spring Election, SHOULD the size of the City of Madison Common Council:

Be reduced
Be increased
Remain the same

  1. Madison alderpersons are currently elected to two (2) year terms. The Madison Mayor is currently elected to four (4) year terms. Beginning with the 2023 Spring Election, SHOULD City of Madison alderpersons be elected to four (4) year terms?

Yes
No
4. Madison alderpersons are currently not subject to term limits. Beginning with the 2023 Spring Election, if the City transitions to a full‑time Common Council SHOULD the City of Madison alderpersons be subject to term limits of twelve (12) consecutive years?
Yes
No

RESOURCES:

  • Read the Common Council resolutions authorizing the advisory referendum HERE or by contacting contact the City Clerk’s Office at City Clerk’s Office, 210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd, Room 103, Madison, Wisconsin 53703; (608) 266-4601.
  • Watch District Reports episode on the Spring Referendum and Review the Task Force on the Structure of City Government Final Report to the Mayor and Common Council HERE

Contacts