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Letter to the Editor: A city manager would not be a good move for Madison, and here is why

Editor’s note: The following is a letter to the editor addressing the upcoming May 9 special election and city manager issue. The views expressed in all letters to the editor and editorials in The Madison Record do not necessarily express the views of The Record. To submit a letter to the editor, email We reserve the right to edit all submission for space considerations in the paper and content.

Dear Editor,

I am a mom and small business owner here in Madison. I would like to offer a positive vision for government, and why a city manager is not a good move for the city of Madison.

City government should protect our God-given right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. “Happiness” does not mean consumer goods and pleasure. It means we have a right to work hard, create businesses for ourselves, and form homes, families, and churches. We don’t want to “own nothing and be happy.” We want to own homes and businesses. The government’s mission should be to protect these freedoms. Our officials should work hard to protect our rights to own property, and to buy, and sell, and go places. Madison could be a place where its citizens are known for their innovation. Where there are creative small businesses. We don’t need politicians and bureaucrats to plan that–we need them to protect our freedom to do it ourselves.

Sadly, what I see are barriers. We have centralized planning and government-run economic development, right here in Madison. The city seems to be preferring big developers and big chain businesses. Everything feels big now, and it feels like local citizens are getting smaller and smaller.

I do not see that having a city manager would increase our creative local opportunities, and it reduces our voice in local government. Here’s why. The council-manager form of government would give us an unelected city manager. The mayor would no longer run the city and would lose the power to veto the city council. So, citizens would lose a lot of say in city government.

Advocates say that the city manager would run the city like a business. But the city is not a business that has to attract customers—it is a government. It can acquire property under eminent domain. It has the right to use force against us if we fail to pay fees and taxes. That is not a business model! Small business can’t compete with that.

Insulating the city manager from voters so we have less of a voice in that power structure will not help us. We need to keep the government accountable, and make sure it guards our rights. I believe that keeping our current form of government will enable us to guard our rights better than we could if we changed to the council-manager form. I will be voting NO on the city manager on May 9.

Elizabeth Nemati
Citizen of Madison

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