Madison Musician Jim Schwall has announced he is ending his campaign effort to become Madison’s next mayor and will instead endorse elementary-school guidance counselor Bert Zipperer in his bid to unseat incumbent mayor Sue Bauman in next spring’s election.
Schwall made the announcement Sunday night at an event at the Harmony Bar referred to by Zipperer as “Schwallapalooza,” at which attendees saw a live band play and drank beer on Schwall’s tab.
Schwall said his withdrawal was primarily in response to his concern of diverting votes from Zipperer, a scenario he thinks might decrease the likelihood of Madison electing a progressive mayoral candidate.
“The problem with professional politicians is the more they stay in office, the more they become cut off from the community,” said Schwall, who compared mayoral frontrunner Paul Soglin to former president George Bush, a public figure Schwall said was out of touch with his constituency. “Everything that is wrong with the city, it’s mostly [Soglin]’s fault. He’s been in office for way too long.”
Schwall ran his short-lived campaign by presenting himself as the anti-politician.
“There’s this little group downtown who knows what’s going on,” Schwall said. “They are so out of touch.”
Schwall, who earned a Ph.D in music and is currently a substitute teacher, cited his diverse life experiences as his strongest political asset.
“Because of my wider background, I can’t see any way I’m not more qualified,” Schwall told the Badger Herald in October. “All groups would be a lot bigger part of the picture under my leadership,” Schwall said.
Zipperer, a member of the Equal Opportunities Commission, said he and Schwall shared common ground in their mutual belief in the importance of grassroots local politics.
“Democracy. The idea of genuinely, actively involving the people of Madison,” Zipperer said. “We want to break down barriers.”
Zipperer has worked in Madison schools for 15 years, and he is currently a guidance counselor at Lincoln Elementary. The school is in a racially diverse neighborhood, Zipperer said, in which 75 percent of the families are low-income.
Zipperer, whose candidacy has been endorsed by the Green Party, Progressive Dane and the Socialist Party of Wisconsin, said his experience with poverty in Madison makes him better qualified to serve as mayor.
Schwall is the third potential candidate to drop out of the mayoral race. Former City Council president and Dane County Board supervisor Wayne Bigelow threw in the towel Sept. 27, saying the race was too crowded, and Madison school board member Ray Allen announced his withdrawal Oct 24 due to his mother’s illness.
The remaining candidates in the race are incumbent Mayor Sue Bauman, 1,000 Friends of Wisconsin director Dave Cieslewicz, former city affirmative-action director Eugene Parks, former mayor Paul Soglin and Bert Zipperer.
Non-partisan primary elections are Feb. 18, which will narrow the race to two candidates. The general election is April 1.