The Madison Common Council elected Ald. Sheri Carter, District 14, and Ald. Syed Abbas, District 12, as Madison Common Council president and vice president, respectively, Tuesday.
Carter won the presidential race over Ald. Arvina Martin, District 11, in an 11-6 vote, during the meeting which was broadcasted online.
Carter has been a Madison alder since April of 2015 and served on many of the Council’s committees, including the finance and executive committee, according to the Common Council website.
Carter said the president presides over the council, along with the mayor, and sets the agenda for future meetings, among other duties.
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Abbas won the vice presidential race over Ald. Keith Furman, District 19. Abbas has been on the council since April of 2019 and was on many committees including the Sustainable Madison Committee, according to the Common Council website.
“When I was doing work before, [I] was always serving my own district and a couple of committees,” Abbas said. “But now, I am serving the city of Madison and looking into various committees.”
Like many other institutions and governments, the Common Council has worked to smoothly transition from in person meetings to virtual meetings. Carter said the council never anticipated everything would have to be done online until now.
Abbas said the transition has gone better than expected. Most of the issues now come from the user’s side.
“Better than my expectation,” Abbas said. “Initially, I was nervous about that, how the community will engage and the technical issues and all that. But the IT department did a phenomenal job.”
Carter said the biggest challenge right now is getting all the boards, commissions and committees back to having meetings virtually. Abbas said one of the big focuses right now for the Common Council has been deciding which committees to re-open back up online.
Currently, Abbas and Carter are reviewing the possible committees and seeing what resources, in particular IT, they have to provide.
“When you think about what was normal in January, when we were meeting physically, and now trying to manage our technology capabilities to cover all of the boards, commissions and committees, that’s a heavy lift,” Carter said. “And, of course, we are working on that everyday trying to get more and more committees able to have their meetings.”
Carter said despite it being difficult to see beyond the pandemic, she does want to work on certain things after it’s over. Specifically, Carter wants to look at economic recovery, evictions and healthcare after the pandemic.
Abbas said the Council is keeping track of the election in November and next year’s budget, and they’re working to increase public engagement.
“It’s going to be very challenging time during this year,” Abbas said. “So, we are looking into all aspects and engaging the whole council in the process and taking advantage of senior alders, their experience, and working collaboratively.”