Madison business community rips mayor over appointment

Representatives of the Madison business community on Wednesday criticized Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz’s decision to appoint Bill Clingan as the new Economic and Community Development Director for the City of Madison.

The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Madison, Inc. and Smart Growth Madison do not support the appointment.

“The business community fought hard for a cabinet level position for economic development,” said Jennifer Alexander, President of the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce.

“We’ve compromised along the way to achieve this position, and the fact that the Mayor has chosen a candidate without economic development experience is extremely disappointing.”

All three organizations acknowledged their respect for Clingan and his community experience, but as Carole Schaeffer, Executive Director of Smart Growth Madison noted, “It’s not about the personality, it’s about the qualifications and the experience to match the vision statement created by the selection committee, and Clingan does not have that experience.”

“A very qualified group of people were appointed to evaluate candidates for the City’s Economic and Community Development Director position. Ignoring the committee’s recommendation is contrary to the spirit of partnerships that led to the creation of this position,” said Susan Schmitz, President of Downtown Madison, Inc.

In a recent news release, Mayor Cieslewicz cited Clingan’s management experience as his qualification for the position. University Research Park Director, Mark Bugher, who resigned as Chairperson of the Economic Development Commission upon hearing the news responded, “Using that logic, I’d make an excellent police chief.”

Before becoming official, the appointment must be approved by the Common Council.

Alexander concluded: “Economic development and community development can and should work together, but we need a person with strong skills and experience in both areas to lead the City forward. We can’t afford to miss this opportunity.”