American Experience
Firsthand Accounts Firsthand Accounts
Jean Ponder AllenKeith HackettMike AriasDiane Sikorski KramerJane BrotmanJim RowenJack CipperlyPaul SoglinJoe CostelloClark Welch
BeforeOctober 1967AftermathReflections

Jim Rowen (2:01) video | transcript

When I went off to Madison I was a Poli Sci major and my secret desire was to be in Congress. I always wanted to be a member of Congress. I think having grown up in Washington, that's what I wanted to do. And so I was very interested in politics. I had no plan however, to work for [Paul] Soglin. I came back to Madison in '73 from Washington, I was working for Consumers Union in a job that Ralph Nader had really arranged for me as a favor and Soglin called one night. He had been calling throughout his mayoral campaign, giving me these little updates and I would put the phone down and I'd say, "Why is he talking to me about this? We don't live in Madison anymore. Why doesn't he leave us alone?"

And then he called the night of the election, he called about midnight, he woke us up -- we had a baby, he didn't -- and he said, "I won." And I said, "Well, that's great," and later I put the phone down and I said to Susan, "I don't get this. Why is Paul just telling us all this stuff about the election?" And then he called about two days later and said, "Okay, here's the deal, there's this job, it's the administrative assistant to the mayor, it's like the deputy mayor. Do you want to come back and help run the city?" And it was so appealing because this was the city that during the anti-war movement, people like Paul and people like me and others were completely shut out. At the time we couldn't vote. The city of Madison didn't want anything to do with us and the police attacked us. So the idea that you could come back to Madison and help run the city government was wonderful.

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