Vacant seats attract candidates for county’s 15th and 18th districts
With one day to go before the spring primaries, TCD turns its focus on two more Milwaukee County Supervisor races to fill seats vacated by long time board veterans.
Milwaukee County 15th Supervisory District
In the 15th district on the county’s west side, 20-year board veteran Lynn DeBruin decided not to seek reelection. She explained that if she was ever going to enter the private sector, she had to leave now so she would have enough time before she hit retirement age.
“It really was a personal decision as to what I wanted to do for the next 10-15 years,” she told WUWM.
Her decision opened up the seat to four challengers who all see the need for new blood on the board and representation for the 15th that essentially wraps around the city of Wauwatosa. Jerry Broitzman, Dan Cody, Jill Wesolowski and David Cullen will all appear on tomorrow’s ballot with big plans for the district.
Broitzman is a lifelong Milwaukee resident, served a two-year term as an alderperson in the City of Greenfield and has lived in the 15th since 2003. He is also a member of the Constitution Party of Wisconsin.
He sees the county’s financial health as the number one issue and the reason he chose to run.
“It is no longer possible for county government to fully fund many of the things that we have taken for granted throughout the years,” Broitzman said. “County government must focus on the things that government must do, rather than the thing we would like to do. We are out of money and we can not raise taxes any further.”
Broitzman would restore the cuts from the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department, since he believes the number one job of government is to arrest and detain criminals.
“The problems of criminality in our parks and on our buses is clear,” he said. “I want to increase the number of sheriff deputies and DOC personnel and make sure they have the budget and tools to fulfill this mission.”
And he would save dollars by making the board part-time, since he believes most of the supervisors are only working part-time and getting full pay and benefits.
Broitzman currently serves as president of the Capitol West Neighborhood Association, is a member of the City of Milwaukee Board of Assessments and serves on the Airport Noise Advisory Committee.
Wesolowski is making her first run at public office and was moved to jump in after watching partisanship trump everything in the last few years.
“I have no allegiance to any political party, so that leaves me free to evaluate every issue in its own context,” she said about the non-partisan county position.
Wesolowski is campaigning on her own terms – sans fundraising and multiple campaign mailings. She has not sought out endorsements because she says that the vetting process is closed to the public and that makes her uncomfortable.
Her platform rests on transparency of the process, and using her experience as a technical writer to simply present the facts and services to the people . She also plans to take a long view of the county’s revenues and expenses.
“(County) services, however vital, should be paid for with current revenues, not debt. Kicking the financial can down the road will only require future generations to pay for our government in addition to theirs,” Wesolowski said. “In the past decade, we have seen county budgets fall into the trap of short-term thinking – for example, using furlough days to shore up the budget. That might be a suitable mechanism for a predicted shortfall in one quarter, but it erodes employee morale without resolving the gap between income and spending.”
She disagrees with her opponents who want a part-time board. She sees that scenario as forcing supervisors to serve two masters or limiting the candidate pool to only those who can survive on a part-time paycheck. Wesolowski understands the public’s concern that supervisors are serving constituents, so she will maintain a time-sheet of her hours serving the public to ensure she is spending her time on the public’s concerns. She also promises to offer her time-sheet template to the other supervisors for use.
Cody entered the race to stop the deterioration of the county’s quality of life. As president of the Park People of Milwaukee, he has helped raise over $3 million in private donations to support the parks while stopping the county from paving over parts of Veterans Park on the lakefront for a parking lot.
“I believe strong parks equal strong neighborhoods and am committed to continuing the incredible legacy of our Milwaukee County Parks system,” he said. Among one of the ways he would strengthen parks and family-friendly play would be to enact a no-smoking policy near county playgrounds.
Cody believes elected officials need to get things done and to understand that citizens are struggling with increasing property taxes and diminishing services.
“We need more deputies patrolling our highways, we need safe clean parks, we need reliable and affordable transit to get people to work,” he said. “It’s shameful that after nearly a decade the Park East land remains an economic wasteland thriving with weeds. We need to get rid of the career politicians, we need to end the sweetheart deals for political insiders and we need to clean up government in Milwaukee County.”
“I will bring a new energy and fresh solutions to the Board, because I have a proven track record of getting results to improve our parks, advocating for the disabled and making neighborhoods safer for families.”
Cullen has represented the 13th Assembly District in Madison since 1990 and said he was encouraged by DeBruin to run for her vacant seat.
“The combination of my legislative experience, volunteer and community involvement and deep roots in Milwaukee will help me work with others to solve the problem the county is facing.”
He pledges to maintain the transit system and look at the idea of dedicated funding. He backs that pledge up with his vote in the Assembly to allow the county to raise revenue if approved by voters.
Cullen also sees the park system as another area for dedicated funding, with the possibility of having an allocated amount for the parks with a commitment to not reduce the amount or use it for other needs.
“Milwaukee County government has come to be viewed by some in our community as dysfunctional,” Cullen said. “I bring with me a long record of working with people and groups throughout the area to find solutions to our problems. I am an experienced leader with a life long commitment to Milwaukee. I can help restore credibility to county government.”
In addition to his service in Madison, Cullen is a former president of the Milwaukee School Board, a board member at Seeds of Health and The Steve Cullen Health Heart Run/Walk, which raises funds for heart disease research.
Milwaukee County 18th Supervisory District
In the 18th district, incumbent Johnny Thomas stepped down to run for city comptroller. However, his campaign was suspended after he was accused of taking a bribe as chairman of the county’s Finance and Audit committee.
To fill the open seat, three candidates have stepped forward: A.T. Buford, Tracey Corder and Deanna Alexander.
Corder has worked as a social worker advocating for youth, their families, veterans and the homeless. Her platform focuses on fighting for dedicated funding for MCTS to ensure people can get to their jobs. Corder also promises to focus on creating sustainable new jobs in the county and to make it easier for established businesses to succeed.
She also promises to hold monthly town hall meetings within the district and to hold weekly office hours for constituents to meet with her.
Corder has secured the endorsements of most of the county employee unions and from State Reps. Sandy Pasch and JoCasta Zamarripa, State Sen. Lena Taylor and County Supervisor Eyon Biddle.
Buford said his passion for the community led him to run for the county seat. He currently serves the community by working with youth in the Jobs for American Graduates program through the Milwaukee Urban League.
“I believe that I can represent my neighbors because I am my neighbors,” Buford said. “I don’t have the special interest allegiances such as my opponents have. I am committed to my neighbors and I think that is why I will win this race because people are tired of being pushed to the back by special interest. I believe that the average citizen such as myself, wants their voice to be heard and that is who I listen to.”
Buford calls his platform simple – to reduce unemployment and to create job opportunities through business development; work to improve the perception of MCTS and provide adequate funding for transit; assure seniors that services will remain in place for their use; and restore integrity to government.
Buford wants the Park East Redevelopment Corridor to be a priority for the county to spur economic growth. He wants to restore transit routes and make sure the existing system will connect workers to the jobs within the county or connect with outlying counties where jobs are located.
And in light of the recent exposure of monetary scandals at the executive and supervisory levels, Buford will demand an annual audit of the county’s books by an independent firm and make those audits available to the public.
Alexander holds a business degree and has studied Law and Public Policy at the master’s level. She is currently employed as a Fiscal Assistant for Milwaukee County at the Mental Health Complex. She is also an enlisted soldier with the Wisconsin Army National Guard.
Alexander promises to be responsive to her constituents, attend meetings and be accountable if she doesn’t, limit herself to two terms on the board and to always ask herself, “is it appropriate to tax citizens in order to finance this expense?”
She wants to find a way that the board size, pay, benefits and time commitments can be determined by an entity other than the board itself. She wants to revamp the planning and budgeting process in a way that will allow the board to adjust quickly when federal or state revenue falls. Plus, she wants to change the public hearing methodology, where citizens come and speak but the board members can’t respond.
“Why not hold public hearings that allow the element of two-way communication by giving leaders a mode of asking follow-up questions and giving citizens the opportunity to respond?” she asks.
In addition to her guiding question regarding the appropriateness of spending tax dollars, Alexander pledges to support local public safety personnel and maintain good relationships with all the municipalities that respond to emergency calls and to establish a reliable funding source for public transit.
The spring primaries will be held tomorrow, with polls opening at 7 a.m. Click here to learn what you need to bring with you to the polls to cast your ballot.