Election Day is when “We the People” are in full gear and are able to revel in our personal participation. It is also when we can indulge in the idea of hope: hope that the new crop of leaders will transform our nation, state and city. Election Day is when you act not for yourself, but for the community.
While voting is the foundation and embodiment of our democracy, we must always be reminded of our history in this country. The African American community has a long and costly process to achieve the right to vote. In addition to our ancestors fighting and literally dying for this right, it took the passage of three constitutional amendments before African Americans could vote freely in America.
Today, we still must continue the struggle to vote because African American voters are under attack on so many fronts. There are real efforts underway to either suppress the impact of the African American voter and/or through the legislative process, stop African American’s ability to vote altogether with actions like voter ID requirements or altering voting registration.
Every aspect of our lives is governed by politics, from birth to death and everything in between.
For the African American community, this is further exasperated because there are so many other issues that the political process impacts our community like no other: mass incarceration, failed public education, disproportionate levels of poverty and high levels of unemployment and underemployment, to name a few.
For these and other paramount reasons, we must take voting seriously and be extremely informed as to who we vote for. We must vote for those whom will support and defend the African American community issues as a priority.
Who we vote for is so critically important, which is why our endorsements are done after careful consideration of the current candidates, their agenda and track record coupled with their ability to win.
Today the Milwaukee Courier endorses the following 2016 candidates for office:
Mayor: Tom Barrett has a proven track record as the Mayor of Milwaukee.
He has shown a heart for the central city of Milwaukee and has a job plan for teenagers in central Milwaukee. As an ex-United States congressman, Barrett has connections to bring funds into Milwaukee.
His opponent, Bob Donovan, is too erratic. Donovan claims that having more cops is the answer to the violence in the community; the Courier disagrees. Donovan is a bad choice for mayor. Tom Barrett is our choice.
City Comptroller: Johnny Thomas for City of Milwaukee Comptroller. The City of Milwaukee is in a very ripe place at the moment. There are opportunities, ongoing projects and proposals to move the city forward towards a brighter future. But in order to do all that we have the potential to do, we need strong leadership, integrity and transparency.
Candidate for City of Milwaukee Comptroller Johnny Thomas has the right experience and qualities to calculate a brighter future for Milwaukee.
Johnny Thomas is a former Milwaukee County Board Supervisor, where he was recognized for his ability to bring people together and getting things done. From both the public and private sectors, Thomas has gained broad support for his hard work that addresses some of the toughest issues in the city head on including high unemployment, transit funding and controlling taxes and fees.
Thomas served as the chairman of the Finance and Audit Committee, and was responsible for an annual budget of $1.5 billion.
Recently, Thomas announced his vision for the Office of Comptroller. We feel confident Johnny Thomas will be ready on day one to best serve as Milwaukee’s chief financial officer.
From Johnny’s transparency plan to help hold more city officials accountable, we understand he is committed to eliminating wasteful government spending, strengthening budget responsibility and delivering government services for residents in a more effective, efficient manner.
We know Thomas will work as diligently as he has in the past to ensure he is a watchdog for taxpayers, and that the City has the proper resources to make good on its promises to create good jobs in our community.
There is no one more qualified or better able to do the job of Milwaukee City Comptroller than Johnny Thomas.
Johnny Thomas is the change we need in the Comptroller’s office and we encourage our readers to vote for him on April 5.
City Treasurer: With Spencer Coggs tenure as a representative, state senator and recently as the current city treasurer, the Milwaukee Courier believes that his experience makes him the best choice.
Coggs has a great track record working with the City of Milwaukee and has made it easier for property owners to pay property taxes through offering alternatives and new policies for residents with special charges.
The Milwaukee Courier endorses Spencer Coggs.
County Executive: Chris Abele has made diversity in hiring, both his office staff and throughout the county a priority.
He hired the first African American for County Attorney and appointed Demond Means, a prominent African American graduate of MPS, to lead the Opportunity School Partnership Program.
Along with the Milwaukee County Board, Abele created the Milwaukee County Office on African American Affairs to address racial inequities in Milwaukee County. The Milwaukee Courier endorses Chris Abele.
Wisconsin Supreme Court: Judge Joanne Kloppenburg is an accomplished jurist with years of appellate experience and a record of integrity and independence. Voters and working families can trust her to be fair and judicious. Her opponent, Rebecca Bradley, has expressed vile opinions about those she disagrees with, including calling Democratic voters “stupid” and “evil,” and using derogatory names for LGBT individuals.
She thinks birth control is murder, and for years, led a right-wing organization, the Federalist Society, that supported racist legal positions.
She also intervened inappropriately in a custody case and had a relationship with both the father and child. Milwaukee Courier endorses Kloppenburg over Bradley.
Milwaukee County Circuit Court BRANCH 31: Judge Paul Rifelj was appointed to the Circuit Court in December, having earned rave reviews for his temperament and courtroom management.
He has the support for more than 60 judges and Commissioners in his bid for a full term, plus hundreds of attorneys and community leaders, the Milwaukee Area Labor Council, and every public safety organization that has endorsed.
He spent 12 years as a public defender, and is currently the only judge in Milwaukee County who came directly from the public defender’s office, giving him a unique insight into the criminal justice system and how to make it better for the community, while still holding criminals accountable.
His opponent, Hannah Dugan, has left a series of jobs in nonprofit agencies under questionable circumstances, and many of her colleagues from agencies like Catholic Charities and the Legal Aid Society are now endorsing Rifelj.
She also has only two sitting judges from Milwaukee County Circuit Court endorsing her, compared to 35 for Rifelj, and many fewer attorneys.
Dugan switched into this race after spending a few months running in Branch 31, then dropped out when Rifelj was appointed, only to quietly get back in the race last minute.
Her indecisiveness cost her the support of public safety groups, who blasted her and endorsed Rifelj. Milwaukee Courier endorses Paul Rifelj.
Milwaukee County Circuit Court BRANCH 45: Attorney Jean Kies has over 25 years of experience in the courtroom, in a wide variety of practice areas. She also has an astonishing number of judges and commissioners supporting her, considering she’s running against an incumbent judge.
Kies also has locked up most of the elected official endorsements, the deputy sheriffs, dozens of attorneys and community leaders.
Her opponent was recently appointed and is already raising concerns about her courtroom style.
Judge Michelle Havas is widely known to be very close to Rebecca Bradley, telling anyone who asks that the two went through divorces at the same time. Havas, who was a part-time prosecutor before ascending to the bench, is simply not a strong judge or a strong candidate. The Milwaukee Courier endorses Jean Kies.
Milwaukee County Circuit Court BRANCH 44: Attorney Gwen Connolly is unopposed, but for an open seat.
The strength of her candidacy scared off all contenders, including Dugan. She has spent her career fighting for consumers who have been defrauded by big corporations, as well as practicing collaborative family law.
Her long list of awards and honors in the law led to a massive wave of endorsements from attorneys, judges, commissioners, elected officials and community leaders, and Connolly ended up unopposed to be the newest judge in Branch 44.
The Milwaukee Courier endorses Gwen Connolly.
He has a diverse district and knows how to deal with the diversity of the district.
Hamilton is dedicated to creating opportunities for jobs.
He co-authored the comprehensive Jobs Act which provides local employment on projects that improve neighborhood infrastructure.
Nonpartisan candidate, Vincent Toney, is competing for the seat.
The Milwaukee Courier endorses Ashanti Hamilton.
Alderperson District 2: The District 2 office is open due to Joe Davis’ run for mayor.
Sherman Morton, has 13 years of experience in politics and recently was the legislative assistant to Alderman Joe Davis.
Morton knows the inner workings of city hall and knows how to answer the concerns and complaints of his constituents.
His opponent, Cavalier “Chevy” Johnson is a good man, but the Milwaukee Courier believes Sherman Morton has the experience and is the best candidate for the Aldermanic District 2 seat.
Alderperson District 4: Incumbent Bob Bauman represents the 4th district, much of that being the downtown area.
Bauman is a leading voice on creating neighborhood revitalization programs in the district. Monique Kelly is challenging Bauman for the District 4 seat.
The Milwaukee Courier endorses Bob Bauman.
Alderperson District 6: We feel Alderwoman Milele Coggs deserves to be re-elected based on her years of experience and her knowledge of Aldermanic District 6. Coggs also knows the ins and outs of city hall.
Aldermanic District 6 is diverse and she knows how to work with the diversity of the district.
Community activist Tory Lowe is competing for the seat, but Milwaukee Courier believes Milele Coggs to be the best candidate for the district.
Alderperson District 7: Incumbent Willie Wade did not file for re-election, which leaves the seat open.
Milwaukee Board of schools Board member, Michael Bonds and Milwaukee County Supervisor Khalif Rainey are competing for the seat.
As a county supervisor, Rainey authored unprecedented policies for Milwaukee. Rainey was instrumental in the approval of the Office of African American Affairs.
The Milwaukee Courier endorses Khalif Rainey.
Alderperson District 15: Russell W. Stamper II is a hard worker and best for the office.
Stamper was instrumental in bringing St. Ann’s Center to 2450 W. North Avenue.
The center assists residents in District 15 and brought employment to many African Americans in the central city. Stamper, the incumbent is being challenged by Sean Muhammad.
The Milwaukee Courier endorses Russell Stamper II.