By Ariele Vaccaro
When Theo Lipscomb won the title of chairman for the Milwaukee County Board, replacing Marina Dimitrijevic, he knew he what he was stepping in to.
In 2013, a state referendum known as Act 14 proposed momentous changes to the Board’s operation. Wisconsin voters approved it, and county supervisors went from full-time to part-time public servants. Since then, the 1st District supervisor has watched the board struggle to represent its constituents the way it would like. And he doesn’t see this changing anytime soon.
“It will be constituents that suffer,” said Lipscomb.
Regardless, the new chairman has his eyes set on the future. With only eight months left in the term, though, the board with have to move quickly.
After two public hearings, officeholders got the public’s take on the 2016 Milwaukee County budget.
At one Wauwatosa hearing, commenters brought up concerns about the possible privatization of bus transit. This question had come up before, in 2013, when public transit was nearly handed over to MV Transport, a company in Texas. The County Board rejected this proposal.
A June labor dispute between bus drivers, mechanics, and the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) itself sparked county-wide concerns about public transit.
Lipscomb said that Milwaukee County’s public transit system is still one of the top in the county, and it’s beginning to pave ways for inner city residents to reach jobs in surrounding suburbs.
Parks saw seen an influx of county investment in the last budget, and Lipscomb wants to keep that trend going. An extra $10 million toward public parks have helped clean, reestablish, and put new bathrooms in parks like Moody, McGovern, and Kern. Last month, said Lipscomb, an additional $5 million was allocated to public parks for maintenance.
He was also with the board when they began working with deputies from the Milwaukee Sheriff’s Department to patrol county parks, rather than having Milwaukee Police Department send officers to the areas on overtime.
From what he can tell, Milwaukee residents can see the changes and they’re happy about them.
“When they see those investments after years of deterioration, they certainly note it and appreciate it,” Lipscomb said. “It is welcome to hear people be happy with what they’re seeing.”
Lipscomb won the position of Chairman of the Milwaukee County Board in late July. He ran for the position along with Willie Johnson Jr. of the 13th District. Lipscomb has been a supervisor with the board since 2008.