By Dylan Deprey
Rev. Willie Brisco, president of MICAH, peered over the podium. He addressed the congregation about the four mayoral candidates sitting in front of him.
“Everyone of them have the hope and heart for the city and want to serve for us,” Brisco said. “But, we will not accept B.S.”
The line between forum and debate was blurred at MICAH’s Meet the Candidates Forum.
Community members and local politicians braved the snow and filled the pews of Calvary Baptist Church on Tuesday, February 8.
The Meet the Candidates Forum allowed the community to ask questions to Milwaukee County Executive and Mayor candidates, while also giving candidates the opportunity to state their platform on which they are running.
The first hour included listening to the candidates for County Executive. In this situation, it was just a singular candidate.
Joseph Klein was the only County Executive candidate to show up to the forum.
Candidates Chris Larson, Steve Hogan, and present County Executive Chris Abele were not in attendance.
Klein had the audience’s attention for a full hour. He was asked questions via cards written by the audience and “lobbed softball questions to knock out of the park” by Rev. Brisco.
“I’m considerably different than most of my opponents,” Klein said.
Klein walked the crowd through his history of serving in Iraq with the United States Army.
He also mentioned his bachelor’s degree in history, which he received from the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee, as well as his entrepreneurial work with small businesses.
Other questions ranged from his view on the solution for raising minimum wage to his view on the world famous mass incarceration rate held by Milwaukee’s 53206 zip code.
“Crime is an act of desperation,” Klein said. “The best way to reform somebody is to get them a job.”
Klein attributed his life experiences to his perspective on life and what should be done for the city of Milwaukee.
“I’ve experienced homelessness; I’ve experienced depression,” Klein said.
After the one-man forum, next up were the mayoral candidates who were all in attendance.
Mayor Tom Barrett, Ald. Joe Davis, Ald. Bob Donovan and James Methu sat and listened to questions related to the issues of transportation, spike in violence and the economic state of Milwaukee.
“We need to reverse this ship because we’re already in uncharted water,” Davis said.
All four candidates are Milwaukee natives. Each had his own solution for the problems Milwaukee faces.
They also added additional opinions of their opponents’ ideas.
Barrett, Davis and Donovan attacked each other over state legislature as well as each involvement in the development in the Menomonee Valley.
“I’ve fought the fight,” Barret said. “I’m going to keep fighting like I have for the past twelve years.”
“This isn’t Milwaukee against Madison; public service is about the people,” Methu said.
With the primary election just one week away, the forum was bound to transform into a battleground for the candidates.
“They got thrown some questions that weren’t that easy, but they attacked each other more than the issues,” Brisco said.