By Mrinal Gokhale
With elections coming up in April, Milwaukee’s second district has two aldermanic candidates: Sherman Morton and Chevy Johnson.
Neither candidate has represented the district before.
Morton did not grow up in District 2, but lived close to the area on 74th Street and Courtland near Columbus Park and built a connection with the neighborhood.
“We have a very huge and diverse district. The income levels range from six figures to below the poverty line, depending on the area one lives,” he said.
“Over the past 11 years, while working with a lot of the residents, I have learned most people yearn for the same thing: peace and safety.”
After having worked as Alderman Joe Davis’s legislative aide, he feels he has a good idea of what the neighborhood needs.
“The one thing we have to strengthen is our sense of unity,” he said.
“During the past years, we have experienced some things we have not dealt with earlier and that is a slow but steady degrading of our peace of mind.”
He took some time to discuss his views, background and ambitions if he were elected as Milwaukee’s Second District Alderman.
1. Describe your professional background and any politics experience.
I have spent 13 years working for two very talented representatives of the people of Milwaukee.
In 2000, I worked for former County Supervisor James G. White. I was his legislative aide for the District 1 of Milwaukee County.
For the past 11 years, I’ve worked for Alderman Joe Davis as his Legislative Aide in the Aldermanic District 2.
Over the last 11 years, I have received thousands of phone calls, responded to thousands of e-mails, resolved thousands of issues. This was my main function as Alderman Davis’s assistant. My job was to make sure tax paying citizens of District 2 got the best services possible.
I did my job with great pleasure and distinction.
2. Why are you choosing to run for District 2 Alderman?
As I grow in my campaign, I find my “why” changing.
At first, it was primarily because I felt I was the most qualified for the job.
I had the most experience, know-how and passion for the community I have been serving over the years.
As I get further along in this race, I find myself wanting to be Alderman for bigger issues.
My district as well as the City of Milwaukee is in need of a truly independent thinker and someone who has a sincere passion for the district and the city as a whole.
Many people are just looking for a job, a title, a position or worse. Some are getting into office just to feed their personal ambitions and goals, not really caring about the people they serve.
I think it is time for true leaders to stand up and come forth to change the dynamics of our city. I want to be one of those leaders.
3. What do you feel are the biggest problems or concerns concerning the 2nd District?
For example, along the stretch of 91st from Appleton to Good Hope Road, the main concern is speeding and the lack of maintenance of 91st Street, which is maintained by the county.
If you live on the Southside of the district by Dineen Park or on Hampton by the Fond Du Lac freeway, one of the concerns is rolling or drive by drug deals. A big issue in a lot of areas is the blatant disregard for stop sign and reckless drivers on residential streets.
The first thing I plan to do once I get into office is to hold a series of 13 community meetings. I want to hear from constituents about specific issues in their areas.
I will invite different departments such as MPD, DNS, DPW, Milwaukee County Supervisors, Sanitation, Traffic Division and more. I think it is important for residents to ask questions directly to the departments that can make the changes.
4. What are your views on the Milwaukee Streetcar?
The Milwaukee Streetcar, from what I have seen, has no value or purpose.
I am a fan of a transit or high speed rail service that can connect the City of Milwaukee to outlining areas, with the hope of getting people who don’t have transportation to jobs.
However, as this plan currently stands, this is just going to be for entertainment purposes for a very select few people who live and work in a very small area downtown.
A proper rail system should allow us to connect to Madison and areas between Milwaukee and Madison for job access or even a rail system to get Milwaukeeans to Kenosha, Racine and eventually Chicago.
But again, that is definitely not what we are currently looking at.
5. What is one weakness of your opponent, Chevy Johnson?
My opponent supported the Bucks deal from its inception.
He was working as a staffer for Mayor Barrett at the time of the original deal and was all in from day one.
I was against the Bucks deal, because it was solely just for the arena.
I figured they have more than enough money to build their own arena.
Thanks to people like Alderman Hamilton, Alderman Wade and other council members, they were able to negotiate a number of deals with the Bucks, making it more beneficial for the taxpayers.
In the process, they made it so 40 percent of the work done on the area and future development associated with the arena would be minority owned contractors.
This is the type of foresight we need, and not just someone who says ‘yes’ just because their former employer say ‘yes.’