By Ralph Hollmon
On May 19th, the County Board’s Finance, Personnel & Audit Committee will be meeting to vote on whether to fund the newly created Office on African American Affairs. I recently sent a letter to every member of that Committee urging them to approve the County Executive’s request to fund the Office.
Many of us in the African American community feel that approval of this item is vitally important because it will provide greatly needed funding for the new Milwaukee County Office on African American Affairs. The Office was created by the Board and County Executive to address the “County’s racial inequities for the benefit of all of its citizenry, and for the region to achieve its full potential.” The mission is ambitious, and the County will need dedicated staff to succeed in the work of making this Office successful. The Board and County Executive set aside monies for Office staff in the 2016 County budget. Previous attempts by the County Executive to transfer these monies to the Office, however, have not yet been approved by the Board.
I have discussed the critical issues facing the African American community with County Executive Abele and have confidence in his ability to lead a collective effort to help address these challenges. Whether its workforce development, transportation, criminal justice reforms or other disparities; the work of the Office on African American Affairs has a genuine opportunity to make a positive difference on the issues confronting the African American Community.
The County Executive has made it clear that focusing attention on the African American community is one of his highest priorities. He understands that our Milwaukee County metropolitan area cannot reach its full potential unless all parts of our community can thrive and be successful.
I know that some have questioned whether the County Executive is serious about his intentions to aggressively address the African American community issues or whether he was just making statements to win an election.
However, his actions speak louder than words and I am convinced that he is determined to build an Office on African American Affairs that can tackle our disparity issues in an impactful, measurable, long-term manner.
I support County Executive Abele on his efforts to obtain funding for the Office of African American Affairs and hope the honorable members of the County Board will vote to help ensure the Office can succeed in its mission. The County Executive has demonstrated the sense of urgency that our leaders must have on this issue, and I hope that the County Board is able to make that same demonstration by funding the Office on African American Affairs.