By Emily Bell
As a defense attorney in Milwaukee County I have a front row seat to how broken our criminal justice system has become. It is a system that too often fails to humanely address issues such as mental illness, addiction and poverty; instead preferring solutions that lead to mass incarceration. Too many judges have become complicit in this system, uncritically rubber-stamping what the prosecution asks for without concern for the implications.
That’s why I’m very excited that a progressive candidate has stepped forward to run for judge.
I’m supporting Brett Blomme for Milwaukee County Circuit Court Branch 5, and I’m asking you to join me. Brett has spent his career working on behalf of people and will bring diverse experience to our court system. He currently serves as the president and CEO of Milwaukee’s Cream City Foundation. The Foundation works to support the LGBTQ+ communities by providing grants, scholarships, and convenings. Brett also serves as the chair of the City of Milwaukee Board of Zoning Appeals, a position he was appointed to by Mayor Tom Barrett and was unanimously approved for by the Milwaukee Common Council. This leadership experience with the communities of Milwaukee will serve him well as a judge.
But even more important to me, Brett is a former public defender. He has represented people when they are at their lowest point and has done so with integrity and empathy. He has seen first-hand the dangers of an uncaring judiciary and the difference a compassionate judge can make. Brett’s experience as a public defender is why he has made criminal justice reform and tackling our state’s mass incarceration crisis a top priority in his campaign. He supports reforms that aim to reduce our state’s prison population by 50% by 2024. These reforms are desperately needed and are achievable. The State of Minnesota incarcerates around 8,000 people. Wisconsin has similar demographics and a comparable population and incarcerates TRIPLE the number of people (over 23,000). Every dollar spent on incarceration is a dollar that cannot be spent on infrastructure, schools, libraries, emergency services, or anything else that would positively impact the quality of life for Milwaukee residents.
We can and must do better.
Brett’s experience and priorities will be valuable in advancing necessary reforms within the system. Both of Brett’s opponents are former long-time prosecuting attorneys who have not made criminal justice reform a prominent part of their campaigns. If we want to change what’s broken about our criminal justice system, then we must elect judges who prioritize reform and will use their position to advance it. We must bring humanity back to the bench. Brett Blomme is the candidate to do that.
We are all aware of the sensationalist reports that Brett does not live in Milwaukee County. These reports are false. Brett is a resident of the Lenox Heights neighborhood on Milwaukee’s west side, and his Milwaukee roots are deep. They were planted when he came to this city as a first-generation college student attending Marquette University. There, he fell in love with Milwaukee and all it has to offer. Brett has served the people of Milwaukee as a legislative aid for Jon Richards and has also worked for Congresswoman Gwen Moore. Milwaukee is where Brett calls home. Brett’s husband Chris and their kids reside in the Dane County area because Chris is employed by the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Brett and Chris proactively made the difficult decision that Chris and the kids would live closer to Chris’s work because their family relies on his health benefits through the university. He continues to search for positions in the Milwaukee area and looks forward to living in Milwaukee full time with Brett.
I’m proud to endorse Brett’s progressive campaign for Milwaukee County Circuit Court. I know he will bring a much-needed voice to our justice system and work for the necessary reforms. I invite you to join me in voting for Brett Blomme for Branch 5 Circuit Court on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020.