By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
In 2016, Ald. Cavalier “Chevy” Johnson was elected to the Milwaukee Common Council. Prior to that he worked as a staff assistant to Mayor Tom Barret and twice he ran for a seat on the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors.
According to Urban Milwaukee, when he first ran for the Milwaukee Common Council, he won the primary election with 38% of the vote and later went on to win the general election with 52% of the vote.
That was four years ago.
Earlier this week, Johnson was elected president of the common council, a position previously held by Ald. Ashanti Hamilton.
According to the Journal Sentinel, Hamilton was expected to seek re-election,
but later dropped out of the race. He chose to indorse Ald. Milele Coggs, who has been on the Common Council for over a decade. She was first elected to the Common Council back in 2008.
In an interview with the Journal Sentinel, Hamilton said it seemed appropriate that a woman lead the council.
When it came time to decide, Johnson won the vote 8-7 having received votes from Alds. Nik Kovac, Robert Bauman, JoCasta Zamarripa, Michael Murphy, José Pérez, Scott Spiker, Marina Dimitrijevic and himself. Coggs received the remaining seven votes from Alds. Hamilton, Nikiya Dodd, Khalif Rainey, Chantia Lewis, Mark Borkowski, Russell Stamper II and herself.
Johnson will serve as president for the next four years. And while he may not have the extensive legislative experience compared to Coggs, his life experience suggests he has the ability to lead Milwaukee.
According to the Journal Sentinel, Johnson is one of 10 siblings. His father worked as a janitor and his mother was a certified nursing assistant. Due to his parents split, Johnson moved around a lot. He lived in various neighborhoods and zip codes including 53206, the zip-code known for its high incarceration rate of African American men.
Johnson told the Journal Sentinel, that growing up he witnessed gun violence, eviction, food scarcity, substandard housing and more. He saw and experienced things no child should have to experience, but he chose to let it drive him.
In other words, Johnson took what he saw and used it as a motivation to do better for him, his family and for all of Milwaukee.
After graduating Bay View High School, he attended UW-Madison and received a degree in political science, according to Urban Milwaukee.
According to the Journal Sentinel, Johnson said it is the responsibility of all common council members to ensure that the people of Milwaukee have the ability to lead a good life, which includes access to quality resources, public safety and equitable public health.
Although the council was divided on its vote for president, this is only the beginning. During these troubling times, now is the time to rise to the occasion and unify.