By Milwaukee Courier Staff
In the August 9 Democratic primary, the voters of Milwaukee County will elect a new Clerk of Circuit Court for the first time since 1998. It will be the next Clerk of Circuit Court’s responsibility to maintain accurate court records, supervise the staff who keep our courtrooms running from day to day, and help the public navigate an often complicated and challenging justice system.
It is essential that our next Clerk of Circuit Court is a person of integrity: a leader we can trust to serve with respect for the law and respect for our community.
Candidate Anna Hodges, the retired Chief Deputy Clerk of Circuit Court, has a 30-year-long record of serving our community and earning our trust. Working in state and county government, she helped members of our community navigate government red tape to obtain much-needed services. Over 22 years rising through our court system, to the position of Chief Deputy Clerk of Circuit Court, Hodges never forgot her roots. Whether she was helping unrepresented litigants find their way through the court system, connecting litigants who did not speak English with interpreter services, or managing hundreds of court employees, Hodges earned her reputation as a skilled executive with the heart of a community servant.
Hodges’ endorsements speak to the respect she enjoys in our community. Former Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler, State Representative Dr. LaKeshia Myers, County Supervisor Willie Johnson Jr., and civic leaders like Bria Grant, Andre Lee Ellis, Tyrone Dumas, Fred Royal, MacArthur Weddle, and Attorneys Robert Webb and Craig Mastantuono, among others, have proudly voiced their support for her candidacy.
Unfortunately, like many Black women who have stood up to the entrenched insiders in our justice system, Hodges is facing an onslaught of false attacks trying to undermine her campaign. Should this surprise us? All too often, Black women stepping forward as community leaders have been targeted with hateful attacks based on racist stereotypes: tired caricatures of the “angry,” “lazy,” or “difficult” Black woman that have been used time and again to reinforce white supremacy. In this election, Hodges is facing a similar whisper campaign – “off-the-record” comments to reporters, snide comments in the back rooms of political fundraisers, and behind-the-scenes gossip – attempting to smear her, falsely, as an ineffective and uncollaborative leader.
It is shameful that in 2022, a talented civic leader is facing this sort of smear campaign simply for stepping forward, once again, to serve our community. But this is also a clarifying moment. We should look to our political leaders, especially those involved in our court system, and evaluate where they stand. For example, what is Hodges’ opponent, interim Clerk of Circuit Court George Christenson, saying about the attacks on a fellow leader in the justice system? Is he condemning them, loudly and clearly? Is he silent? Or is he involved in these attacks himself? These are important questions and we need answers before the August 9 primary.
In Hodges, our community has a clear opportunity to move our justice system forward. Unlike her opponent, she has actually worked on the ground level of our justice system and then rose her way through the ranks, earning appointments from supervisor to top-level administrator. She is ready to lead and she is committed to serve. So when we hear nasty attacks directed at her, from anonymous sources or political opponents, let’s be crystal clear about what’s actually taking place. And let’s make the right decision for our community.