By Milwaukee Courier Staff
On Tuesday, August 9, voters face a choice between public service and dirty politics in the race for Milwaukee County Clerk of Circuit Court. This important position manages a $42 million budget, nearly 300 employees, and is responsible for managing court records and providing the professional staff who keep our county courts up and running, like clerks and staff attorneys.
Anna Maria Hodges, the former Acting Clerk of Circuit Court and retired Chief Deputy Clerk of Circuit Court, is running in the Democratic primary with nearly 30 years of experience serving our community. Endorsed by trusted community leaders like former Supreme Court Justice Louis Butler, State Rep. Dr. LaKeshia Myers, County Supervisor Willie Johnson, and two former chief judges of Milwaukee County, Hodges has a strong track record of making our courts more accessible to the public. Throughout her career, she was known as an independent-minded leader who kept her distance from the political elite while fighting the good fight for our community.
In Tuesday’s primary, Hodges will face off with George Christenson, an entrenched politician from Greenfield. Christenson never worked a single day in the justice system before his appointment just five months ago, but even so, he was hand-selected by courthouse insiders after Clerk of Circuit Court John Barrett retired early this year.
Hodges has mounted a positive campaign touting her experience and sharing clear plans for innovation. She intends to improve customer service, eliminate red tape and unnecessary top-level management positions, and do more to make court records available online. She certainly has the experience to do so. Prior to serving as the Chief Deputy Clerk of Circuit Court, she was the Assistant Chief Deputy and Civil Division Administrator for 12 years, a Court Coordinator responsible for key behind-the-scenes functions, and served in state and county government.
But in the last week, Christenson has mounted increasingly personal attacks against Hodges, distorting her record to undermine her in the eyes of voters. In his all-out assault on Hodges’ years of service, he has repeatedly cited a check that was not properly deposited by an official in the Clerk of Circuit Court’s office. But the official in question did not report to Hodges, and when Hodges was ultimately made aware of the situation, she helped resolve it.
Christenson has even attacked Hodges for sending routine emails to herself as she prepared to retire, so that she could assist her subordinates in transitioning key duties. Perhaps Christenson has failed to consider that this assistance might not have been necessary had he possessed actual working knowledge of the court system.
But last-minute attacks should not shape the outcome of a race this important. The people of Milwaukee County deserve a qualified person of honor as the next Clerk of Circuit Court. The qualifications, the public statements, and the vision of each candidate speak for themselves. The voters of Milwaukee County should keep their eyes wide open about what is really happening in this race, and make a decision accordingly next Tuesday.
Anna Maria Hodges is the candidate with nearly 30 years’ worth of proof that she has our community’s best interests at heart.