By Karen Stokes
History was made on Tuesday night. The August 2022 Wisconsin primary ushered in diverse candidates. Two of them are women of color elected to leadership roles in Milwaukee County.
Denita Ball and Anna Hodges both won their Democratic primary races and will both run unopposed as there will be no Republican challengers in November.
Ball will become Milwaukee County’s first female sheriff, defeating Brian Barkow and Thomas Beal in the Democratic primary.
Current Sheriff Earnell Lucas is stepping down.
“Just because I’m the first doesn’t mean I’ll be the last, so that means I have to do my job,” Ball said Tuesday night.
She currently serves as deputy chief for the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office.
Recently the Sheriff’s Office has faced many issues concerning conditions at the Milwaukee County Jail, rising violent crime in Milwaukee and staffing shortages.
“We do have a lot of problems especially as it relates to violent crimes but the problems that we are seeing now did not manifest overnight and it’s not going to be tackled overnight but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t start working right now,” said Ball.
Before joining the sheriff’s office, Ball served more than 20 years with the Milwaukee Police Department.
Ball said her number one priority is staffing because she believes that the staffing shortage is the crux of most of the problems within the agency.
Retired Milwaukee County Chief Deputy Clerk of Circuit Court, Anna Hodges was elected Clerk of Circuit Court Tuesday. She unseated her opponent, interim Clerk of Circuit Court, George Christenson.
The position was long held by her former boss, John Barrett.
On Tuesday night, Hodges thanked voters for placing their confidence in her, saying, “I cannot wait to get back to work.”
Hodges is the first Afro-Latino and the first woman to hold the position in Milwaukee County.
“For me, it’s an achievement I’m quite proud of, not just for women but for women of color as well,” she said.
The Milwaukee County court system has been under immense stress since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
Hodges has ideas on improving the system, “I’m hearing a lot of things and a lot of concerns about knowledge and people. We’ve lost quite a few employees so it’s going to be accessing what we need to get things rolling again and get some solid supervision and talking to our staff about what their needs are. People are a bit stressed and I will go through the process with them to see how I can best support them to get back to that level of comfort in doing their job everyday.”
“As someone who has never run for office before, this process has been really eye opening. I’m always saying I’m not a politician but I am someone who just loves to work,” Hodges said.