Michael Horne
Plenty of Horne

Race for Dudzik’s Seat Could Get Heated

Will anti-streetcar group get involved? And did Journal Sentinel exaggerate the number of candidates?

By - Jun 4th, 2015 01:57 pm
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Mark Borkowski

Mark Borkowski

Could the anti-streetcar group, which failed miserably in its attempt to get enough signatures to force a referendum on the issue, resurrect itself in the race for late alderman Joe Dudzik‘s now open 11th District Aldermanic seat? The first to salute County Supervisor Mark Borkowski‘s plan to run for the open seat came in a Facebook post from an anti-streetcar group June 2nd.

“It’s vital to our efforts to stop the streetcar project that the residents of District 11 elect a new representative that will follow in the footsteps of Alderman Dudzik’s strong opposition to the streetcar. Certainly Mayor (Tom) Barrett and his insiders are working to get a pro-streetcar candidate elected,” STOP the Milwaukee Streetcar wrote.

There would be great irony if the group backed Borkowski, because it has been led by Chris Kliesmet and Orville Seymer of the Citizens for Responsible Government, or CRG Network, which got its start working to recall officials who voted for the infamous county pension plan under then County Executive Tom Ament. One of those who voted for the plan (but somehow survived all the recalls) is Borkowski. He is the longest-serving (since 1992) member of the County Board, and for the near quarter-century he has been in office, his has been a full-pay, if not full-time job. But by next term, with salaries plunging to half or less of the current $51,000 or so level, the prospect of earning over $73,222 per year as an alderman could be enticing for Borkowski. He had announced plans to retire from the board at the end of this term, so he might also be able to double-dip: collect an aldermanic salary and future city retirement benefits, while receiving a county pension.

Borkowski recently authored a failed and meaningless measure to prevent the county from becoming involved in the streetcar issue, although no such plans were in the offing, so this helps to establish his credentials among the anti-streetcar set.

“Who is likely to be the Mayor’s pro-streetcar candidate of choice, you ask? We’re told that is State Representative Daniel Riemer and/or State Senator Tim Carpenter,” the anti-streetcar post wrote.

This offhanded guess that Mayor Tom Barrett was considering Riemer as his “candidate of choice” was apparently sufficient to set Journal Sentinel reporter Dan Bice on his tail. Bice wrote in his story that Riemer, Rep. Josh Zepnick and Rep. Peggy Krusick were “weighing a possible bid,” and that “they have decided not to run.”

Riemer, when questioned by Urban Milwaukee, took issue with Bice’s story and denies that he ever considered running for alderman. In a telephone conversation Wednesday he made this clear using every iteration of non-candidacy he could summon. “I am happy in the legislature … I plan to continue my work here on education and healthcare … I hope to continue my service here … I have no intention of running for alderman.

Zepnick also expressed surprise at being included in the “Crowded field forming to replace Dudzik,” as the Bice headline put it. Zepnick, whose residence is in Terry Witkowski‘s district, has already announced as a candidate for the 8th District seat of Bob Donovan, who plans to run both for re-election and for mayor next spring.

So could Rep Zepnick please clarify what race he is running in?

“What’s to clarify?” he responded to Urban Milwaukee. “Other people mentioned my name to Bice because of my district map. He called me. I explained I’m 200 percent invested in the 8th district. Donovan is running for mayor. I am totally focused on the people and places of my south side neighborhoods. I have served all but 4 wards of the 8th for many years. I out perform electorally Donovan, Gwen Moore, Mary Burke.”

Michael Lutz

Michael Lutz

State Sen. Tim Carpenter also told Bice he is considering a run for the Dudzik seat, but he did not return messages from Urban Milwaukee Wednesday.

The other candidate from Bice’s “Crowded field” is Michael William Lutz, 44, a former Milwaukee police officer and attorney who says he is a lifelong resident of the district, and is the only candidate in the race not doing so to simply see a raise in pay. You know, those career politicians.

Overlooked in Bice’s “crowded field” is a candidate who had announced plans to run against Dudzik while the other candidates, real and imagined, never considered the possibility.

Michael Sugden, Jr.

Michael Sugden, Jr.

He is Michael Sugden, Jr., 25, an accountant who announced in March, 2014, over a year before Dudzik’s death in May in a motorcycle accident. He had already branded his campaign as “Sugden 2016,” going so far as to print out T-shirts and signs with the slogan.

But now, he’ll be running in 2015, he says. In fact, Sugden, Lutz and Borkowski are the only three candidates to have taken out nomination papers by the close of business Wednesday.

Sugden writes to Urban Milwaukee about his 2016 t-shirts and plans to run in 2015.

“Yes the t-shirts will have to be put away for a little bit. … While we were not mentioned in the Bice article because we are not a “well known” candidate (as Bice told us) I am running in the special election.

“I am 25 years old. I grew up in West Allis. I went to St. Aloysius parochial grade school, West Allis Nathan Hale, and then took a partial scholarship to Robert Morris University Illinois where I played college hockey. I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a focus in Accounting. I am currently the head of accounting at Kasdorf, Lewis & Swietlik in Milwaukee.”

Sugden 2016.

Sugden 2016.

Sugden owns his own home in the 11th district and says he hopes to “to launch a community wide program known as SAFE (Secure And Friendly Environments) to help create and further develop community watch groups that are already in place,” like the Jackson Park Community Association. “Socially I am very liberal, fiscally I am very conservative, as most accountants are,” he adds. And we can’t resist adding the campaign logo he likes to include in messages:

What’s Next?
Candidates have until 5 p.m. June 23rd to submit between 200 and 400 valid signatures to appear on the ballot for this race. In the event that more than two candidates qualify, a special primary election will be held July 21st to select the two candidates who will square off on the special general election August 18th. The successful candidate will take office immediately after the election, and would serve until April, 2016, the remainder of the term left by Dudzik’s death. Presumably the victorious candidate (and perhaps a number of challengers) would choose to run for a full term in the primary election in February.

11 thoughts on “Plenty of Horne: Race for Dudzik’s Seat Could Get Heated”

  1. PMD says:

    Whoever campaigns on the dangers and foolishness of drunk driving would get my vote.

  2. Kyle says:

    Does an alderman have any power over drunk driving laws or enforcement? They might as well campaign on foreign policy…

  3. PMD says:

    Hey nitpicker. Thanks for the comment. I realize that. Senseless deaths due to drunk driving get me all worked up, which is why I posted that. But so glad you dropped by to nitpick, again, Always fun.

  4. Kyle says:

    Forgive me for missing the emphasis on drunk driving in this story. No matter how much a single issue riles you up, it doesn’t really matter in a race that has no influence on that issue. (And running on a platform of “the dead guy was an idiot” doesn’t usually work)

    I fought in Iraq. I don’t like that we got into there with no plan, got out with no plan, and now have to send people back in. But that doesn’t mean I’ll decide my vote for alderman based on that issue.

    And to answer your snide remark, yes I really do just drop in from time to time to try to irk you. Even in stories you haven’t commented in, I think to myself “how can I bother PMD with this?”. Hopefully whatever has you particularly worked up resolves itself soon.

  5. PMD says:

    I know you do Kyle. Everyone needs a hobby. And you are fully deserving of snide remarks. Thank you for your service.

  6. TF says:

    I like Sugden, but I doubt he has much of a chance. Carpenter is clearly the best choice. Borkowski is part of a woefully dysfunctional board and Lutz isn’t even worth discussing.

  7. RK says:

    Carpenter and the rest are old news. They should take their precious pensions and go home. Michael Sugden is the best choice!

  8. Bill Kurtz says:

    I thought Borkowski lived in Franklin. Is he moving into the city, or has he already done so?

  9. Jill says:

    Vote for Sugden. He’s the only one that was interested in running before it became an open seat. Would Lutz, Borkowski, and Carpenter have entered the race if they had to run against the incumbent (rest his soul)? Of course not. Sugden has obviously had ideas and a plan long before Dudzik’s passing. I’m eager to hear more.

    And if anyone is basing their vote on where these guys stand on ONE ISSUE (streetcar) that’s just moronic. The street car issue will die off eventually – so what about everything else the Alderman has to do for the people??

  10. Edward Susterich says:

    Mark Borkowski is also campaign treasurer for Chris Wiken, the Carpetbagger from Brookfield, who plans to oppose Ald. Terry Witkowski for the 13th District aldermanic position

    No streetcars run in Brookfield or Franklin, so there is much outsider support to prevent them from running in Milwaukee.

  11. FF Duane says:

    Lutz, Borkowski, and Carpenter weren’t running against Dudzik because they knew they would be wasting their time and money, Sugden was either just young and naive or trying to get his name out there for once Dudzik did retire.

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