Michael Horne
Plenty of Horne

Kenney Targets Ald. Borkowski

Should challenger win, would be only military veteran on Common Council.

By - Feb 24th, 2016 12:36 pm
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Tim Kenney. Photo by Michael Horne.

Tim Kenney. Photo by Michael Horne.

Of the 15 members of the Milwaukee Common Council, none are military veterans. Tim Kenney, 35, hopes to be the exception if he is successful in his challenge to Ald. Mark Borkowski, who has represented the 11th Aldermanic District since a special election last August held to replace the late Ald. Joe Dudzik. Another military veteran, Chantia Lewis, is running against Ald. Robert Puente, which increases the chance of thereby diversifying the council.

Kenney is a civilian employee of the Defense Department who previously served two tours overseas in combat zones for the Air Force, according to his biography. He continues as a member of the Wisconsin Air National Guard and is volunteer treasurer of the Milwaukee Homeless Veterans Initiative.

Kenney held a downtown fundraiser February 18th at The Garden, 727 N. Milwaukee St. The door was guarded by his young twin sons. One handed out name tags, while the other handed out the candidate’s campaign literature. When I protested that I might have some difficulty filling out the name tag, I was sternly reproached that I should have learned how to spell my name “back in K-3!”

Duly abashed, I filled out the tag as neatly as possible and made my way into the facility. Kenney was chatting with Ald. Nik Kovac and Grace Fuhr, who were repaying the visit Kenney made to Kovac’s Roman Coin fundraiser a few days previously.

Kenney’s military service and the lack of veterans on the council may be a good selling point in the conservative south side district. Borkowski, a former longtime County Supervisor, has had a rocky start on the council, Kenney noted. What would you expect from “somebody who said, ‘I’m not here to make friends’?” Kenney asked. Kenney said he would rather work collaboratively with council members and his constituents.

Kenney said he would like to have a seat on the Community and Economic Development Committee should he prevail in the election. Borkowski sits on the committee, as does lame duck Ald. Joe Davis, Sr., who is not running for re-election. Other members include Alds. Russell Stamper and Tony Zielinski.

The day after the event, Kenney received the endorsement of the VoteVets PAC chairman Jon Soltz. “Milwaukee’s city council, unbelievably, currently has no veteran representation,” said Soltz. “It’s time to change that and bring a voice for the thousands of veterans residing in the City of Milwaukee by electing Tim Kenney as 11th District Alderman.”

The nonpartisan general election will be held April 5th.

Photos from the Event

Brief Transition Period on Council

Unlike the presidency, the interval between the election of aldermen and the time when they are sworn in to office is measured in days, not months. The Charter Meeting of the Common Council, at which elected members of city government take their oaths, takes place on April 15th, just ten days after the election.

City Clerk Jim Owczarski said he has fielded questions from candidates about when they would start their jobs. One, who lost in the primary, had thought he might have “four or five weeks” to settle his affairs. Not so! Things move very quickly. There will be at least two new faces on the council, with the retirements of Alds. Davis and Willie Wade, Owczarski said. New aldermen have to be quickly brought up to speed on the operations of their new place of employment, he said. This includes all the niceties of Robert’s Rules of Order, and the quaint rules and customs of our city’s legislative body.

The charter meeting of the council, held every four years, is an elaborate affair, with City Hall dressed up in bunting and plants and flowers from the municipal greenhouses. There is usually a spread of food for the guests. This is also the time when you get to see the families of aldermen and other elected officials to see where these people are coming from.

The Common Council, at the charter meeting, takes care of a couple of items of business. First, after the swearing in, is the selection by the aldermen of their president.

That job is now held by Ald. Michael Murphy, who told me Monday at City Hall that he intends to run for the position again, as expected. “No news there,” he said. Since the majority of the members of the council are almost certainly likely to be re-elected, it would appear Murphy has his votes lined up. No other candidate has raised a challenge to him. This is probably good news for any newly elected aldermen, who might cast their first vote for somebody who would go on to lose the vote for council president, always a bad start.

The next matter of business at the meeting is the selection of the Common Council Clerk, who is chosen by the members to serve a four year term. Owczarski plans to offer his name for the position once again, he says. His selection is likewise seen as most likely.

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