Zepnick Announces Run for Milwaukee City Council
South Side Democratic Legislator remains focused on improving workforce development with good paying jobs, safe and sound neighborhoods, rebuilding Milwaukee’s public infrastructure, and maintaining a strong education system.
“Working together anything is possible and progress is unstoppable. Better days are ahead in Milwaukee and I am excited to make sure the South Side of Milwaukee shines brightly with a government we can afford and be proud of.”
Today, Democratic South Side State legislator Josh Zepnick announced his campaign for Milwaukee City Council, 12 months away from the April 2016 Election Day. Zepnick has represented 75% of the 8th Aldermanic District since 2002 and has strong roots and connections in the area.
“With the incumbent in pursuit of a new job as Mayor of Milwaukee, I am strongly focused on doing the hard work and providing 100%+ attention to the voters of the 8th district. I bring enormous experience and a passion for public service to this effort. Like my current position in the Legislature, I plan to listen and learn from constituents — many who have recently moved into the neighborhood and come from a diverse background of ethnicity and economics,” stated Zepnick.
“Getting things done in politics and government requires patience, getting along with others, and forging partnerships so that the District and the City move forward. Its not a debate club or a stage for daily news conferences only meant to stir up angry feelings on any given issue. The best work I’ve accomplished as a Representative in the State Capitol has been the result of a steadfast if not stubborn mandate to do the best job for citizens and taxpayers of the South Side. It involves working with people including political opposites and being willing to accept that I don’t always have the perfect answer to every problem but I’m willing to listen, and work together for progress.
Leadership requires working with those who you disagree with or do not like. It means finding common ground and common sense solutions to tough problems. Creating jobs, fixing our streets and infrastructure, keeping kids and neighborhoods safe, attracting new businesses, and making sure we spend taxpayers dollars responsibly all require compromise and consensus.
Standing around waiting for things to happen is not an option. Constantly throwing around false claims, political rhetoric, or personal attacks are things the public has no time for. Standing up for what you believe is the right thing to do. So is sitting down with others who disagree with you and finding a way to get the job done.
Taxpayers deserve it. Voters demand it. Zepnick will deliver and make sure the 8th District has the best neighborhoods in the City of Milwaukee.
Results Matter…Zepnick has worked hard to:
- help expand job creation and workforce development projects in the City of Milwaukee, including my service on the Governor’s Council on Workforce Investment– which, along with many City leaders in government, labor unions, and the business community, has helped to invest over $100 million into our local economy since 2006.
- secure transportation grants throughout Milwaukee County totalling over $12 million, including the Hank Aaron State Trail expansion, South 27th street and Layton Boulevard streetscaping improvements and bike lanes, remaking West National Avenue near S. 35th, and other pedestrian safety initiatives.
- increase independence, as Chairman of a special task force of the Council on Workforce Investment that brought over $2 million into Milwaukee agencies to help provide health care and job training to persons with disabilities. I grew up with a developmentally disabled sister and it is a privilege to be able to help foster self-sufficiency and independence no matter who you are.
- As the most senior Legislator on the Energy and Utilities committee, Zepnick worked on job creation and energy conservation projects that help save money on utility bills. Programs like ME2 and Focus on Energy are successful examples of housing improvement and neighborhood revitalization in the Layton Boulevard West Neighbors territory and the Clarke Square neighborhood.
A safe community requires more than government spending or more cops (both are critically important), it takes active residents, a healthy job market, housing improvements, and affordable taxes. Jobs and recreational opportunities for youth are critical to strong neighborhoods, especially during summer.
With older city infrastructure, I plan to take a page from Daniel Burnham and “Make no small plans.” One of the many great neighborhoods in the Layton Boulevard West network is named Burnham Park, in recognition of the 20th century urban pioneer. (the literal quote is “Make no little plans…”)
Milwaukee needs to speed up its local street improvements. Frankly, I wish we spent less time with DPW trucks going in circles giving people parking tickets when there is plenty of parking in Milwaukee, and instead focus on fixing potholes, curbs, and crooked sidewalks. Past Administrations wrongly eliminated city funding for tree root trimming and were slow to repair roads.
Those were penny-wise, pound foolish decisions based on misguided thinking, sticking it to homeowner’s for special assessments that are too expensive for most of us, so the sidewalks pop up making it dangerous and leaving a negative image on the entire block. I plan to examine all options including more flexible spending from the State and Federal government for local roads. Things like Neighborhood TIFs, BIDs, or Neighborhood Improvement Districts should be on the table for discussion.
This discussion will become even more critical as block after block in Milwaukee will eventually need to replace the sewer laterals connecting a house to the street sewers. That practice is very expensive if done only one house at a time and homeowners eat the costs.
Public transit is critical to a modern city. Many South Side residents completely rely on the County Bus system to get to work, school, doctor’s office, shopping, etc. Route 27 going down Layton Boulevard and South 27th street is one of the heaviest used routes in the entire County. As a Legislator, I have supported a regional transit solution that involves cooperation and collaboration with our suburban partners. We do this already with urban planning and research through SEWRPC and with sewer and water services via MMSD. The most successful metro areas have multi-modal networks that include: high-speed rail between major cities, commuter or interurban rail, streetcars, buses, bicycle facilities, and walkable, livable neighborhoods as well as roads and highways.
My focus as Alderman will be squarely on the 8th District citizens and taxpayers concerns. Regular listening sessions and office hours will be routine. “Bike and Walk in the neighborhood” sessions will help engage residents to get to know each other and address common problems.
“Treat others like you would like to be treated, an eye for an eye leaves the world blind, and the glass is always half full will be the kind of straightforward, common sense values I plan to bring to a job that I will be ready for on day one. Working together…anything is possible and progress is unstoppable. Better days are ahead in Milwaukee and I am excited to make sure the South Side of Milwaukee shines brightly with safe and sound neighborhoods, good-paying jobs, improved infrastructure, strong public schools and a government we can afford and be proud of.”
State Representative Josh Zepnick has strong roots in our community, born and raised on South 25th Street where his parents still live. Zepnick’s church Zion UCC was located for many years on S. 14th and Greenfield Avenue until a 1977 merger with its current location on S. 76th. During Zepnick’s childhood years, many weekends and Sunday mornings were packed with church activities. The Zepnick family and their church were very active in community service. The Greenfield Avenue parish hall was used for a daily Head Start program serving about 45 children. In cooperation with the Milwaukee Christian Center, recreation and craft programs were routine. Zion Church was instrumental in establishing Journey House, which offered tutoring, counseling, and classes for area residents, youth activities, and summer day camps.
Since the 2011-12 Redistricting pushed by Republicans, Zepnick and his wife Barbara had to sell the family house in Jackson Park, owned by three generations. Due to the recovering housing market, selling the house has not been an easy task. As the most Senior Legislator on the Assembly’s Financial Institutions committee, Zepnick has played a strong role in helping the City of Milwaukee rebuild from the crash of the real estate market and the large number of foreclosures dragging down family incomes and entire neighborhoods.
Zepnick’s Legislative District goes from Layton Avenue north through the Southgate/St. Lukes area and includes the entire Layton Boulevard West Neighbors territory and Clarke Square all the way to the Menomonee Valley.
Zepnick has played an active role in various community organizations since elected in 2002. From LBWN to Southside Organizing Committee to the Zilber Family’s Clarke Square Initiative, Journey House, Boys and Girls Club, etc. The grandson of an immigrant who did not speak English at first, Zepnick has taken a leadership role working on fairness and equality for all.
Working with Latino, Hmong, Sikh Indian community leaders and many other new Americans, Zepnick has worked tirelessly to make sure that law-abiding, hard-working Milwaukee residents can establish a safe and common sense pathway to becoming an American.
Zepnick helped establish the first ever legislation so that the kids of undocumented parents can obtain “in-state” tuition rates for going to college, so long as they have pending paperwork with the Federal government, are paying taxes already, and the students meet the grades and academic criteria.
Governor Walker and the Republican Majority wiped that out in 2011 calling it a handout for criminals. I call it a reward for hard work and belief in the American Dream.
At first, Republicans recently blocked funding for the Milwaukee Police Department. Zepnick played a leading role calling on Governor Walker to reverse his opposition. The City’s “ShotSpotter” project uses cutting-edge technology to identify within seconds the location of gunshots in higher-crime neighborhoods. We want to expand this to as many areas as possible including Milwaukee’s South Side. This allows the Police to quickly respond and eventually change enforcement patterns to weed out the illegal gun activity and violence. Zepnick was the lead Democrat to forge a bipartisan solution and restore $250,000.
Common sense gun regulations that do not infringe on the right to legally, safely carry a gun are long overdue in our city. Zepnick has supported legislation to close loopholes for sales at gun shows and fought the NRA when it came to people with multiple criminal convictions still being able to legally purchase a handgun.
Keeping the 48 hour waiting period and implementing a common sense background check so that criminals or those with severe mental illness issues do not have access to guns are simple, cost-effective ways to slow the illegal gun trade that takes too many innocent lives in Milwaukee each and every year.
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