Learn more about the many races and candidates for this overlooked election
Lost in the maelstrom engulfing national politics and your Facebook feed, a statewide election is taking place Tuesday in Wisconsin. Milwaukee residents will have a number of contested races on their ballots.
The top of the ballot race is an increasingly partisan race for Wisconsin State Superintendent of Public Instruction. A county-wide election for Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Branch 47 will leave voters with a choice between two candidates vying for an open seat. A city-wide election for Municipal Judge Branch 1 (of 3) features two candidates vying for a role dispensing justice on everything from parking tickets and public intoxication to slumlords and speeders. Voters will also find a number of uncontested races on their ballot.
A number of Milwaukee Board of School Directors seats have contested elections. Voters living in those districts will have an extra choice to make when they cast their ballot.
One non-binding referendum question will also greet county voters: “Do you support County Executive Chris Abele’s proposal for a $60 Vehicle Registration Fee (wheel tax) to provide designated funding for transit and transportation-related projects?” The 2017 Milwaukee County budget implemented a $30 vehicle registration fee.
On Tuesday, April 4th polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. Find your polling place, registration status and see a sample ballot on the state’s My Vote Wisconsin website.
Want to continue to complain about politicians on Facebook? Do the right thing and vote Tuesday.
Urban Milwaukee does not make election endorsements. Candidates are presented in alphabetical order.
State Superintendent Candidates
What the office does: The non-partisan State Superintendent of Public Instruction is the head of public education in Wisconsin. In addition to leading the Department of Public Instruction, the superintendent is charged with licensing teachers, dispensing federal aid for schools, overseeing the reporting of school statistics including attendance and academic performance, and creating models for academic standards.
Term length: Four years
Dr. Tony Evers was elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction for Wisconsin in April 2009. With more than 30 years of public education experience, he has dedicated his life to public education in our state.
Born and raised in Plymouth, Wisconsin, Tony graduated from Plymouth High School, and went on to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1973, a master’s degree in 1976 and a doctorate in 1986. Tony Evers has been married 36 years to his wife Kathy, who he met at Plymouth High School. The Evers have three adult children, Erin, Nick and Katie, all public school graduates, and four grandchildren.
Tony Evers has served the students, parents and citizens of Wisconsin for over 34 years as a teacher, principal, superintendent, regional administrator, and Deputy State Superintendent. He has served in schools and lived in communities across Wisconsin, from Tomah to Oakfield, Verona to Oshkosh.
From 2001 to 2009, Dr. Evers served as Deputy State Superintendent of Public Instruction, working to ensure a quality education for students across Wisconsin and supporting parents and educators. From 1992 to 2000, Tony was the chief administrator of Cooperative Educational Service Agency 6, based in Oshkosh, which serves 42 school districts in east central Wisconsin.
Prior to that position, Tony was superintendent of the Verona and Oakfield school districts, and was a high school principal, elementary school principal, teacher of gifted and talented children, and technology coordinator in Tomah.
On a national level, Tony has been a curriculum auditor in Texas, California, Indiana, Kansas and Ohio. He is also a member of the Council of Chief State School Officers, and was honored by being elected to serve as the national president of the Deputy State Superintendent Leadership Commission by education leaders from all 50 states.
I am a Wisconsinite, born and raised, and have been married to my high school sweetheart, Sue, since 1980. We have five children who attended both parochial and public schools. Like many of you, we were ‘choosy’ in that regard, always trying to find what’s best for each child. In 2004, Sue and I both earned our Educational Doctorate Degrees in Leadership, Learning and Service, from Milwaukee’s Cardinal Stritch University. Previously, while working on my Masters in Education from UW – Madison, I served as a police officer in Whitewater during my spare time.
My education experience exceeds 30 years and includes teaching at a small parochial school in Minnesota, serving as an elementary and middle school principal in Cambridge, and being honored as a Wisconsin Principal of the Year and National Distinguished Principal in Peshtigo. I have also served as a superintendent or district administrator in the Palmyra-Eagle, Beloit and Whitnall school districts, covering a wide and diverse spectrum of rural, urban and suburban communities.
While serving those schools and districts, I have:
- Raised test scores in all districts and schools served by collaborating with teachers, administrators and parents
- Collaborated with business, industry and community to
- Create a regional, multi-district career and technical education academy
- Launch annual business/education summits
- Create charter schools
- Partnered with a team of parents and community members to build one of the state’s finest high school athletic complexes without raising taxes
- Led successful urban school reform effort, drastically reduced violence, returned control of classroom to teachers, closed achievement gaps and increased graduation rates
- Consistently raised teacher satisfaction, pre- and post-Act 10
- Put systems and teams in place to consistently close gaps by raising academic achievement of all students
Municipal Judge Candidates
What the office does: According to the city website “The mission of the municipal court is to impartially adjudicate ordinance violation cases such that legal rights of individuals are safeguarded and public interest is protected.” The three judges that make up Milwaukee’s municipal court dispense justice one everything from speeding tickets and building code violations to shoplifting and assault and battery. Milwaukee municipal judges hear up to 60,000 cases a year, the highest total for any court in the state.
Term length: Four years
Since graduating from Marquette Law School, William Crowley has demonstrated a commitment to serving marginalized populations in the community. He began working as an attorney with Hudson Legal in 2011, working on a foreclosure review project for JP Morgan Chase Bank. In this job, he worked to ensure compliance with federal and state laws, and identify cases where a non-compliance issue existed, so a settlement could be reached with the owners.
In 2014, William joined the staff at Disability Rights Wisconsin, working as a Family Care and IRIS ombudsman, working with people with disabilities on Wisconsin’s long-term care programs. In this capacity, he has been an advocate for people facing denials or cuts to their essential long-term care related services, conducting investigations, negotiating, and assisting with appeals to the State. Also in this role, he serves on a number of committees, including working with local government and county transit officials on public transportation program implementation for people with disabilities.
Furthermore, since 2012 William has served on the Board of the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, most recently as its Affirmative Action Officer, working to cultivate a broad, representative membership on the Board.
William has spent many years as an advocate for people with disabilities. When he was just two years old, he was critically injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, killing his stepfather and mother, who was 8 months pregnant at the time. The crash left him paralyzed from the chest down, but did not injure his resolve to carry on with life and strive for success. William will use this determination and ability to persevere to bring about a more just and equitable Milwaukee Municipal Court.
You can often find William venturing to new establishments around town and attending many of our festivals and local events. He is also an avid competitor in one of Milwaukee’s local trivia leagues.
William hopes that you will join him in standing up for justice!
Judge Valarie A. Hill was elected to to the bench in the City of Milwaukee in April 2004. Prior to her election, she served as a Milwaukee County Judicial Court Commissioner, where she presided over thousands of misdemeanor, felony, traffic and small claims cases. Previously, Judge Hill served as a Deputy First Assistant, Senior Assistant and Assistant State Public Defender in the Milwaukee Trial Office where she was a member of the management team and handled thousands of criminal and administrative matters for indigent defendants. Judge Hill graduated from The Ohio State University and the University of Akron School of Law. She is active in numerous community based organizations and is a member of the Wisconsin, Milwaukee and National Bar Associations as well as the National Association of Women Judges.
Circuit Court Candidates – Branch 47
What the office does: The judges of the Milwaukee County Circuit Court are divided into five divisions: children’s, civil, family, felony and misdemeanor, with a number of subdivisions. The judges elected will preside over cases in a rotation ranging from divorce and child custody to murder and embezzlement.
Term length: Six years
My grandpa gave me my first job at his famous shoe store, Hecker’s Shoes, as a stock boy. Teaching me to be tough and fight hard, he promised me America was a country where no dream was impossible if you give an honest effort and earn it the right way. I never forgot that lesson.
As a boy I was obsessed with the Milwaukee Bucks. I was born in north Milwaukee County, a scrappy Jewish kid with his face half-frozen. Moebius Syndrome made it hard to learn how to speak, and paralysis froze my mouth and finer eye movement – my grandpa’s promise seemed like a fairy tale a million miles from my reality. I know the sting and real hurt of bullying and prejudice. This campaign is the first time I have had the opportunity to advocate and to discuss it publicly. With the help of public school teachers and years of dutiful practice, I became confident with spoken English. Thanks, interestingly, to a ventriloquist puppet and a kind speech pathologist. Attending University of Wisconsin – Madison for my undergraduate degree was a vital first step in earning and achieving my life’s goals. My grandpa’s words inspired me to become a decent basketball player in my youth, and later to pursue the law and build a family.
Since starting my legal career almost 30 years ago, I have dedicated my life to public service and giving back to Wisconsin. Since 1992, I have been a public educator and Adjunct at MATC Downtown Milwaukee, and I have served our community as Fox Point’s Municipal Judge for over 8 years. Being uniquely blessed, I am a successful downtown Milwaukee lawyer and I have a daughter at Nicolet High School where I proudly graduated from, and another soon on her way there in a few years. I am serious and committed to the law, fatherhood, and my faith. If I win Branch 47, everyone can expect a fair, impartial trial free of bias … even if you are a Chicago Bulls fan.
Attorney Yang believes that a fair justice system is one where those administering justice can distinguish between the unfortunate and the malicious.
Attorney Yang immigrated to the United States with her parents and siblings at the age of six. She credits her success to the generosity of her parents who taught her the value of hard work, in addition to the guidance and support of her 10 siblings. As a former refugee child, she benefited from the kindness of many people who helped her adjust to life in American society. This helped her expand her English vocabulary to more than just the word Pepsi, and achieve her dream of becoming a lawyer and making a difference.
She is the owner of Kashoua Yang, LLC, a law firm that concentrates on family law, family mediation, worker’s compensation, and social security disability. She has successfully litigated and settled many cases, both in circuit court and administrative proceedings. Attorney Yang is also a court appointed Guardian ad Litem (GAL) in family law cases involving custody and placement disputes. She has garnered numerous accolades for her work, including Super Lawyers Rising Star for years 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016; Association of Women Lawyers Pro Bono Award in 2016, Milwaukee Magazine Leading Lawyers in 2015, and Milwaukee Bar Association Messenger volunteer recognition in 2012.
Attorney Yang devotes her time to various pro bono activities. She is a board member and volunteer attorney with the Legal Options for Trafficked and Underserved Survivors (LOTUS), past volunteer attorney with Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic (MVLC), and legal clinics for Hmong speakers and at Voces de la Frontera. She has also helped in the Know Your Rights workshops and the Hmong American Peace Academy mentor program.
She is a board member of the State Bar of Wisconsin Lawyer Referral and Information Service Committee, president-elect of the Society of Family Lawyers, and an advisory committee member of the Hmong Milwaukee Civic Engagement Project. Attorney Yang belongs to the Leander J. Foley Jr. Matrimonial American Inn of Court, Milwaukee Bar Association, Wisconsin Asian Bar Association, Wisconsin Association of Worker’s Compensation Attorneys, Association of Women Lawyers, and the National Organization of Social Security Claimant’s Representatives.
Attorney Yang graduated from Lakeland College summa cum laude. After working several years for Kohler Company in Kohler, Wisconsin, she attended and obtained her law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School.
She and her husband live with their three daughters in Oak Creek. She loves goofing around with her daughters and in her spare time enjoys the challenges of CrossFit training.
Milwaukee Board of School Directors – District 4
What the office does: The Milwaukee Board of School Directors is the policy-making body for the Milwaukee Public Schools system, serving within the framework provided by law, the will of the local citizenry, and the ethics of the education profession. They have oversight on everything from district-wide policy and the MPS budget to hiring and firing of the superintendent and declaring the district a “sanctuary district.”
Term length: Four years
Aisha Carr, 4th District School Board candidate, currently serves as the Culturally Responsive Teacher Leader for the Milwaukee Public Schools District. Prior to serving in this capacity, Carr worked as an MPS Secondary Special Education Teacher and a Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee Community Learning Center Club Manager. Carr has experience in the areas of community organizing, educational policies and youth leadership and development.
Aisha Carr, a Milwaukee native, currently serves as the Culturally Responsive Teacher Leader for Milwaukee Public School’s James Madison Academic Campus. Prior to serving in this capacity, Carr worked as a Secondary Special Education Teacher for MPS while completing her two-year commitment for Teach for America; the Community Learning Center (“CLC”) Manager for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee; and, Legislative Assistant for Former State Senator, Russell Feingold. During her time as a CLC Director, Carr had the privilege of serving over 300 youth in the Milwaukee community, developing educational youth serving programs to build character and leadership; career and college readiness skills; promote healthy lifestyles by creating health and life skills programming, in addition to intensive and content specific tutoring, community service and civic engagement opportunities and conflict resolution tactics including restorative practices.
A single mother of a school-aged child, a first-generation, professional Graduate student, a product of foster-care and a single-father household, and lastly, a product of the public and private education sector, Aisha’s experiences and proven track record of success is an immediate result of her life’s story of pain, struggle, defeat, victories, education and success. Carr has devoted her entire professional career to the advancement of students of color, in the fight for racial and educational equity and justice.
Carr is a proud graduate of Marian University (Fond Du Lac, WI) where she earned her Bachelors of Science in Social Work. Carr completed the Special Education Teacher certification at Cardinal Stritch University and is currently completing her practicum for her Graduate studies with the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she will earn her Graduate degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis. Carr’s graduate research is centered around Restorative Justice and the School-to-Prison pipeline.
Carr currently resides in Milwaukee, WI with her beautiful daughter, Harmoni-Imani.
Annie Woodward is a community advocate with a passion for seeking higher academic standards for every child. She is a retiree from the Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services, having worked in the areas of mental health and social services from 1967 until 2001.
From 1993 until 2000, Ms. Woodward served on the Board of the Milwaukee Inner City Congregaations Allied for Hope (MICAH) and on that organization’s Economic Development Task Force and Health and Welfare Committee. Ms. Woodward served as Chair of Parkview South Neighborhood and as treasurer of the Mary Church Terrell Club, Inc. As a member of Calvary Baptist Church, she serves as a deaconess and as a womens’ class Sunday school teacher.
Ms. Woodward did her undergraduate studies in business management and communications at MATC, Alverno College, and Concordia University.
Milwaukee Board of School Directors – District 5
I have been an elected school board member for 8 years and serve as the board’s vice-president. My central focus has been to improve academic achievement for all students and enhance the quality of experience for every child. This includes working to educate the whole child by increasing access to the arts, music, physical education and extra-curricular offerings.
Most recently I have worked to strengthen staff training in cultural relevance and responsiveness. One component has been the creation of comparative ethnic studies with the goal of integrating it throughout the curriculum.
Presently I am working on an initiative to increase school readiness through advancing a city-wide literacy initiative for children from birth to 4 years of age. The goal is to embrace a deep appreciation for the critical first 2,000 days of a child’s life and help prepare young children to be ready for school so they will all have an equal chance. We want to unite the whole community—government, higher education, childcare and health care providers, parents, business, community, congregations, all schools—to come together to advance the health and learning of our youngest citizens.
I am a graduate of the University of Wisconsin and National Louis University. My undergraduate degree is in education, history, and political science; my masters’ degree is in education leadership. I taught high school in MPS for 15 years and was an administrator for two years. While serving on the MPS School board, I have also been an adjunct professor for the Marquette College of Education, teaching Schooling in a Diverse Society.
As a high-school teacher, I taught U.S. history, citizenship, world geography, world history, economics, and political science, as well as photography, video production, and physical science. I spent a number of his summers doing historical research to enhance my teaching. This included spending the summer of 1998 with the National Endowment for the Humanities at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., studying the Civil War, Reconstruction and the lives of Southern freed men and women.
I am an editor of Rethinking Schools. Since its founding, Rethinking Schools has grown into a nationally prominent publisher of educational materials. Most important, it remains firmly committed to equity and to the vision that public education is central to the creation of a humane, caring, multiracial democracy. While writing for a broad audience, Rethinking Schools emphasizes problems facing urban schools, particularly issues of race.
My parents ensured I received an excellent education as a child, and as a community stakeholder and parent of four, it is my duty to do the same for my children and your children.
I have your children’s education at heart, as it has been a vital role in my life. I am a proud MPS graduate from Milwaukee Trade and Technical High School, and I have earned three higher education degrees from Concordia University: Bachelor’s in Secondary Education & Broad Field Social Science; a Master’s in Reading Specialist; and a MBA in International Business and Risk Management. I am also a Certified Teacher through the Compton Program.
I have a strong history teaching reading and financial literacy and with that experience, here’s my Blueprint for Change:
- Ensure all Children can read by the end of 2nd grade. From the 2015-2016 WI DPI report card data only 20% of MPS students scored advanced and/or proficient in area of literacy. Research shows a direct correlation between literacy and incarceration rates. To increase the graduation rate, let’s increase the number of literate children.
- Strengthen the Curriculum. The MPS district received a score of 55.3% on the WI Department of Instruction Report Card, so let’s ensure all schools offer a vibrant and culturally responsive educational program that is accessible to all children, challenges and moves them forward in life, and offers effective interventions for any who are behind.
- Build a better Culture. I will create a stronger MPS by reengaging the communities surrounding our schools and reintroducing the neighborly feeling. Let’s also collaborate with choice and charter schools to identify what is working, and change what’s not.
- Engage the Community. We’ll engage businesses, schools and families to bring equity back into our schools.
It is imperative that the Board of Directors have a stake in the community that it serves. My family and I live and work in the 5th District, and I am running for Board of Director District #5. I look forward to earning your confidence and vote.
Milwaukee Board of School Directors – District 6
Dr. Báez has a doctorate from UW-Milwaukee in Urban Education with concentrations in Bilingual Education and school equity. Since the 1970’s, he has been involved in education in Milwaukee and nationally. He has also traveled to other countries to observe schools and understand better policies supporting children.
Dr. Báez has been a leader in bilingual and dual language education; he is one of the founders of the bilingual program in Milwaukee, and in many communities, nationally. He is among the national leaders advocating that this country is ready for multilingualism.
Because of his significant expertise in Latino issues and language education, he has been a keynote speaker and presenter in many national conferences. He has also been a college administrator, a professor and an author.
In the middle of the 1970’s he was a Parent Coordinator in MPS. He also was a coordinator in the National Origin Desegregation Assistance Center at UW-Milwaukee.
As an educator, Dr. Báez has taught many courses at UW-Milwaukee along with having served as Dean of Liberal Arts and Vice-President of Academic Affairs at the Milwaukee Area Technical College. Additionally, he was Dean of Faculty and Provost in Hostos Bilingual College in New York and most recently served as the Executive Director of Centro Hispano Milwaukee.
Three of his children graduated from MPS as well as one of his grandchildren; two are currently enrolled in MPS.
The Wisconsin Association for Bilingual Education has a state award name after him – The Tony Báez Advocacy and Leadership Award.
In 2014 he was the recipient of the state’s Martin Luther King Heritage Award
In 2015, he was awarded the City’s Frank Zeidler, Public Service Award. And has been the recipient of many other awards and recognitions locally and nationally.
Born and raised on the Southside of Milwaukee (in District 6), I attended Kagel Elementary and Lincoln Center of the Arts, graduated from Carmen High School of Science & Technology and went on to study at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee where I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Urban Studies and Business Administration. I was part of Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES) volunteered with the Southside Organizing Committee from 2011-2015 to organize college students and plan marches in an effort to support immigrant rights. I now work as the Community Outreach Manager at Layton Boulevard West Neighbors, where I collaborate with residents, youth, businesses and partners to attract investments into the local neighborhoods. My wife Rebecca Arcos and I are newlyweds, married on March 26, 2016. She has an MA in social work and runs La Luz del Mundo Family Services. My mother Maria Zuniga who raised me lives with my sisters, Sarai (age 13, Wedgewood student) and Ismerai (age 9, Alba student). We are faithful members of La Luz del Mundo Church.
Milwaukee Board of School Directors – District 7
Joey Balistreri is an educator and product of life-changing public school teachers. He’s not a politician nor partisan-politics insider. He and his husband live in the Jackson Park neighborhood with their two-year-old son, Liam.
Joey first came to Milwaukee in 2010 with his now-husband, Michael—a proud graduate of Rufus King High School. They met while both attending college in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Around the same time, Joey’s family disowned him for being gay, but luckily, the Balistreri family was there to welcome Joey with open arms. The rest is history—Milwaukee is home.
Joey Balistreri grew up in Virginia and attended public schools for his K-12 education. He was constantly guided, challenged, and pushed to be his best by dedicated public school teachers. It was in high school where Joey discovered his love for the arts. Joey attended George Mason University where he majored in violin performance. When Joey’s husband graduated from the United States Naval Academy, they were stationed in and relocated to Jacksonville, Florida. It was in Jacksonville where Joey began his teaching career as a Teach For America corps member. As a fifth grade math and science teacher, he worked to ensure all students were accepted for their true-self and able to achieve their best through high expectations.
After two years in Florida, and like most military families, the Balistreris relocated. This led Joey to Indianapolis where he stepped into the role of an Instructional Coach. While in Indy, Joey coached and managed a cohort of 25 teachers. In this capacity, Joey impacted over 1,000 students across Indianapolis Public Schools, ranging from kindergarten to eighth grade.
In 2015, Michael and Joey adopted their son, Liam, who was born with a rare physical disability. Having a son with special needs truly changed his perspective and passion for equal access for all children. Since becoming a parent, Joey has fought tirelessly to ensure Liam and other children with special needs receive the same opportunities as their peers.
After yet another military move, the Balistreris were finally able to move back home to Milwaukee—where Liam will attend the same elementary school as Michael, Milwaukee Spanish Immersion. As a former teacher, teacher coach, and parent of a special needs child, Joey has the passion and responsibility to make Milwaukee Public Schools the best option for all families.
I’m running for Milwaukee Public School Board of Directors because my success has been rooted in great education and I want all of our kids to have high-quality schools. As a school board director, I will advocate for the success of every child in the district through supporting our educators, strengthening our community partnerships, and protecting the future of public education.
In my current role, I am focused on expanding leadership opportunities for women in Academic Medicine at Medical College of Wisconsin.
As the Special Projects Manager at City Year Milwaukee, I worked on various responsibilities that included Organizational Change Management, Government Relations, Board Development, Staff Development, Office Management, Human Resources, Talent Acquisition and Strategic Planning.
During my time at City Year Headquarters, I was the center point for communication during City Year Tulsa’s startup phase. In this role, I worked directly on Corps Member/Staff recruitment, New Staff Orientation, New Office Setup, Brand Awareness, and significant troubleshooting on the ground in Tulsa prior to opening of the site and during the first few weeks.
My career has been founded in my personal service work. Before working on staff at City Year, I served two AmeriCorps service years as a Civic Engagement Corps Member at City Year Chicago and a Public Ally at Public Allies Milwaukee. Prior to my nonprofit work, I worked at a local church organizing domestic and international mission trips.