13th District Common Council Race
Seven candidates vying for seat long held by recently retired Terry Witkowski.
Residents of the city’s far South Side have plenty of candidates to choose from to replace their longtime representative at City Hall, Alderman Terry Witkowski. A primary is being held Tuesday, July 16th to narrow the non-partisan field to two candidates in advance of an August 16th special election.
Voters will find seven candidates on the ballot.
Below you’ll find basic information provided by the candidates themselves and a link to their website and Facebook page. And if you click on their name you’ll be brought to any stories written about the candidate. Candidates names are listed in the order they will appear on the ballot. For background on this race, see our column from May. Polls open at 7 a.m.
Find your polling place and see a sample ballot at My Vote Wisconsin.
I am happy to announce that I am running to be the next alderman of the 13th District, better known as the Garden District. I do so with a healthy sense of respect for the size of the shoes I look to fill. Before Alderman Terry Witkowski, there literally was no Garden District. In his fifteen plus years of stewardship, Alderman Witkowski brought people in the district together and established a record of accomplishments that should give any successor pause.
I have known Terry since 2007 when, with his help, I brought people together in my own neighborhood by founding and serving as the first president of the Wilson Park Neighborhood Association. Since 2015, I have served as his legislative aide, where I have attended countless neighborhood meetings and taken thousands of phone calls and emails from constituents. There is no better way—to my mind—to get to know a district, than to speak to its residents each day about the challenges they face and the vision they have for their neighborhoods.
I learned that I have a passion for solving problems and a talent for getting results. I have garnered a reputation for tenaciousness that has served our residents well, finding solutions where others have seen only roadblocks.
Should I be elected, I will continue to be a fierce advocate for the interests of the residents of the Garden District. We are the third-highest taxed district in the entire city, yet at times it feels like we have been neglected in the conversation. I will fight to make sure we have a seat at the table and a strong voice at City Hall.
My experience serving as legislative aide for Alderman Witkowski has also given me a deep knowledge of the workings of city government and the politics behind the scenes, all of which is needed to be an effective alderman. No other candidate will be as ready as I am right now to start leading on day one.
My priorities for the district include keeping our streets safe and pothole-free, making sure investment downtown does not come at the cost of the neighborhoods, being good stewards of the taxpayer’s dollars, and ensuring we maintain the quality-of-life events and activities that make the Garden District not only unique, but a great place to live, work, and do business. And I promise you this: No other district in the City will see the level of attention to constituent services that I will provide.
I have worked with every business group and neighborhood association in the district. I have spent years building the relationships, acquiring the knowledge, and garnering the trust needed to be an effective alderman. I look forward to the opportunity to continue to serve my friends and neighbors in the Garden District. Let’s keep our garden growing!
Patricia Torres Najera has lived in the 13th district for 35 years, and she’s a proven community leader and change maker. In the late 2000s, Patricia was the lead planner in facilitating discussion between seven communities around the Milwaukee airport. The discussions later led to the creation of the Aerotropolis Milwaukee. She has also worked on traffic mitigation near our schools, increasing safety for students.
Patricia has been on Milwaukee’s City Plan Commission for over 20 years and currently serves as its chairwoman. The Commission advises the Common Council on projects that involve zoning matters. During this work she has gained a strong understanding of both resident and corporate concerns, all while fighting for the best interests of Milwaukee.
Patricia has a PhD in Urban Studies from UWM, and she uses her skills and knowledge to help her community. As Director of Partnerships and Development at UWM’s Electa Quinney Institute for American Indian Education, Patricia works with the EQI team building an interdisciplinary group of scholars, students and community members to meet the needs of the Native American community in language preservation, education, health and wellness and many other issues.
Patricia’s goal is to bring great things to the 13th District: attract more business development and maintain our great schools, promote health and wellness, and ensure public safety. She also wants to improve city services and the quality of our city streets, and improve community engagement. Patricia is the visionary and hard worker we need in on the Common Council.
With the unexpected resignation of Alderman Terry Witkowski on Milwaukee’s South Side, former State Representative Josh Zepnick has decided to run for Alderman in District 13. The far south side district overlaps with just over half of the 9 th Assembly District which Zepnick represented from 2002-2018.
Milwaukee is at a crossroads with many exciting new developments happening. We also have large pockets of poverty, extreme gun violence and a disturbing pattern of disruptive behavior in every corner of the city, and broken roads with no serious plan in place to repair them.
“Too many South Side residents feel that the new economic investment either goes to really poor areas or already wealthy areas, with the middle ground often left paying more and more in taxes and fees,” said Zepnick.
1. Get debt under control, lower property taxes
Milwaukee deserves its fair share from State and Federal taxes that we pay. District 13 deserves its fair share of economic investment and employment growth from City programs.
2. Fixing our broken roads
Milwaukee deserves 21st century infrastructure that balances safety, mobility and being affordable.
3. Reducing gun violence and its partner in crime the opioid crisis
Our city is not unique. Too many people are not safe from the senseless violence from guns in the hands of the wrong people, reckless driving, and an opioid addiction crisis that is out of control.
I am proud to announce my candidacy for this seat, and I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce myself.
I am a graduate of Marquette University with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and serving my community as an elected representative has always been my goal. My family and I have been homeowners in the 13th District for close to 30 years and I have greatly enjoyed raising my family here in this wonderful community.
As for my experience, for the past 12 years, I have worked in the City of Milwaukee’s office of the Common Council and for the last 11 years, I have served the 8th Aldermanic District as Alderman Donovan’s Legislative Assistant. In that time, I have gained a strong understanding of the workings of City government and formed great working relationships with Council Members, elected officials at the County and State levels, City department heads, and all their hard-working supportive staff. I have also formed many strong relationships with the residents on the south side of Milwaukee and they know they can always count on me to get things done!
As your Alderwoman, I can promise you that I will do my best to seek your input on all important decisions brought before the Council and I will work hard to represent your interests in City government. My years of experience in working for Alderman Donovan and the residents of the District have taught me that prompt effective resolution to constituent concerns and the ability to apply a little common sense when voting on items before the Council are essential when it comes to effectively serving the community.
If I am elected as your representative, you will have someone who will hit the ground running, and I will fight to stop wasteful spending and focus our tax dollars on problems that have been neglected for far too long, like our crumbling roads and continued cuts to public safety. We live in a safe, clean, beautiful District and I will work hard to make sure our community continues to thrive!
Please allow me to introduce myself to you as both a neighbor and a candidate for Alderman of the 13th district. Although originally from Cedarburg, Wisconsin, four years ago I moved to Milwaukee for work. It was during this time that I attended the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. While my time in college helped expand my perspective and knowledge; becoming an Eagle Scout and a United States Marine has made the largest impact on my life. Through this, I have learned the difference between a good leader and a poor one. My time in the city has left me disappointed by the leadership’s effort matched with services we receive. This is why I would like to present myself to be the change I want to see in Milwaukee, instead of just hoping for it.
There are many issues that I want to focus on: including improper standards of roads and road repair projects, untimely garbage collection, and unsafe road plowing services. My primary concerns are services we have paid for are providing little direct benefit to those who have paid for them. The streetcar is an example of this, we in the 13th District helped to pay for the streetcar, yet the route doesn’t reach our homes or businesses – and there is no plan in place for it to ever do so. We paid for this, yet do not see the benefits that it would provide. I believe that everyone in our city should have access to public transportation; however, I also believe strongly in spending money where it is collected.
One of my biggest concerns has been and always will be the safety of our community. I support the work of our police officers and firefighters, some of whom are friends I made during my time in the Marine Corps. Personal friends or not, I believe all of them work to accomplish the same goal I have: a safe community. However, I know that a community’s safety is not just in the hands of the police and firefighters, it is up to each and every citizen to provide and maintain a safe environment. I believe that we can all work together towards this goal by establishing neighborhood watch programs where they do not currently exist. Many community members who I’ve met with have started their own unofficial programs to combat crime and suspicious activity in their neighborhoods. I believe that if we organize ourselves we can accomplish this in a simple and expedient way.
Finally, I believe that transparency is valuable and necessary. Each leader should show and be held accountable for the actions and goals they have met or failed to meet. Furthermore, everyone should know what services their alderman is providing. Are you aware of what your alderperson and city council accomplished today? How about this month or this year? The work of an alderman is rarely broadcasted, but as your alderman I want to eliminate any doubts by showing you exactly what has been accomplished. I intend to do this by making short videos to keep you informed and maintain an active presence both online and within the community. These videos will be shared with you online through District 13’s social media accounts. I’m hopeful that this can become an area in which citizens can ask questions, request resources for services, and allow the platform to grow where everyone in our community has a voice. Our district is made up of many peoples who all have their own priorities and vision of what they would like to see in the city. I want to make certain that everyone has equal representation and feel as if their voice is being heard.
I love my city and I love our neighborhoods. We have a lot to celebrate, but we also have many opportunities for improvement. I believe I can deliver results for the residents of District 13. My message is simple- “Safe, Vibrant, and Clean in District 13”.
Public safety improvement is a must for our neighborhoods. Speeding is out of control and many residents believe their neighborhood is less safe than it was 5, 10, or 15 years ago. We live in a technology age where neighbors can connect through local apps and various social media platforms. It is now easier than ever before to share what is happening in our neighborhoods. Anyone who is plugged into this new technology knows what is happening is rising crime. I support our Milwaukee Police Officers and know they work extremely hard. We are part of the largest police district by population and the second largest by land area, yet we have the fewest amount of assigned police officers in the city budget. We need more police resources.
The “vibrant” piece of my tagline relates to our business/entertainment environment which is in need of improvement. Our district has the potential to be a true destination for people from all over the area. Given our proximity to other municipalities, the Airport, Lake Michigan, and other popular Milwaukee neighborhoods we should be one of Milwaukee’s shining stars. Instead we have vacant businesses/buildings and overgrown lots in our main corridors. I plan to be extremely involved with the community, business owners, our local Business Improvement District (Gateway to Milwaukee), and other stakeholders to work on improving our business climate in District 13. We need more great businesses.
The final piece of my tagline is “clean”. We are known as the Garden District for our beautiful gardens, appreciation for nature, beautification efforts, and our innovative Green Corridor. As Alderman I will maintain all of these initiatives, and if both possible and a desire of the community, expand and grow them. We are the first impression of Milwaukee for people coming from all over the area, our state, our country, and even the world. As a community we need to make sure our efforts include making sure our entire district is clean and a great example of what Milwaukee has to offer. Not only do we deserve to look as great as we are, we all deserve to live in a clean community.
Love does not have a campaign website or Facebook page. He did not return an Urban Milwaukee request for comment by the time of publication.