Graham Kilmer

Nicholson Elected County Board Chairwoman

Marcelia Nicholson beats Willie Johnson, Jr. out for leadership of the county board.

By - Apr 24th, 2020 02:52 pm
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Marcelia Nicholson. Photo from Milwaukee County.

Marcelia Nicholson. Photo from Milwaukee County.

Supervisor Marcelia Nicholson was voted chairperson of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors Friday, making history as the first African-American woman to hold the position.

In an 11-7 vote, Nicholson won the position over Sup. Willie Johnson, Jr. Beyond serving as the official representative of the board, the chair runs meetings of the full board and has authority over committee appointments.

Nicholson, first elected in 2016, won the vote with support from supervisors Sequanna Taylor, Felesia Martin, Sylvia Ortiz-Velez, Ryan Clancy, Liz Sumner, Jason Haas, Sheldon Wasserman, Steven Shea, Eddie Cullen and Shawn Rolland.

Johnson got the votes of supervisors Tony Staskunas, Supreme Moore Omokunde, John Weishan, Jr., Patti Logsdon, Joseph Czarnecki and Russell Goodwin, Sr.

Along with being a county supervisor, Nicholson is the Vice-President of the Milwaukee Area Service and Hospitality Union, which, among other places, represents the service workers at the Fiserv Forum.

Nicholson is a graduate of the Milwaukee Language School and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Before she was elected to county office, Nicholson was a teacher for Milwaukee Public Schools.

Sup. Sequanna Taylor nominated her colleague for the position of board chair, saying that Nicholson has long served the Milwaukee community, first as a teacher and now as an elected representative. She called Nicholson a “pillar of the community” and noted that she grew up in Milwaukee’s 53206 ZIP code. The ZIP code has gained national notoriety for having the highest incarceration rate for African American males. 

Taylor said the new chairwoman shows, “regardless of what zip code you come from you can be successful and you can overcome every barrier that’s thrown in your way.”

Taylor was unanimously elected as first vice-chair of the board Friday. And Sup. Steven Shea was elected to the position of second-vice chair.

“I’ve been humbled and honored to receive the expressions of support and encouragement from many of you in recent days and over the past weeks and several months,” said Nicholson after the vote.

The new chairwoman laid out a number of assurances to the new board. Nicholson said she would work to protect the county’s public assets, such as parks and cultural institutions. She also pledged to protect county employees, “who are at the heart of everything we do.”

She encouraged the board to “put racial equity at the center of our efforts as policymakers,” saying she hoped the board would make it a shared goal to see the county become the “healthiest county in Wisconsin.” A clear nod to the county’s declaration that racism is a public health crisis.

Nicholson also thanked Johnson for his years of service, saying “I have deep admiration and respect for your work.” Johnson has been on the board since 2000.

The board was previously led by Theodore Lipscomb, Sr. who gave up his board seat in an unsuccessful run for Milwaukee County Executive. Nicholson was previously vice-chair.

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Categories: MKE County, Politics

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