Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

Johnson Chooses Powerful Committee Chairs

Not every supporter rewarded. New council president says picks reflect experience, not politics.

By - Apr 28th, 2020 02:36 pm
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Milwaukee City Hall. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee City Hall. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee Common Council President Cavalier Johnson announced his committee assignments and with that laid out part of how he became president and how he plans to unify the council.

The council president has the unilateral ability to designate committee assignments and with that provide powerful chair positions. The chair of each committee sets the agenda, runs the meeting and has an outsized influence on what issues get addressed. Chairs also get increased media exposure and depending on the committee can leverage their post to raise campaign funds. Collectively the chairs also form the Steering & Rules Committee which often ends up addressing major issues, including investigations into other city departments.

Johnson won the council presidency on an 8-7 vote against Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs, but awarded those that voted for him with only four of the seven chairs.

Johnson’s picks include those that backed him, including veteran Robert Bauman and newcomer Marina Dimitrijevic, as well as those that opposed him, including opponents Ashanti Hamilton and Coggs.

Johnson told Urban Milwaukee he made his selections based on experience with the issues before each committee, not political expediency. “I know that during my ascension to the presidency there were questions about my experience,” said Johnson, 33, who was first elected to the council in 2016. He said his decisions reflect experience, not political expediency.

“I am excited that loyalty is not the main criteria President Johnson is making decisions with,” said Alderman Nik Kovac who voted for Johnson, but now doesn’t have a chairmanship. He praised Johnson for focusing on unifying the council. “The mending of fences is probably the most important issue,” said the alderman. Kovac, who also started the last council session in 2016 without a chair, noted that the council had also been divided after the vote to elect Hamilton in 2016, but it became much more public this time.

Hamilton publicly challenged Johnson to unify the council after Johnson beat out Hamilton and later Coggs for the post.

“I am hoping that as we move forward we are not just calling on reunifying, we are calling with rectifying what causes this division,” said Hamilton. “As my first word of advice, it starts at the head. I am hoping that there is a recognition of this historical moment and what’s necessary to right the ship going forward.”

Hamilton is now chair of the Judiciary and Legislation Committee and Coggs will lead the Licenses Committee. Khalif Rainey, also a Coggs backer, has been switched from his role as chair of the Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee to Community and Economic Development.

Jose G. Perez takes over as head of the powerful zoning committee. Michael Murphy is back as head of the finance committee, a position he held before becoming council president in 2014. Bauman is back as Public Works Committee chair.

Dimitrijevic, who as a newly-elected official represented a key swing vote, will lead the Public Safety & Health Committee.

Mark Borkowski and Russell W. Stamper, II, both of whom backed Coggs, were the other two council members to lose their chairmanship alongside Kovac in the reshuffling.

A full list of assignments is included below:

Community & Economic Development Committee

Finance & Personnel Committee

  • Murphy (chair)
  • Scott Spiker (vice chair)
  • Kovac
  • Zamarripa
  • Coggs

Judiciary & Legislation Committee

  • Hamilton (chair)
  • Dodd (vice chair)
  • Spiker
  • Bauman
  • Murphy

Licenses Committee

  • Coggs (chair)
  • Kovac (vice chair)
  • Borkowski
  • Dodd
  • Lewis

Public Safety & Health Committee

  • Dimitrijevic (chair)
  • Lewis (vice chair)
  • Borkowski
  • Spiker
  • Rainey

Public Works Committee

  • Bauman (chair)
  • Borkowski (vice chair)
  • Zamarripa
  • Perez
  • Stamper

Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee

  • Perez (chair)
  • Coggs (vice chair)
  • Bauman
  • Hamilton
  • Dimitrijevic

Steering & Rules Committee

  • Johnson (chair)
  • Murphy (vice chair)
  • Hamilton
  • Bauman
  • Coggs
  • Perez
  • Rainey
  • Dimitirjevic

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Categories: City Hall, Politics

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