Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service

What’s On the Mind of Voters

Reporters asked residents across the city. Here’s what they said.

Photo courtesy of NNS.

Photo courtesy of NNS.

‘The idea of “self” has turn to selfishness’

Esperanza Gutierrez. Photo courtesy of NNS.

Esperanza Gutierrez. Photo courtesy of NNS.

Name: Esperanza Gutierrez

Age: 68

Neighborhood: Near South Side

What she said: I live in the near South Side neighborhood of Lincoln Village and I have gone around our sun for 68 years. I have voted in almost all elections since I took the oath of citizenship for the U.S., from local to state to national elections.

The most striking difference in this and last presidential elections is this accusation: “If you do not vote for the right party, you are not a patriot.” Some opposing candidates are demonized. Their character is sabotaged through rumors and dark money. I believed that people run for office to serve their country and just had different solutions to issues. Yet, people of different faiths, countries of origin, gender or whom one loves are portrayed as less than worthy of the American dream.

The idea of “self” has turn to selfishness. This saddens me so.

America is not perfect, but it worked with its Constitution toward that dream for all. That has been and is my priority — respecting each other’s rights to be equal, protecting health and education, pursuing justice, fixing our immigration systems and creating an expanding middle class.


We need to address the pandemic, unify the nation

Zakiya Courtney. Photo courtesy of NNS.

Zakiya Courtney. Photo courtesy of NNS.

Name: Zakiya Courtney

Neighborhood: Sherman Park

Age: 67

Have you voted or are you voting?

Yes. I early voted the week before last.

If you have voted in the past, how has this election been different from others?

This election is different because the impact of who is the president for the next four years will directly affect the mental and physical well-being of all people in the U.S. — positively or negatively.

What issues are important to you that you feel need to be addressed?

The issues that are most important to me are controlling and resolving the pandemic. This includes providing additional stimulus support to those in need, including small and cottage businesses.

We also need additional funding for Social Security and tax relief for middle- and low-income people. I’d like to see relief on student loan debt, as well as free or debt-free options for post-secondary education, including skill training.

If you were elected president what would be your priority?

My priorities would be addressing the pandemic and unifying the nation.


‘We need a leader who can run this country for all’

Anna Maria Contreras. Photo courtesy of NNS.

Anna Maria Contreras. Photo courtesy of NNS.

Name: Anna Maria Contreras

Neighborhood: Riverwest

Age: 63

Have you voted or are you voting?

Yes. I voted the very first day of voting in person.

If you have voted in the past, how has this election been different from others?

I have been voting for many years. This election has been different than any other because we have someone in the White House who is unfit to be a leader of this nation. We need someone to work for all of us, not just his rich buddies.

What issues are important to you that you feel need to be addressed?

Issues that are important to me are this virus that’s killing so many, jobs and finding leadership in this country. We need a leader who can run this country for all.

If you were elected president, what would be your priority?

I could never be president of this country, nor I would want to . . .  but thanks for asking.

–Compiled by Adam Carr


‘The democracy of our nation is on the line’

Wanda Booker. Photo courtesy of NNS.

Wanda Booker. Photo courtesy of NNS.

Name: Wanda Booker

Age: 60

Neighborhood: Capitol Heights

Have you voted or are you voting?

I requested an absentee ballot in early September.  I personally dropped the completed ballot off at the drop box outside of City Hall two weeks ago.

If you have voted in the past, how has this election been different from others?

I have consistently exercised my civic duty to vote since I turned 18. I consider myself an independent voter, but this is by far the most polarizing election of my lifetime.  It seems like we have lost our ability as a nation to disagree but still be able to work together toward common goals.

What issues are important to you that you feel need to be addressed?

I think the democracy of our nation is on the line. In the past, the three branches of government have provided checks and balances on the president to curb the abuse of power. It is frightening to know that the commander in chief has no restraints. It is also critical that the U.S. get COVID-19 under control so that people can safely return to work, school and play.

If you were elected president, what would be your priority?

If I were elected president, my first call would be for Americans to unite, especially on the common values that we all hold dear. It shouldn’t take another event like 9/11 to bring us together. I would enact a nationwide COVID-19 plan that would require masks for everyone and bring stakeholders together to develop state-by- state reopening plans to keep businesses running and return kids to school safely.


‘All presidential elections are important’

Everett L. Marshburn. Photo courtesy of NNS.

Everett L. Marshburn. Photo courtesy of NNS.

Name: Everett L. Marshburn

Age: 72

Neighborhood: South Side

Have you voted or are you voting?

I have already voted.

If you have voted in the past, how has this election been different from others?

All presidential elections are important, this one especially.

What issues are important to you that you feel need to be addressed?

Restoring honesty and integrity in government, especially in elected officials; social and economic justice.

If you were elected president, what would be your priority?

My two main priorities would be creating social and economic justice and restoring honesty and integrity in government.


‘On a mission to not be denied’

Name: Matthew L. Mixon

Age: 69

Neighborhood:  A Milwaukee native, he and his wife live on the city’s Northwest Side, near North 61st Street and West Calumet Road

Have you voted or are you voting?

I voted on the first day of early in-person voting, Oct. 20. I arrived before the polls opened and was 18th in line.

Behind me there were at least 30 people, but when I exited the library polling place there were at least 100 others in line. I considered voting by mail, but there’s something about standing in line with my neighbors, seeing folks I seldom see, waiting with common purpose to participate in our democracy.

If you have voted in the past, how has this election been different than others?

I’ve vote in EVERY election, but this was my longest wait. When forces try to hamper the voting process, I think Black people become more determined than ever. We stand in long lines, sometimes in the rain or cold; and there’s a solidarity about it.

I remember my first time voting for Barack Obama. It rained that morning where I was living, but folks showed up early anyway. There were smiles and quiet chat. This time, we were on a mission to not be denied. The feelings were similar but different.

What issues are important to you that you feel need to be addressed?

The Affordable Care Act is a critical piece of legislation for millions of people and it’s at the top of my list of reasons to vote for Joe Biden. I also believe Biden is invested in addressing global warming and restoring credible diplomacy in our dealings with other countries, many of whom have lost confidence in the stability of the United States. I think a Biden administration will also work to improve race relations and reconnect our country with efforts to deal with global warming.

If you were elected president, what would be your priority?

If I were elected president, I would concentrate first on dealing with COVID-19, then turn to economic recovery.

Other countries need to know we’re not hopeless, and our own people need to be able to trust our government again.

–Compiled by Damia S. Causey


‘We were caught off guard in 2016’

Kai Luanda Gardner Mishlove. Photo courtesy of NNS.

Kai Luanda Gardner Mishlove. Photo courtesy of NNS.

Name: Kai Luanda Gardner Mishlove

Age: 55

Neighborhood: Sherman Park

Have you voted or are you voting in this election?

I already voted absentee and walked in my ballot

If you have voted in the past, how has this election been different?

The stakes are high in this election. I feel that we were caught off guard in 2016 and didn’t expect the outcome result would be the presidency of Donald Trump and all of the elevated dysfunction and chaos that has ensued negatively affecting and or threatening sustainable healthcare, minority group rights, immigrant rights, our economy, our environment and our global perception.

What issues are important to you that you feel need to be addressed?

Important issues that need to be addressed are affordable healthcare, decline of economies and employment in urban and rural areas, the historical and continued disenfranchisement of so many groups, immigrant rights, refugee resettlement, strengthening public education, protection of our environment, eliminating income inequality and revamping our tax system, which currently benefits the wealthy and corporations while penalizing and further disenfranchising the poor working and middle class. We need living wages and home ownership. We need an education system that educates our children regarding issues that have  been sanitized and/or omitted such as the long-term effects of Indigenous genocide, slavery and Jim Crow, discrimination via employment and housing policies, redlining and restrictive housing covenants. The effects of mass incarceration on communities.

We need a re-evaluation of our justice and police systems and analysis of why we have over militarized our police. The erosion of a clean environment and protection of the natural resources of our earth is causing illness.

We need to address all of these issues in a root cause analysis type of way.

The current administration has almost destroyed the refugee resettlement program through the promotion of xenophobia in the general public that supports a reduction of refugee resettlement numbers and a decrease in funding.  The USA was previously regarded as a safe haven for refugees.

If you were elected president, what would be your priority?

I would never run for president LOL but to answer your question, if I were president , my top priority would be eliminating the cages at the border and reuniting the 545-plus kids separated from their parents complete with mental health services, an official apology and reparations.

An official apology and reparations to the Black community from the U.S. for participation in the African slave trade, Jim Crow and segregation.

An official apology and reparations to the Indigenous Native American community for their genocide. Increase the presidential determination ceiling for refugee numbers and further welcome of refugees and immigrants and community bridge-building between new immigrants and refugees with existing communities.

My other priority would be rebuilding cities and rural areas by massive economic and social capital investment that promotes an active labor force with livable wages, home ownership and cross community collaboration and engagement. My other priority would be to eliminate xenophobia and promote cross cultural appreciation and love of each other.

–Compiled by Ana Martinez-Ortiz


Terrence Moore, Jr. Photo courtesy of NNS.

Terrence Moore, Jr. Photo courtesy of NNS.

‘Social justice and change’

Name: Terrence Moore, Jr.

Neighborhood: East Town

Age: 21

Have you voted or are you voting?

I am voting, this is my first time

What issues are important to you that you feel need to be addressed?

The biggest issue that I feel needs to be addressed is the social justice system.  There are many times where a minority and a white person can do the same crime but get different times in prison.  Or a white person commits a crime such as murder, and a minority has a drug charge. However, the minority will receive a harsher sentence.

If you were elected president, what would be your priority?

If I was elected president my priority would be social justice and change.  Not just for African Americans but for Americans everywhere because we all do struggle, and more often than not, there are instances where a group of people are criminalized and almost degraded due to their beliefs or mere existence.


‘A life-changing and monumental experience for African Americans’

Name: Joshua Moore

Joshua Moore. Photo courtesy of NNS.

Joshua Moore. Photo courtesy of NNS.

Neighborhood: East Village

Age: 25

Have you voted or are you voting?

Yes, I have voted already.

If you have voted in the past, how has this election been different from the others?

This election is a life-changing and monumental experience for African Americans all over the country.  I feel like this election will be the deciding factor for African Americans, Latinx community and all other minority families.

What issues are important to you that you feel need to be addressed?

Education is an issue that has been heavily important to me since I was a kid.  The difference in learning and the type of learning experience between urban schools and suburban schools is tremendous.  From kindergarten to fourth grade I went to school in Milwaukee, and then I switched schools and transferred to Mequon. I noticed the gap between how much students are being taught and how they are being supported.  I was also labeled “slow” because I didn’t catch on to certain subjects quick enough.

If you were elected president what would be your priority?

If I was elected president, I would make sure that all urban schools get the proper funding to ensure student success, and I would ensure that justice is found for the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd.

–Compiled by Princess Safiya Byers


‘This is the most corrupt, unplanned election’

Iuscely Flores. Photo courtesy of NNS.

Iuscely Flores. Photo courtesy of NNS.

Name: Iuscely Flores

Neighborhood: Milwaukee’s South Side

Age: 24

Have you voted or are you voting?

I cannot vote.

If not, why?

I am undocumented.

If you have voted in the past, how has this election been different from others?

I haven’t voted, but on April 7 and Aug. 11, I distributed PPE and can attest that this is the most corrupt, unplanned election I have helped observe in the past six years.

What issues are important to you that you feel need to be addressed?

Immigration, redistribution of wealth, raising the minimum wage and national efforts to prevent the spread of COVID.

If you were elected president, what would be your priority?

Reparations to all my Black siblings and sisters and giving land back to Native tribes. I would also dismantle trickle-down economics and Reaganomics, make the minimum wage reflect each individual state’s needs, free children from cages at the border, reunite them with their loved ones, offer asylum to everyone currently in the U.S., loosen the requirements to apply to DACA, dismantle the prison industrial complex, unarm police, keep the National Guard at a minimum and strengthen all treaties with pro-democratic countries.


Darrin B. Madison, Jr. Photo courtesy of NNS.

Darrin B. Madison, Jr. Photo courtesy of NNS.

Name:  Darrin B. Madison, Jr.

Neighborhood: Rufus King

Age: 23

Have you voted or are you voting?

Yes.  I voted absentee.

If you have voted in the past, how has this election been different from others? 

The urgency of now is in this election.

What issues are important to you that you feel need to be addressed?

The ability to flip the Senate and the presidency with candidates closer to Black liberation, women’s choice, environmental sustainability and LGBTQ rights is critical especially with a nation filled with righteous fury. That’s why I’m in Alaska working to flip a Senate seat.”

If you were elected president, what would be your priority?

If I was president, I would prioritize legislation creating green jobs, abolishing the youth justice system, offer clean energy industry training, and realistically explore the abolishment of our current policing model.


‘Filled with anxiety and fear’

Anthony Espinoza. Photo courtesy of NNS.

Anthony Espinoza. Photo courtesy of NNS.

Name: Anthony Espinoza

Neighborhood: Bay View

Age: 30

Have you voted or are you voting?

Yes.

If you have voted in the past, how has this election been different from others?

First and foremost, I was not a father in 2016 and since becoming one, I just cannot help but be filled with anxiety and fear of what four more years of this administration would mean for me and my family’s health. This president and his enablers have shown such a blatant disregard for human life, especially for Black and brown folks.

What issues are important to you that you feel need to be addressed?

So many issues. Our response to the pandemic and the destruction it’s caused to our communities (in particular communities of color), the inequities in our healthcare system, climate change, government structure/corruption, child care, right-wing extremism and the threat these groups pose to our democracy.

If you were elected president what would be your priority?

My priority would be to address the racial inequality that’s rampant in our country. I believe all other issues intersect with this one and so by making this my top priority I could address so many more.


‘America is a big business deal’

Name:  Theresa Torres

Neighborhood: Dineen Park

Age: 49

Have you voted or are you voting?

Yes.

If you have voted in the past, how has this election been different from others?

It is more life changing than ever.  I feel like America is a big business deal and isn’t addressed properly.

What issues are important to you that you feel need to be addressed?

Healthcare, racial injustice, economy, truth, advantages of other cultures, too many to name.

If you were elected president, what would be your priority?

I’m not sure. There is so much that is a mess. Everyone deserves the right to be able to be comfortable and live.

–Compiled by Sam Woods

This story was originally published by Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, where you can find other stories reporting on fifteen city neighborhoods in Milwaukee.

More about the 2020 General Election

Read more about 2020 General Election here

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