State Superintendent, County Board and School Board on the Ballot
Non-partisan, education-centric primary kicks off spring election season.
The February 16th non-partisan primary doesn’t feature a marquee race for president, nor is it a winner takes all situation. But some of the winners that advance will have a major role in setting education policy, both at the local and state level.
The primary will see the top two vote-getters in each race advance to the April 6th general election.
But depending on where a voter lives, voters may also see three other races on their ballots.
There are two primaries for seats on the Milwaukee Board of School Directors. The school board seats are up on a rolling basis and two of the four seats up in 2021 have enough candidates for a primary election.
A five-way special election primary will appear on the ballot of some northside voters to select a new representative to serve on the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors. Supreme Moore Omokunde previously held the seat, but was elected in 2020 to fill a seat most recently held by Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley.
Curious what’s on your ballot or where to vote? Check the My Vote WI website.
Candidates are listed alphabetically, with biographies provided. Urban Milwaukee does not make endorsements.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
I was a first generation college student, and when I left home to attend university my plan was to go into business. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was leadership that I was actually looking for.
During my freshman year, I had the opportunity to earn extra credit by volunteering as a tutor. I began working with a little girl who had a disability and I became obsessed with figuring out how to have an impact on her learning. I created materials, brought games, and came up with unique lesson plans. One day we had a breakthrough. I don’t remember exactly what she learned, but I do remember the look on her face – and I remember how it made me feel.
And that moment . . . when I could see the joy of learning in her eyes . . . changed my life forever. I decided to become a teacher, and I’ve spent every day of my professional career working to make an impact on our children and see that same joy in their eyes. I believe that teaching is the most important and inspiring profession in the world.
I’ve learned so much since that time, and I am proud to be an educational leader who will always put the needs of our students above all else. By nature, I am a positive person who looks for the good in everyone and always strives to grow. I am happiest when I am surrounded by people whose experience, background, and perspectives are different than mine so we can collaborate on solutions that will improve life for all of us. Every job I’ve taken over the course of my career has been about broadening my impact on students.
Unfortunately, there is still work to do. These days I am losing sleep because we’re not meeting the needs of each and every one of our students in Wisconsin. I am unapologetic about my equity focus and dedication to providing all students with what they need to succeed. I approach this mission with fierce urgency and hope to achieve it in the only way I know how: by bringing people together.
I’m Joe Fenrick, a science teacher at Fond du Lac High School, a geology lecturer at UW- Oshkosh Fond du Lac Campus, an elected official serving on Fond du Lac County Board of Supervisors, but most importantly I am a father to four children. The future of our public education system is extremely important as I have a child in High School, in Middle School, in Elementary School, and one who is just learning to talk.
The value of receiving a quality education was instilled in me early on as I grew up in an educator’s family. My father was a teacher and a principal for Campbellsport School District for 35 years and my mother taught at St. Mathews Catholic Elementary School in Campbellsport, Wisconsin for 20 years. I saw the value of learning and how kids were taught both in the public setting and in the private setting. I attended Campbellsport Public Schools from kindergarten until I graduated in 2001.
Growing up in a small town surrounded by farms had a lot of perks. My first job was on a local farm picking rocks, unloading hay, and feeding the cows during milking hours. This job taught me work ethic, and an appreciation for where our food comes from. In high school I was interested in agriculture and science classes and tutored elementary kids in an after school program.
My passion for science further developed in college as I attended UW Oshkosh. I worked for the geology department as a research assistant, lab assistant, and a tutor. I enjoyed helping others understand science as I lead review sessions and helped with Project Success. In 2006 I graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Education with a Major in Natural Science and a Minor in Earth Science.
One of my greatest honors was receiving the 2017 Outstanding Young Alumni Award from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, where I completed not only my bachelor’s degree but also a master’s degree in education.
In the summer of 2006 I was hired by Fond du Lac School District to teach physical science and earth science to students who have special needs and students who are at risk. From there my education experience took off and I wrote curriculum for classes such as meteorology, geology, physical science, environmental science, earth science, and ecology.
My community involvement lead to others asking me to run for local office. I chose to run for District #15 Fond du Lac County Board of Supervisors. In 2016 I was elected to the board with 78% of the vote.
I am currently in my third term and am the chair of the Social Service committee and Human Service committee. I oversee Veterans Services, Family Support, the Aging and Disability Resource Center, Economic Support Services, Senior Services, Child Support, and Harbor Haven (the county nursing home), along with a $40 million budget.
Troy Gunderson grew up in Colfax, WI attending kindergarten through twelfth grade at Colfax Public Schools.
Following graduation from the University of Minnesota, Gunderson embarked on a 35-year career in public education including seven years as a classroom teacher at Melrose-Mindoro High School, and 16 years as a high school principal – one year in Princeton, WI and 15 years in West Salem, WI. He then served 12 years as a school superintendent including two years at Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau School District in Galesville, WI, and ten years for the School District of West Salem. Gunderson currently serves as an adjunct professor of school finance in the superintendent certification program at Viterbo University in La Crosse, WI.
Troy and his wife Jill live in West Salem. Jill is retired from her career as a middle school science teacher at Melrose-Mindoro Middle School. Troy and Jill have two adult children, Kelsey and Kirsten, who are both graduates of West Salem High School and the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Dr. Hendricks was born in Chicago, Illinois to Bishop Harry and First Lady Barbara Hendricks. As an infant, her family moved to Decatur, Illinois, a small rural town wherein the majority of people earned a living by working in industrial or agricultural commodity processing and production, factories or farms. When factories closed, Dr. Hendricks’ hometown was negatively impacted. She learned the importance of committing to something bigger than herself at a very young age. The 4-H are words Dr. Hendricks lives by. She leads with her head (clear thinking eliminating negative thoughts and beliefs that hinder progress); heart (caring for others); hands (giving, putting others before self); and health (maintaining personal health while thinking, caring and giving). As a teenager, Dr. Hendricks’ family moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin when her father was appointed to pastor Church of the Living God.
Dr. Hendricks is the mother of two children, Barbara and Brandon. Her first born, Barbara, is gifted and talented. Her second born, Brandon, has multiple severe disabilities. Dr. Hendricks felt disempowered during the IEP team process and empowered herself to become a special education teacher.
The granddaughter of sharecroppers, she decided to pursue higher education as a first-generation college student. Dr. Hendricks earned an Associate Degree in Human Services from Milwaukee Area Technical College; Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services from Springfield College; Master’s Degree in Education from Cardinal Stritch University and Doctorate Degree in Educational Leadership from National Louis University. As a single mother, Dr. Hendricks moved from depending on the state to serving at the executive level of the state.
Dr. Deborah Kerr brings more than 40 years of educational experience to the campaign trail as she vies for the top Education Job in Wisconsin: State Superintendent of Public Instruction. She most recently served as Superintendent of Brown Deer School District, one of the most diverse K-4 through 12the grade districts in the state of Wisconsin with 1,600 students of which 80% are students of color and more than 50% are students living in poverty.
Prior to her 13 years at Brown Deer, Dr. Kerr has served as a middle school principal, an adjunct professor at local universities, an assistant principal, a physical education/health teacher, coach, an athletic director, and a successful girls’ varsity high school basketball coach winning two back-to-back state championships.
Her experience also involves membership and leadership roles in regional, state, and national organizations. She has honed her leadership skills as Presidents of both the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), an international professional organization with over 13,000 educational leaders, and also as the past president of the Wisconsin Association of School District Administrators.
Deb is noted for her vision in closing achievement gaps and as a passionate advocate of character education by fostering community partnerships. Her leadership trademark is a commitment to all students with high-quality learning environments, developing collaborative work teams of professionals, and accelerating personalized learning for all students. Promoting global citizenship and cultivating 21st-century skills for her students has always been a hallmark of her leadership. She is also deeply committed to continuous improvement in all aspects of the school organization.
Deb earned her Doctorate of Education Leadership from National-Louis University, a Master of Education from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, and a Bachelor of Arts & Science from Valparaiso University. Deb was a beneficiary of Title 9 and also advocates for opportunities and access for girls and women in athletics. Her teaching career began at the prestigious University of Chicago – Laboratory Schools.When not travelling the state on her campaign tour, Deb enjoys spending time with her two loves, husband Ron and black Labrador Rizzo.
Steve Krull is an Air Force veteran and a proven leader for change. Dr. Krull has vast experience coordinating and implementing successful programs that lead to higher levels of student achievement. Steve met his wife Amanda in the Air Force and recently celebrated their nineteenth wedding anniversary. They have two children, Imogen and Keith. Imogen is a freshman in college, and Keith is a sophomore in high school. The Krull family enjoys playing games, watching the Brewers play ball, and outdoor activities.
On October 1st, 2020, Steve declared his candidacy for State Superintendent of Wisconsin Schools. Steve sees our public educational system crumbling in Wisconsin. There is a teacher shortage in the thousands. Children receive vastly different services depending on what district or school they attend. Also, there is a student loan debt crisis. Steve believes to solve these issues, we need to reform school financing. He also believes we need to focus on the bread and butter fundamentals needed to expand great schools across our state.
“I’m running because I believe we can build an educational system in Wisconsin that can be a model for the nation. A system that no matter where you live or where you move, there will be a great school waiting. A system where our college students can begin their lives because they aren’t stifled with mass amounts of student debt. Essentially, a system where every child has a chance for a better life”
Dr. Jill Underly knew she wanted to be a teacher way back in 1986, when she was in the 3rd grade. She was inspired by the first teacher in space, Christa McAuliffe, and decided to go into public service “when she grew up.” Throughout high school she worked in a family daycare and volunteered on the pediatrics floor of the local hospital. As soon as she was able, she began substitute teaching in elementary and middle school settings.
Jill’s first teaching job started the week after she finished student teaching, and was at a large comprehensive rural high school where she taught U.S. History, Government, Sociology, and Midwestern History. She also taught along side the English Language Learner teacher and worked with students who were the children of migrant farmers from Mexico. There were many tomato fields in the area and a large cannery nearby. While teaching in her first few years, she was named department chair of the social studies department, started the high school girls’ softball team, and she was one of the sponsors of the National Honor Society. She also was her teacher’s association vice president.
After meeting her husband, John, they moved to a suburban area for John’s job. Jill now taught at a much larger high school with a lot more resources. Here she taught U.S. History and World History, and U.S. Geography. Some of her former students now work at corporations such as Facebook and Google. She coached the freshman softball team, and was the Assistant Varsity Coach, and Jill also sponsored student council, where they facilitated charity events such as a high school “battle of the bands” for childhood cancer research.
While in Graduate School at UW Madison, Jill worked primarily with first-generation college students from rural Wisconsin and urban Milwaukee, many of whom commuted to Madison daily. There she helped them navigate a large research university and helped them be successful.
Since 1999, Jill has worked in “all facets of public education, PK – 16:” as a high school and middle school social studies teacher, a University of Wisconsin College of Letters & Science academic advisor, a Title I Consultant and assistant manager at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, an elementary principal and Director of Instruction, and most recently, a rural school district superintendent. In 2015, she was the youngest female superintendent to lead a public school district in Wisconsin with a research-doctorate degree.
With over two decades of public education experience, including her current 6 years as the Superintendent of the Pecatonica School District and 5 years at the Department of Public Instruction in both Educator Licensing and Title I, Dr. Underly has been committed to ensuring that every child, every day, has the opportunity for a first-class public education in the State of Wisconsin.
As Pecatonica’s chief learning officer, administrator, and business manager, Dr. Underly led initiatives to mitigate the open enrollment problems that plague rural school districts. In the summer of 2015, she brought a summer enrichment day camp for local families of elementary aged children, which was awarded a “Standing up for Rural Schools, Libraries, and Communities Award” from the Department and the Wisconsin Rural Schools Association in 2016. In 2017, the Pecatonica Area School District was one of the first public schools to offer a full day 4K program and daycare program at the elementary school. In 2019, the Pecatonica Area School District expanded the program to all district families so they could send their 4K child to preschool every day at no additional cost. This model is now being replicated in public schools, and especially rural schools, throughout Wisconsin.
As a leader at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Dr. Underly was involved with the development of the online federal grant software program that streamlined requirements and made claiming funds from federal grants seamless, saving business managers and bookkeepers countless hours in paperwork.
Dr. Underly and her siblings are all first generation college students, having grown up in Northwest Indiana where their father was a second-generation IBEW industrial electrician and their mother a homemaker. She came to Wisconsin in 2005 to pursue her graduate education at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, as a doctoral student in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis. She received her doctorate in 2012 with a dissertation about the Federal Title I program and the impacts the administrative requirements have on both rural and urban districts. Prior to moving to Wisconsin, Dr. Underly was a high school social studies teacher where she primarily taught government, U.S. History, Midwestern History, and Geography.
She and her husband, John, have two children, both currently in middle school. They live on a small farm in southwestern Wisconsin and raise a menagerie of chickens, farm cats, and a Labrador Retriever among a grove of fruit trees and a large vegetable garden to sustain themselves, family and friends. Dr. Underly is an accomplished baker and cook and enjoys spending time around the dinner table with her family. She also enjoys food preservation, reading, traveling, being outdoors with her children, and reflecting on ways to leverage research and policy to make lives better for the next generation of Wisconsinites.
Milwaukee School Board – District 4
Aisha Carr is a single-mother, educator, mentor, and community organizer. Carr is a graduate of both the public and private education sectors, and the single-mother of a soon-to-be high school freshman. She is also the product of the foster-care system and a single-father household. Carr has devoted her entire professional career to the advancement of students of color, fighting for racial and educational equity. She is eager to bring her lifelong commitment to equity and her varied personal and professional experiences to the Milwaukee School Board.
Carr is currently the Opportunity Youth Re-Engagement Director for the Silver Spring Neighborhood Center where she works with youth and young adults between the ages of 16 and 24, to connect them with high quality skills training, family-sustaining employment opportunities, individualized coaching and case-management. As a Culturally Responsive Teacher Leader for the Milwaukee Public School District, she helped pilot MPS’s Black Lives Matter Resolution Course, and facilitated teacher, faculty, and staff professional development training on Comparative Ethnic Studies district-wide. As an MPS Secondary Special Education Teacher and a Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee Community Learning Center Club Manager, Carr’s experience includes community organizing, educational policies, political leadership, and youth employment, skills training, leadership and development.
Carr is a first-generation college graduate, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis. Carr also earned an Urban Special Education Teaching Licensure while serving as a 2013 Teach For America Milwaukee region Corps Member.
Cheryl Hayes has been part of this community for over 50 years, working tirelessly to make MPS a better place. She understands what we need from experience and advocacy. She is the one to trust!
Cheryl Hayes knows the value of smaller classes, alternative programs, improving the services offered to families, more funding, better working conditions for staff, and training to deal with our children from all walks of life; That’s why she’s running for this position.
I am Rev. Dana Kelley, a servant leader! I am a servant leader in the community of faith, currently serving as Assistant Pastor of The Reviving Faith Movement Church. I am a servant leader in my family, where I serve as the mother of two amazing adult sons (Delvante’ and Tyler Tatum), grandmother to my outstanding GlamSon (Dell Khalid Tatum), and mother-in-love to my beautiful daughter (Khali Jackson). I am a servant leader in the North Side community of Milwaukee, where I serve as Lead Organizer of North Side Rising, a community organizing Co-op of Citizen Action of Wisconsin.
I am a proud alumna of the Milwaukee Public School System and a graduate of North Division High School (Go Blue Devils!!!). I have also completed parts of my higher education through the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Milwaukee Area Technical College.
Victor was born in Lagos, Nigeria and has three younger siblings. His parents came to America as immigrants from Nigeria to seek a better life for themselves and their children. They chose to upend their lives and relocate because they knew America offered boundless opportunities. They knew I could receive an education and that I could go on to pursue great things.
Victor was raised in Milwaukee where he attended school. After high school, he attended UW-Madison. Victor began his career in education, motivated by the chance to unveil opportunities for underrepresented students like himself.
Victor maintains over 30 years of experience in education. He was a teacher in Milwaukee Public Schools for over a decade before becoming an assistant principal at Malcolm X Academy and Bayview high school. Throughout his 30 plus years in education, Victor has taught in the classroom, served in a myriad of administrative roles, and found success in educational leadership roles. His wealth of educational experience has prepared him to protect and empower students on day one when elected to school board.
In 2000, Victor founded Positive Images, a non-profit dedicated to responding to the needs of Milwaukee area students who were academically successful, demonstrated leadership potential and civic awareness but had limited exposure to role models and mentors who could support their academic and professional pursuits. He committed himself to building bridges and shaping positive trajectories for these students. Victor’s passion for empowering young people and fostering community are key priorities for his tenure as a school board member.
Milwaukee School Board – District 5
I am running for Milwaukee School Board to create the transformative change that our students and community deserve. This position is crucial for the future of our city. Our public schools are under attack by privatizers, and we need strong, proven leadership to fight and win for our students—no matter their race, gender identity, income level, immigration status, sexuality or disability.
As an MPS educator, past union president and active community leader, I have the vision, experience and drive to deliver this transformative change for our students and city. As president of the substitute teachers’ union for four years, I defied the skeptics and won healthcare benefits for many substitute teachers by engaging in a 21-day hunger strike. I also defeated efforts to privatize our jobs via a temp agency and organized volunteers to knock on hundreds of doors to help win a historic referendum to increase funding for our schools by millions of dollars.
As an active community leader, I am the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans, which fights for retirees alongside labor unions. I am also the elected Treasurer of the Milwaukee Democratic Socialists of America and a leader in the movement for a Green New Deal. As an MPS educator and substitute teacher, I have educated students across our city for more than six years, building a strong reputation as a sought-after, high-quality educator and making lasting and impactful connections with students.
I am Abbie Fishman and as a longtime Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) teacher and local activist, I am running for the 5th district school board seat representing Milwaukee’s Harambee, Riverwest, East Side, and Downtown neighborhoods, where my family has lived for decades.
My experiences as both an MPS Teacher and parent of an MPS graduate have inspired and energized my candidacy. I have held a variety of positions across MPS and benefited greatly from my work with passionate teachers, and all varieties of devoted students in MPS.
I found myself frequently frustrated by the multitude of obstacles that have discouraged teachers and students. My mission is to facilitate and effect systemic change by replacing the stop gap measures MPS has historically implemented to address the needs of our diversity of students of color, cultures, languages, and abilities.
Jilly Gokalgandhi was born in Mumbai, India and immigrated to the United States as a child. Her parents, Bharat and Sangeeta, despite having polio, worked tirelessly to navigate a vastly different system and culture in hopes of providing a brighter future with more opportunity for their children.
A proud product of K-12 public education, Jilly benefited from quality public school teachers, growing up with access to arts, music, and bilingual (English + Spanish) education, inspiring her to advocate for educational equity for all students. Through her career in the Milwaukee, she has worked to build community partnerships for greater support and investment in our public schools.
As a Community Schools Coordinator at Bradley Tech High School, Jilly brought teachers, students, administrators, neighbors and community partners together to ensure student success. This team used collaborative decision making to create school budgets, strategic plans and curricular changes.
Jilly created space for Rockwell Automation employees to connect with Milwaukee Public Schools students through Girls in STEM at Escuela Vieau and Rogers Street Academy and with middle and high school students during Engineers Week. These connections allowed for an authentic encounter over a shared passion.
At Employ Milwaukee, Jilly secured funding and advocated for policies advancing youth workforce development programs at the local, state, and federal level.
Every student should have equal access to an excellent education! As a parent of four, I have faced the tough decision of where to send my children to obtain the best education. So, as a stakeholder in this community, it is my duty to do the same for all children. We live and work in the 5th District. For these reasons, I am running for MPS School Board District #5.
Kahri Phelps Okoro is a Milwaukee native. She currently serves as an Operations Manager for Equity Supply Group, a family business. In addition, she serves on the MATC District Board /Board Treasurer. Prior to serving in this capacity, Okoro worked as an MPS RTI reading teacher. Okoro has experience in the areas of secondary education, reading specialist, community collaboration, curriculum & instruction, businesses, and financial literacy. Okoro served as a reading teacher for Milwaukee Public Schools. During her most recent time as a reading teacher, Okoro had the privilege of serving over 150 youths each year in the Milwaukee community, developing a reading curriculum to build reading skills as well as character and leadership. As a Reading Specialist, Okoro was known for her FAMILY (Foundations and Academic Milestones to Initiate Literate Youth) Literacy Backpacks. She created over 100 topic-specific literacy backpacks with varying reading levels, donated materials, games, and other activities. Coupled with teaching experience, Okoro has educated the community for over 14 years in the financial industry as a financial advisor as well as in retail banking. Most recently, she graduated from the 2020 Innovate Public Schools Cohort. Okoro has a passion for content specific tutoring, community service, civic engagement opportunities, financial literacy and conflict resolution including restorative practices which were evident during her time as chair for JPMorgan Chase’s UJIMA and BOLD (Black Organization for Leadership Development) Business Resource Group. Okoro is a proud graduate of Concordia University, where she earned her Bachelors of Science in Secondary Education Broad Field Social Sciences(History). Okoro completed the Compton Teacher certification program at Alverno University. Okoro went on to get a masters in Reading Teacher/Specialist at Concordia University of Wisconsin with her graduate research centered around Family Literacy and the School-to-Prison pipeline. In 2015, Okoro completed her 2nd Master’s degree, an MBA in International Business and Risk Management. Kahri’s experiences and proven track record of success are an immediate result of her life’s choices, victories, education, and success. She has devoted her entire professional career to the advancement of people, in the fight for racial and educational equity and justice.
Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors – District 10
I Am Aleyah Anderson a lifelong resident of Milwaukee for 25 years. This community is everything to me.
I am optimistic about the CHANGE we can achieve in our city but it starts with us. Together we can create a commUNITY.
Coggs-Jones’ commitment to the park’s system was nurtured as she was employed at the Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. Park. Her more than 10 years of experience working in the Human Resources field has aided in Coggs-Jones recognizing the need for more employment opportunities for residents. She plans to spend time talking and meeting with residents to hear their concerns and ideas.” Coggs-Jones shared, “Through the years, I have continued our family’s tradition of service to the people. Although I stand on the shoulders of my mother, who had the privilege of serving this district for many years, and my family whose service has been felt in Milwaukee and across the State of Wisconsin, I intend to earn the support of residents based on my individual ideas and efforts for this district.” Coggs-Jones said.
“I know the struggles, I have lived them myself, and have chosen to use the power of service to help improve our community.” Coggs-Jones said. She went on to say, “I have always been a soldier for the people, by working in a variety of capacities to make Milwaukee a better place, let me share just a few highlights of the work I have done.”
Priscilla Coggs-Jones was born and raised in the 10th County Supervisory district and is the proud mother of one son.
James Ferguson is a native Milwaukeean born and raised on the north side of the city in the heart of the 10th County Supervisory District. He bases his life on 2 simple principles: the first being the biblical golden rule, “Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.” Luke 6:31 And secondly, John Maxwell’s quote, “Everything Rises and Falls on Leadership.” Everywhere he goes, James’ goal is always the same, to positively impact the systems, organizations and people with whom he serves.
James has been blessed with the gifts of leadership and administration. A young, creative and energetic servant leader, he has served in various professional leadership capacities throughout the United States including at the Dr. Howard L Fuller Education Foundation, Career Youth Development, WestCare Wisconsin & MacPyles Corporation. James is currently the President of the Milwaukee based nonprofit the Center for Family Preservation, Corp and is the Executive Director/ Host Pastor of Life Christian University Milwaukee.
James credits everything good about himself to his living faith in GOD. Everything he does, he does in pursuit of his Father’s pleasure. He also credits his Mother (Nellie Ferguson), late Father (Johnnie Ferguson, Sr) and his loving family with being the wind beneath his wings. They are his latest and greatest inspirations. He often says, “Everything I am and everything I will be is because of everything they are!”
James is a proud graduate of Milwaukee High School of the Arts where he studied music. He is also an Alumnus of Marquette University Undergrad where he majored in Political Science as well as Marquette University Law School where he focused on government, law making & policy. He is currently completing a Doctorate at Life Christian University and a Certification in Executive Leadership from Cornell University. James lives in Milwaukee with his beautiful and loving bride/wife, Kara Johnson-Ferguson!
Knocking doors 6 hours a day in these conditions, there is no way to deny that dealing with the impact of COVID-19 has to be our immediate priority. The pandemic has brought attention to pre-existing inequities that county services must address. For example, the County Housing Division is key to preventing eviction and homelessness.
As County Board Supervisor, I plan to leverage resources by improving intergovernmental partnerships and coordination. People live their lives at the local level.The City and County share responsibility in providing the services that bring vitality and dignity to that life. I will be a bold and unapologetic voice for the community on the County Board.
A native of Milwaukee, and the 10th District, Darrin Madison, Jr. was aware at a young age that the world didn’t value his identity and community socially, Environmentally, and economically. Community activism has been his response to this reality. Darrin found his first place of activism at the Urban Ecology Center at age 9 in the Young Scientist program. At the age of 14, he became an intern. At 15, he joined the community of youth at Urban Underground to create and launch an urban agriculture campaign called “Fresh P.L.A.I.T.S” which encouraged residents to eat organic produce, buy organic produce, and grow their own organic produce. After attending Howard University as a biology major, he returned to Milwaukee to serve as a Public Ally. During this time, he designed and launched the Eco-Neighborhood Initiative for the City of Milwaukee.
His most recent position has been Program Manager at Urban Underground and Youth Justice Milwaukee where he has mentored over 100 youth. Both organizations advocate for positive supports for youth that will develop future leaders, identify youth led solutions to complex issues, and decrease youth incarceration.
Another area of expertise is developing leadership that reflects the community. Darrin has worked as a field lead on campaigns in Milwaukee, Washington, DC, Baltimore and Alaska. With this Special Election, he knew it was his turn to step forward. “The 10th District has a legacy of leadership dedicated to the needs and quality of life in terms of human services. My work in youth justice has given me a deep understanding of how critical county services are to the quality of life in our neighborhoods. Without strong leadership, those services are at risk.”
While it is clear that the County has a serious deficit issue, Madison remains hopeful. “Part of this challenge is the result of decisions made by previous County Boards and outdated service delivery systems. We know different things, we have different leaders. With even more input from the community- we can serve people better AND advocate for change at the state level. Last year the County saved $3M by serving more youth through community programs. This is one example of smart change.”
“In addition, my service as a Fellow for the NYABMOC has trained me in reviewing innovative proposals to improve outcomes for marginalized folks. In short, I have benefitted from the mentorship of up and coming Black leaders and will bring that wisdom to my work as Supervisor for the 10th District.