Urban Milwaukee

Why You Should Vote For Each Candidate For Mayor

We asked the candidates themselves, what makes you the best person for the job?

By - Feb 11th, 2022 08:28 pm

Not sure who you’re going to cast a vote for on Tuesday, Feb. 15? We asked the mayoral candidates themselves to make their pitch directly to you, in 600 words or less. What follows are their responses.

You can learn more about each candidate by clicking on their name (to view their coverage on Urban Milwaukee) or following the link to their respective campaign websites.

If you’re voting in person on Tuesday, make sure you check your polling place on the state’s My Vote WI website before you go. It may have changed as a result of the redistricting process.

Marina Dimitrijevic

Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic, husband Eduardo Jaime and family. Image from the candidate.

Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic, husband Eduardo Jaime and family. Image from the candidate.

As a lifelong Milwaukeean, I’ve watched our city grow. But as it’s grown, we’ve failed to address many of the biggest challenges in front of us. We need to bring our city together as one Milwaukee, where everyone has access to opportunity. I’m running for mayor because I believe that if we make the tough decisions and fight for bold solutions to our challenges, we can create a brighter future where all of Milwaukee can thrive.

I’ve been in local elected leadership for nearly 18 years, and I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish for this community. I’ve delivered on more funding for the Office of Violence Prevention, a progressive environmental agenda, increased funding for parks and outdoor recreation, and I’ve fought to expand access to voting across Milwaukee. My guiding principle has always been to fight for a more just, more inclusive Milwaukee where everyone is welcome.

But I’ll be the first to say we have more work to do. Today, far too often one’s zip code determines their opportunity to succeed. This doesn’t change without hard work, but Milwaukee is a city built on determination. As the daughter of a Serbian immigrant, I know the value of hard work and I won’t stop until everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.

As Mayor, my first priority would be to keep our city safe. I’m appalled by the rise in violent crime in our city. No matter where you live, we all deserve safe neighborhoods where our children can learn and play without fear. Without a doubt, we need a well-run police force to keep our communities safe. A trusting partnership based on a community policing model must continue to be built. But we also know that police alone are not enough, we need to focus on the root causes of violence in our communities. It’s our responsibility to end housing instability, economic injustice, and lack of access to quality health care. That’s why on Day 1 I would move to aggressively accelerate the implementation of Milwaukee’s “Blueprint for Peace”, a unifying vision and overarching plan for working in a more coordinated manner to advance public safety. I will make big investments in public safety, but it’s past time we learn that there is more to our public safety budget than police.

I will also work hard to support working families. Just this week I successfully passed legislation to give City of Milwaukee workers their first paid leave policy, and as Mayor I’ll expand it from 6 weeks to 12 weeks. I’ll continue the work I started as Alderwoman to make high-quality child care more accessible and affordable. And I’ll address Milwaukee’s housing crisis by utilizing anti-displacement tools and increasing the number of rentals for low-income residents.

Finally, as Mayor I’ll defend our democracy against constant attacks by Republicans in Madison and Washington, DC. Our vote is our voice and no one can take that away from us. I authored the Safe Vote program to make voting easier and more accessible during the 2020 election, and as Mayor I’ll set a goal of breaking Milwaukee voter turnout records in 2020 and 2022.

Milwaukee is at a crossroads. We simply can’t afford half solutions or more of the status quo. It’s time for bold action to reshape our city, and I have the vision and experience to make it happen. I hope I can earn your vote on Tuesday.

Campaign Website

Robert Donovan

Bob Donovan speaking at a 2012 press conference. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Bob Donovan speaking at a 2012 press conference. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

I will work with an open mind. A well-informed citizen with a good idea makes my job easier. A good mayor seeks good ideas from the people they serve. I will also focus on responsibilities, not politics. I’m about nuts and bolts—plowed roads, parks in good condition, schools that parents want and need, safe streets, and libraries open. One thing I won’t do is make unrealistic promises. There is no magic to being a good mayor. I promise I won’t just be an empty suit. Mayors need to be hard workers. They need to keep things moving. I won’t run things; the people around me will. But it will be my job to make sure the people around me will keep city services moving ahead in a timely fashion. As Mayor I will understand change. Change doesn’t often happen overnight; it happens when we decide something doesn’t work well and it’s time to repair and or replace it. Finally, it’s not about me. Cities need things like sewers, roads, schools, police protection and parks. Some are expensive and others just cost money. None of them need to be named after me. I pledge to be honest and realistic. Milwaukee’s infrastructure requires funding. Departments must be adequately staffed. I won’t fudge on budgets. If it costs money it will be in budget. This is what Mayor Bob will be all about.

Campaign Website

Ieshuh Griffin

Ieshuh Griffin. Photo from the candidate.

Ieshuh Griffin. Photo from the candidate.

I should become mayor because the people of Milwaukee deserve better than the 17 years of disservice that the former mayor Tom Barrett has given them. I should become mayor because I am the ONLY candidate with REAL solutions. I should become mayor because I am the ONLY candidate that can truly identify with the people of Milwaukee. Lastly I should become mayor because I am what’s best for the people of Milwaukee, real change. Change for the better, even if I’m not who everyone wants, I am who everyone needs.

Twitter account

Cavalier Johnson

Cavalier Johnson is a candidate for Milwaukee mayor in the Tuesday, Feb. 15 primary election. Photo courtesy of campaign website

Cavalier Johnson is a candidate for Milwaukee mayor in the Tuesday, Feb. 15 primary election. Photo courtesy of campaign website

I am an urbanist who believes deeply in Milwaukee’s potential. I believe we can aggressively tackle our immediate health, public safety, and financial crises, while also building on our assets and growing Milwaukee. There is an urgent need for long-term thinking while solving our near-term challenges. I have the experience, energy, and vision to be mayor and I’m the right candidate for this moment.

I grew up poor and Black in Milwaukee, changing schools every year and living the trauma of poverty and stress. I carry with me a belief we need to provide support and opportunity to all city residents, regardless of zip code or skin color. I’ve seen violence, particularly gun violence, affect my friends and family, reach my own property, and etch itself into my car as a bullethole, a constant reminder of one of this city’s current crises.

My vision for Milwaukee is as a vibrant, attractive city, one that provides opportunity for all its people and which protects all its residents. Only a few decades ago, this was one of the largest cities in the country, with room to grow. We built a multi-racial

middle class upon a strong base of good-paying manufacturing jobs. Milwaukee consistently received high marks across the country as a well-run city with relatively little waste, with reliable and proactive city services ensuring a safe and clean urban area, the cornerstones of health.

The dramatic loss of manufacturing jobs which started in the 1970s slowly eroded the quality of life in Milwaukee over the last few decades, hitting Milwaukee’s Black community especially hard. The development of the freeway system broke up neighborhoods and crucial economic corridors throughout the north side. When the jobs left, there was little to fall back on and generational poverty ensued. Economic despair has brought violence and recklessness front and center. The crisis we are seeing now is based on neglect.

But Milwaukee has good bones. We have the infrastructure to truly build back better and we DO have the capacity to be a vibrant city of 1,000,000 people. We must learn from the mistakes of the past, and carry forward with decisions that lift up those most affected by those past mistakes. Well-intentioned growth will create jobs and encourage growth of commercial corridors, opening up opportunities and improving quality of life on the neighborhood level, not just downtown. There is no doubt in my mind that Milwaukee can and should be one of the most liveable big cities in the county. In order to achieve this, we will also need a functional relationship with our fiscal parent, the State of Wisconsin.

We need to restore shared revenue with the State, and be given the opportunity to raise our own revenue. What makes me unique here is that I have Progressive values but I’ve already begun to work with Madison, acknowledging that the state legislature will be in Republican hands for at least the near future. We need the State’s help with revenue, with addressing gun violence and reckless driving, and to help keep Milwaukee strong while driving Wisconsin forward.

We are creating talent here, but we are losing it to other cities. We have underutilized spaces that can be transformed to create jobs, using apprenticeships and smart investments. Every resident is entitled to safe neighborhoods and roads, quality public services and access to prosperity. I will work to ensure we live up to that promise. I’m the youngest candidate in the race in a city ready for generational change. Thanks in advance for your vote and Milwaukee, let’s do this … together.

Campaign Website

Earnell Lucas

Earnell Lucas. Photo courtesy of Lucas for Mayor.

Earnell Lucas. Photo courtesy of Lucas for Mayor.

Milwaukee is my hometown. It belongs to all of us, and we belong here, together. I grew up here. This is where my wife and I raised a family. I love Milwaukee because of what it has meant to me, and for what it can become. It can be so much more.

For Milwaukee to rise, it first needs a vision. Then, we need to act, and follow-through on our promises to achieve our collective goals. While that may sound simple, it will not be easy. Tough decisions need to be made with knowledge gained through experience, compassion & empathy.

My service to Milwaukee has been built on a foundation of courage, integrity, and trust. My experience has been forged by a career in the Milwaukee Police Department, where I rose to the rank of captain. It is also where I was knocked down, getting wounded in the line of duty.

Forty years ago this last New Year’s, I lay seriously wounded in a Milwaukee hospital from a shotgun blast to my right temple and the right side of my face. The glasses I was wearing that New Year’s Day morning were recovered in a foot of snow with the right lens shattered out from the blast. I still have pellets embedded, lining my right orbital bone. In addition, pellets and scar tissue remain embedded along the right side of my face and temple.

But through grace and mercy, six-months later, I was able to recover and go back to serving this community. As a young police officer concerned about social justice, it was a small sacrifice to pay for a community that had given so much to me.

Forty years later, I am still serving and sacrificing for our community. At this critical juncture in our city’s history, now more than ever, we need leaders committed to serving and sacrificing because it is an honor and privilege. That is who I am and that is who I’ve always been.

If a young boy who was raised in the Hillside Project can rise through the police department and ascend to the highest levels of leadership in Major League Baseball – serving as head of security protecting fans and players across the country and the world – and then come home to serve as Sheriff, young people can know that anything is possible.

What sets me apart is that I’m not a career politician – this is a strength. Up to this point, the only public office I have ever run for is the office I hold now – Sheriff of Milwaukee County. My goals are not for myself, my goals are about making positive change for our city.

We must address the most pressing issue facing our city: the crime and disorder that has overtaken our streets and is now threatening the very fabric of our future.

This year alone, Milwaukee has suffered through 30 homicides. This is more than double the number we had last year at this time. In 20201 there were 9,700 auto thefts in Milwaukee. That averages almost 30 auto thefts per day and Milwaukee had 300 more auto thefts than the City of Chicago.

We must also address the many other issues that face us, like affordable housing, good family-sustaining jobs, equitable economic development, increasing our city’s revenue, solving our looming pension crisis, addressing reckless driving, improving our public health, fixing the lead problem, and so much more.

But in order to make any of this happen, Milwaukee needs an experienced leader..

I hope to earn your trust and your vote to be our next mayor.

Campaign Website

Michael Sampson

Michael Sampson. Image from the campaign.

Michael Sampson. Image from the campaign.

The great people of Milwaukee should vote for me if they want a change. Clearly, what we have been doing in our city is not working. We are plagued with high crime and a looming budget crisis. I have no ties to City Hall and am not bought and paid for by anyone. If elected, I would spearhead an audit of our budget to figure out how our city can get through 2023 without severely cutting services.

Public safety needs to be the top priority. We all deserve to feel safe in our homes and on our streets. You should not have to park your car and worry about it being broken into or stolen. We need a leader who is going to come in and make a big statement against car thieves and not just talk about “plans”. We have to hold our Police Chief, DA, Judges, and County Sheriffs accountable for their actions or lack thereof. We need to be proactive about crime instead of reactionary.

As an event planner, I understand the importance of continuing to cultivate Milwaukee’s culture and arts.  The reputation of a city attracts new people and the culture is what retains them.  We need to prioritize reversing Milwaukee’s population trends and work towards growing our city back to 600,000 people in the next 5 years.  While improving public safety and schools play a role in that, so does investing in projects like the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and promoting our performing arts, sports, and restaurants.  We know we are the city of festivals, but does the rest of the country?

I believe that the next round of ARPA funds needs to be allocated to our restaurants that did not receive any PPP assistance. We need these businesses to survive and continue to feed our city. We also need to help those people that can’t work or pay their mortgage because of a Covid loss or illness. There are people hurting in our city that need our support.

Finally, my focus will be on landing a large business to fill up some space in Century City and provide good-paying jobs that are easily accessible to the north side. We need to connect our north and south sides to downtown and help them grow small businesses. Regardless of what happens in this election, I promise to continue fighting for Milwaukee.

Campaign Website

Lena Taylor

Senator Lena Taylor announces her run for Mayor. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Senator Lena Taylor announces her 2020 run for mayor. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Taylor’s pitch was added after initial publication due to a delay in its submission. The article originally included her campaign website biography.

Milwaukee, it’s time we deal with some hard truths.  Our city, despite all that is great about us, has some real challenges.  While reckless driving and rising crime dominate the stated priorities of residents, we have an impending budget crisis that threatens Milwaukee’s very solvency.  If we do not fix the growing pension problem, we won’t have the money to address the many issues that Milwaukeeans are concerned about.

I am running for Mayor because Milwaukee needs leadership that will finally speak honestly about our problems and executes a realistic plan to address them. We can’t continue to have leaders that offer up “plans” that are more “smoke and mirrors” than substance.  For example, if residents are promised 200 police officers, how is Milwaukee going to pay for them?  As sit stands, the current city pension plan is not fully funded.  How do we increase our liabilities when we haven’t dealt with our budget and lack of revenue?

Milwaukee has world-class arenas, major league teams, and a solid business base that are revenue drivers for the city. Milwaukee is also cash-strapped, hamstrung in our ability to raise local taxes, and funded under an outdated model of shared revenue.  The City has three basic revenue streams: state aid, property taxes, and fees charged for services.  Most cities the size of Milwaukee have multiple revenue streams that better help them pay for things like the removal of lead laterals, increased public safety, repairing potholes, and trash collection.

Given the challenges we face, Milwaukee can’t afford candidates who need on-the-job training or require a crash course in city issues and the budget. We can’t afford candidates who have interests and allegiances to big campaign donors and dark money contributors, rather than city residents.  We can’t afford candidates who think that public safety is our only issue.  We need to address homeownership, pathways to family-supporting jobs, community policing, HOP financing, economic growth and development across the city, support of small businesses, and effective K-12 education. Our landscape of issues is complex.  We need a Mayor that understands that our growth and survival are tied up in all of these things.

As a State Senator of more than 18 years, I have benefitted from the 30,000-foot view of Milwaukee.  I have worked effectively with legislators that are responsible for shared revenue decisions and allowing Milwaukee to move forward with a referendum on a sales tax.  I have co-chaired the state’s powerful budget-writing committee that oversees the more than $72 billion dollar state budget.  As a 14-year member of the Joint Committee on Finance, I understand the nuance needed to advocate for and deliver legislation for Milwaukee.  My experience is diverse and spans issues to include reforming our justice and correction systems, economic development, to agriculture.

With a record of successfully passing more than 130 bills into law, I work well across the aisle and value collaboration.  I don’t offer up empty plans; I solve problems and get things done.

Milwaukee deserves a mayor that is responsive, accountable, and ready to go hard on her behalf.  Whether as an Attorney, Business Owner, State Representative, and current State Senator, I am prepared to advocate and deliver for ALL of Milwaukee’s residents.

Campaign Website

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More about the 2022 Mayoral Race

Read more about 2022 Mayoral Race here

Categories: Politics

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