Graham Kilmer

County Board District 12 Election Preview

Four candidates, with no incumbent, running for south-side county supervisor seat. Here are their views.

By - Feb 14th, 2022 04:27 pm

Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors Candidates for district 12. Clockwise from left, Josh Zepnick, Rosie King, Juan Miguel Martinez, Christian Saldivar.

The primaries for the Spring 2022 Election are on the ballot Tuesday, Feb. 15. 

For the Milwaukee County Board, there are only a handful of competitive districts up for election this cycle. Of the 18 seats on the board, 11 have candidates that will appear on the ballots in April unopposed.

Of the remaining seven districts where there is an electoral contest, two will depend on the outcome of Tuesday’s primary election. These are District 3, where Sup. Sheldon Wasserman is the incumbent and District 12, where there is no incumbent running in the race.

Because of decennial redistricting, which the board completed in 2021, the ultimate winner of these two districts will be the first to represent them.

Urban Milwaukee previously reported on the candidates for District 3.

The new District 12 runs north-south from the Menomonee Valley all the way to W. Howard Ave. It has a jagged western boundary, reaching its westernmost point at S. 51st St. Most of its eastern boundary runs along S. 20th St. It includes the city of Milwaukee neighborhoods of Mitchell Park, Muskego Way, Jackson Park, Silver City, Burnham Park, Clarke Square and Southgate.

The candidates for this district are Juan Miguel Martinez, a freelance journalist and an organizer with the Milwaukee Area Service and Hospitality Workers Organization (MASH); Christian Saldivar, a former candidate for the state Legislature who has worked as a youth counselor and crisis stabilizer; Josh Zepnick, a former state legislator; and Rosie King, a pastor at Resurrection Power Ministries.

Urban Milwaukee asked the candidates to answer three questions. Here are the questions and their answers: 

What do you think is the most important issue facing Milwaukee County? And how should the county board address it?

Christian Saldivar: I believe the most pressing issues facing the county are reckless driving on our highways and around our county parks, and a need for expansion of  public health services, to offer people suffering from mental health illnesses and alcohol, drug illness, abuse. One way to address the reckless driving is to put certain checkpoints where drivers are being monitored for speeding excessively and recklessly driving by the Sheriff’s department. This would require more investment from the state to create the platform of programming necessary to create it. As for an expansion of mental health/AODA services that have been on the rise, we must bring in innovative ways to afford these much needed resources. One solid way to afford the needed services are from investments by the state of Wisconsin. As the number of people and costs of services in Milwaukee have gone up, the shared revenue model we use has not been changed to benefit our county! We must do better as a County Board to fight for our rights and resources.

Juan Miguel Martinez: The most important issue is properly funding green spaces and advocating for affordable housing and strong union jobs. Addressing reckless driving by properly pushing the credible messenger program, as well.

Joshua Zepnick: Without a doubt, the number one issue facing Milwaukee County government is its fiscal stability.  Long term obligations like pension costs and long delayed deferred maintenance for key facilities (especially Parks) create the need to restructure spending and increase revenues. State mandated services are not being matched with enough state funding.  This must change and should include as much creative problem-solving with state leaders as possible including reforms on how services are delivered.

The County Board should continue working in partnership with the County Executive to create a unified front when negotiating with state government leaders. The Board needs to be flexible and forward thinking as we try to align services and future new projects with funding sources. I support a one penny sales tax that prioritizes property tax relief and public safety.  Setting aside an appropriate dollar amount to meet future pension obligations is critical to our fiscal well-being.  

All these measures ought to be done with the expectation that we need to also increase funding for key “quality of life” public services. I want public transit to be frequent, fareless and faster. MCTS has started this process but has not gone far enough.  We will never rebound from pandemic ridership drops if we do not take seriously the antiquated model of providing public transit in Milwaukee.

We also need to maintain and improve our parks and cultural institutions along with basic health and human service needs.  Working with state government on increased funding, service delivery reforms and authorization for a one penny sales tax increase are the major components to create a more sustainable financial future.  

In summary, the County Board needs to work closely with the County Executive to move forward with our partners in State Government on a bi-partisan basis. The Board should work tirelessly to help agencies find new and more cost effective ways to do business. And the Board should be helping to sell the one penny sales tax in our respective districts so that the taxpaying public understands this is about serious financial reform, improving and expanding services and importantly sending direct property tax relief to taxpayers. With properly funded services and tax relief, we can make Milwaukee County a more attractive destination for people to live, gain employment, and raise a family.

Rosie King: For me, one of the most important issues facing Milwaukee county is a lack of being safe. I’m in the race to be an advocate for what concerns the people of Milwaukee County. The County Board need to address safety by being a connector and not a divider. The Sheriff Department, Police Department, County Board, Mayor’s office, along with other elected officials should band together with all kind of citizens to brainstorm and come up with solutions. Call a town hall meeting to discuss solutions with all communities. While remaining true to our culture and diversity we are all one race, Human. The answer is unity and genuine concern for our county, city, state and country to be solutions to the problems we are facing.

What do you think qualifies you to represent your district on the county board?

Christian Saldivar: As a life-long, first-generation, bilingual, Mexican-American southsider, who has gone to area schools, worked and owns a home in the district, I have a lot of experiences and perspectives to offer. My background in education, human services and mental health have prepared me to take on this important role with a humble but hungry approach to achieving positive lasting change for my district and Milwaukee County at large! I, as the next 12th district county supervisor, will commit to communicate, collaborate, and cooperate with other caring and invested individuals to bring to fruition a better environment for us all!

Juan Miguel Martinez: In a district that is primarily made up of working class people of color, I believe I can be their champion by treating the district like a union. I am a working class chicano and have lived here 13 years and know the issues the district faces.

Joshua Zepnick: I was born and raised in District 12 and represented a large portion of the district as a State Legislator.  I have strong ties to people, employers, community-based and ethnic organizations, and other public officials in the area.  I hold a Master’s Degree in State and Local Government and during my tenure in state government helped develop policy and delivered funding for key priorities ranging from workforce development, support for disabled persons, transportation infrastructure, and job creation.  I am the only candidate with a proven track record of supporting LGBTQ rights and I have been proactive on immigration reform, ensuring public spending is tied to family supporting wages and union agreements, and I have promoted key measures to help boost opportunities for low-income families.

Rosie King: What qualifies me to represent my district 12 is that I live here, and I’m genuinely concerned about the people. I believe in the constitution “We the People.” I have a vision of what we can be as we work together to bring change. I’m not saying what anyone want to hear just to get elected. I’m a lioness who is willing to do what I am elected to do by the people with an understanding of I may not be liked. It’s okay. I know Milwaukee is a decent place to live, and with the right leadership in the right places we can be a great place to live, raise a family, respect our elders, children get a quality education, remove Critical Race Theory/CRT, Common Core from classrooms, and restore parents rights to teach their own children sex education at home. No one person can do all that’s needed, but as we pull together and start to work on the weakest links first all of us will benefit as a whole.

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Categories: MKE County, Politics

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