Graham Kilmer

County Board District 3 Election Preview

Incumbent supervisor faces two challengers in district including city's East Side and half of Walker's Point.

By - Feb 14th, 2022 03:25 pm

Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors District 3 Spring Primary Candidates. From Left, Eric Rorholm, Jennifer Current, Sheldon Wasserman.

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 newly-configured districts will be the first to represent them. A story on the candidates for District 12 will also be reported today.

The new District 3 runs from the city of Milwaukee’s border with Shorewood to the north; its eastern boundary is the lakeshore; its western boundary is largely the Milwaukee River, and its southern boundary is the Kinnickinnic River. The district also includes a piece of the Westown neighborhood that contains the Fiserv Forum. Most of the Historic Third Ward was removed and added to another district during redistricting to create a district for Chairwoman Marcelia Nicholson, though the chairwoman spoke against the move at the time.

The District 3 candidates are Sheldon Wasserman, a physician and former state legislator who has served on the County Board since 2016; Eric Rorholm, a theater artist, activist and recent graduate of Marquette University where he was chair of the College Democrats; and Jennifer Current, a landscape architect and a member of the City of Milwaukee Board of Zoning Appeals.

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

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

Eric Rorholm: In this time of budget crisis, the fiscally responsible and just thing to do is pull targeted dollars from the Sheriff’s office to protect, maintain and increase access to and expand our parks and to fund direct County services. We can also use those dollars to transition MCTS to an electric fleet, protecting our air quality and improving public health, and create good union jobs. And importantly, I will oppose any effort to increase sales taxes, services fees, and other de facto “poor taxes” because working families cannot afford to finance another failure at the hands of the establishment.

At a time when our democracy is under increasing attacks from an increasingly far-right GOP, the state legislature has put severe constraints on Milwaukee County’s budget and ability to raise revenue. Now, as prices are soaring and climate change is intensifying, we must focus on the harm reduction we can do right here and now to improve the conditions of working people in our community. Hard times hit working people hardest, and the coronavirus crisis was no exception. We have seen firsthand that the strategy of throwing endless taxpayer cash at the Sheriff’s department isn’t keeping us safer, and as a Black Lives Matter protester I saw firsthand the threat to the First Amendment that posed. We can be better, smarter stewards of Milwaukee County dollars.

Sheldon Wasserman: Our broken county budget contributes to every other major issue right now. By 2027, Milwaukee County is currently projected to run out of funding for MCTS, our Parks System, cultural institutions, and so much more. I’ve made pulling our budget back from the brink one of my top priorities, because I believe in the importance of fully funding all the public services our County provides. There are many potential options to solve this problem, one of which is pushing to reform Wisconsin’s shared revenue program. The State Legislature should stop hoarding taxpayer money and give Milwaukee County and other municipalities the funds they are rightfully owed.

Jennifer Current: One of the most important issues facing Milwaukee County involves long-term decisions about county-owned public assets, including over 150 parks and beaches, senior centers, recreation centers, and public transit. There is a potential golden opportunity in terms of major funds coming to Milwaukee County through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), and potentially other federal funding. The county board must lead in terms of ensuring a consistently transparent public process regarding ARPA and other decisions about parks and county assets. It is also crucial that supervisors consider impacts on equity, especially to remedy long-term disinvestment, as well as on climate resilience and overall public health. Parks and other public spaces are where we can tangibly promote equity and belonging for all, as long as we wisely protect them and preserve equal access for everyone. 

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

Eric Rorholm: I want to represent the iconic, progressive, and forward-thinking District 3 neighborhoods and give a voice to the working people who power Milwaukee County. For too long, the wealthy and well-connected have dominated our elections. I am a renter, a wage worker, and I have seen firsthand the cruelty of our economic system. This campaign is not about me, it’s about the 99%. District 3 has three colleges and universities and some of the biggest attractions to young people, including Water Street, Brady Street, and Bradford Beach. I graduated from Marquette University with a degree in political science, I worked in the U.S. House of Representatives, and I have organized with progressive campaigns, organizations, and movements for years. I am ready to end the era of “all talk, no action” and make real, tactile improvements in working people’s lives.

Sheldon Wasserman: Proven experience, positive achievements, and community ties. I was born & raised in Milwaukee and have lived in District 3 for over 30 years—that sets me apart in this race. I’m also a proud graduate of MPS, UW-Milwaukee, and the Medical College of Wisconsin. I’ve been working to achieve positive results for District 3 and Milwaukee County as a whole for many years, and I’m excited to keep getting things done for our community. To put it most clearly, I believe in our county; I’ve seen what Milwaukee can do when given half a chance, and I want to do everything in my power to help.

Jennifer Current: Having grown up in a working-class, single-parent family in Milwaukee, I understand the importance of access to public resources, including parks and recreation centers. These were essential in my life as they are to so many others in our communities.  As a landscape architect I work to reimagine public spaces, many of which have been within disinvested neighborhoods. These projects focus on climate health and resilience, stormwater management, and tree canopy restoration, to name a few. I have spent hundreds of hours facilitating public process and community engagement. As a fundamental tenet of our democracy, the voices of the people must guide decision making.

I believe that a priority of District 3 is ensuring that spaces, such as the Lakefront, are open and accessible to all and not privatized. Like many in this district, I understand we are fortunate to have access to beautiful public spaces, and also that this access is not equally distributed. People want to be a part of balancing the scales and I believe my experience in facilitating community engagement uniquely positions me to help develop and promote thoughtful and workable solutions to inequities. I have served for over six years on the City of Milwaukee’s Board of Zoning Appeals and am well-versed in reviewing proposals as part of a public-governmental entity. I am prepared to bring a fresh perspective to the Milwaukee County Board.

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Categories: MKE County, Politics

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