Jeramey Jannene and Graham Kilmer

Denita Ball Wins Sheriff’s Race

Ball wins with 55% of the vote, defeating Brian Barkow and Thomas Beal.

By - Aug 9th, 2022 09:06 pm
Denita Ball. Photo courtesy of Denita Ball for Sheriff.

Denita Ball. Photo courtesy of Denita Ball for Sheriff.

Milwaukee County just elected its next Sheriff, and for the first time, it’s a woman. Denita Ball is the first female sheriff in Milwaukee County history and the first Black female sheriff in Wisconsin history.

“I know this is a historic moment,” said Ball to supporters at Sam’s Place after the results came in.

Ball is the current deputy chief of the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO). She secured approximately 55% of the vote in a three-way Democratic primary to replace Earnell Lucas. No Republican candidates are on the ballot.

The new sheriff will have to wait until November to be formally declared the winner, but she said she’s not waiting to act. She said her top priority is addressing jail staffing issues.

“That’s going to be the thing I tackle and I am not going to wait until I am formally sworn in,” she said. “We have to make Milwaukee County a safer place to live, work, play and pray.”

Ball faced two other candidates on the ballot and one registered write in. MCSO inspector and commander of the Investigative Services Bureau Brian Barkow and MCSO captain Thomas Beal were on the ballot. Barkow and Beal both earned approximately 22% of the vote. MCSO Lieutenant Mohamed Awad ran as a write in.

At his election-night party at 3rd Street Market Hall, Barkow told Urban Milwaukee that he congratulated Ball on her victory, adding, “My commitment to the agency is still there, win or lose.”

Barkow said he was disappointed to lose, but that he was proud to have run a clean campaign and that he respected the voters’ choice. He also said the race brought forward new ideas for the sheriff’s office, and that he will continue to advocate for the policy ideas in his campaign platform from within the agency. “Regardless of who the sheriff is, the agency has to change in order for it to be sustainable,” he said. 

Ball has served as Chief Deputy since 2018 when Lucas was first elected. When she joined, she became the highest-ranking woman in history to serve in the MCSO. She praised Lucas for hiring her during her victory speech. Lucas ran for mayor unsuccessfully this spring and did not run for re-election.

Lucas did not formally endorse Ball, but Ball did make several public appearances in recent months as the lead representative of the MCSO.

Ball has worked in law enforcement for more than 35 years. She began her career with the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) in 1985. During her more than 25 year tenure with MPD she rose through the ranks of sergeant, lieutenant, captain and deputy inspector. She also has a Ph.D from Cardinal Stritch University and did her dissertation on the use of deadly force by law enforcement.

When Ball announced her candidacy in November 2021, she said, “Milwaukee County is at a crossroads right now. Crime, especially violent crime, is increasing at alarming rates. I’m running for Sheriff because we have to reverse this trend. We need our streets to be safe and we must do more to apprehend criminals in addition to putting in place the programs, services, and community level supports that prevent would-be-criminals from committing crimes in the first place.”

Along with a long list of endorsements from current and former MPD officers, Ball was endorsed by two former Milwaukee police chiefs: Arthur Jones and Michael Brunson. She was also endorsed by current Milwaukee Fire Department Chief Aaron Lipski.

She also received endorsements from a number of elected officials including State Representatives Evan Goyke, Alderpersons Milele A. Coggs, Ashanti Hamilton, Mark Borkowski and current Milwaukee County Supervisors Sheldon Wasserman and Willie Johnson, Jr.

Johnson Jr. was at her victory party Tuesday night, as was pastor Steven Tipton and radio host Homer Blow. Ball walked in at approximately 9 p.m. with her husband Odell to applause.

Nation Consulting served as a consultant on Ball’s campaign.


More about the Fall 2022 Primary

Read more about Fall 2022 Primary here

Categories: MKE County, Politics, Weekly

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us