Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

Chambers, Brostoff Sworn In As Aldermen

New council members welcomed by colleagues, face budget veto override vote next week.

By - Nov 16th, 2022 05:21 pm
Mark Chambers being sworn in by City Clerk Jim Owczarski. Jonathan Brostoff being sworn in by Mendel Shmotkin. Photos by Sophie Bolich.

Mark Chambers being sworn in by City Clerk Jim Owczarski. Jonathan Brostoff being sworn in by Mendel Shmotkin. Photos by Sophie Bolich.

Two new members are now officially part of the Common Council, welcome news for the approximately 80,000 residents who have gone without active representation for six months and for the sitting council members juggling quorum issues and extra committee assignments.

Mark Chambers and Jonathan Brostoff prevailed in special elections on Nov. 8 to fill seats most recently held by Mayor Cavalier Johnson and budget director Nik Kovac.

The newcomers were sworn in at City Hall Wednesday afternoon.

“I come to you as a humble individual,” said Chambers, the new second district representative. “This campaign was not easy… I knocked on 15,000 doors. We had great conversations. We had tough conversations.”

He won approximately 76% of the vote in the general election, defeating Jerel Ballard and increasing his vote share from the three-way August primary (59%).

Chambers thanked his family and friends for getting him to this point. He also praised his late friend Jamaul Jones, who as a pedestrian was killed in a 2021 car crash by a driver who was shot.

He pledged to be honest and frank with constituents.

“To members of the media… take it easy on me, I’m new,” said Chambers.

Generally speaking, the oddly-shaped second district runs from W. Good Hope Rd. south to W. Capitol Dr. and from N. 51st St. to N. 107th St. The bulk of the district falls between W. Mill Rd., W. Hampton Ave., N. 60th St. and N. 91st St. The district includes the Columbus ParkValhallaSilver SwanLittle Menomonee ParkwayMenomonee River HillsVogel Park and Westlawn Gardens neighborhoods.

Chambers, 36, is a longtime resident of the area, having grown up in the Westlawn Gardens public housing development. In announcing his campaign in May, he said his focus would be on public safety.

Attending the ceremony was most of the Common Council, Mayor Johnson, budget director Kovac, City Treasurer Spencer Coggs, Police Chief Jeffrey Norman, Fire Chief Aaron Lipski, Senator Chris Larson, representatives Supreme Moore Omokunde, Kalan Haywood II, Dora Drake and David Bowen, county supervisors Felesia Martin, Ryan Clancy and Peter Burgelis and County Clerk George L. Christenson.

Chambers was sworn in by City Clerk Jim Owczarski and Brostoff was sworn in by rabbi Mendel Shmotkin.

Brostoff A Political Veteran

Brostoff, 38, is a seasoned political veteran. He’s served in the Wisconsin State Assembly since 2015 and previously served as an aide at the county board, state senate and council.

“I will be a honey badger for the third district,” said the alderman. “Hardworking, tenacious, tough and very mission-focused.”

The district includes the East Side, most of Riverwest and the northern edge of Downtown. It runs from E. Edgewood Ave. and E. Keefe Ave. on the north to E. Juneau Ave. on the south, between Lake Michigan to the Milwaukee River and N. Pierce St.

The alderman praised his family, including wife Diana Vang Brostoff and three young children, and friends for their long-standing support.

Brostoff is well aware he’s stepping into a city facing major fiscal issues. “There is going to be no shortage of challenges coming forward,” said the new alderman. He also had first-hand exposure to reckless driving in the lead-up to the election. In May, a red-light runner crashed into his car, injuring Brostoff and fracturing his wife’s wrist. “I know that brief physical pain is nothing compared to what some members of the community are going through every single day, every week, every month, every year and that I have the opportunity to do something about and help.”

He will hold onto assembly seat until his replacement, Ryan Clancy, is sworn in in January. Clancy intends to keep his county board seat.

“The work that is in front of us is paramount,” said Brostoff.

Brostoff ran unopposed for the aldermanic seat, a far cry from Kovac’s first election which included an eight-way primary.

More Council Changes Coming, Including MIA Alderwoman

The 15-member council has been plagued with vacancies since Johnson’s election as mayor.

Special elections are expected to be called in the coming weeks to fill council seats vacated by Chantia Lewis (felony misconduct) and Ashanti Hamilton (appointed Office of Violence Prevention director). Alderwoman Nikiya Dodd is also expected to resign in the coming weeks and has resumed missing meetings after attending the Nov. 4 budget adoption meeting. The elections would coincide with the spring election cycle. The city has sought to avoid calling stand-alone special elections because they cost tens of thousands of dollars to administer.

Chambers and Brostoff face an important vote at their first full-council meeting on Nov. 22. The council will take up the mayor’s budget vetoes. With 13 members, nine council members would need to vote to override Johnston’s vetoes. The omnibus amendment, to which Johnson partially objects, originally passed with 10 votes.

The full council faces re-election in 2024 to a four-year term. The position pays $73,222 annually.

Sophie Bolich contributed to this report.

Categories: City Hall, Politics, Weekly

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