Two Candidates Running For Vacant County Board Seat
Travis Hope and Caroline Gómez-Tom running for 14th District vacated by former supervisor Dyango Zerpa.
The vacant Milwaukee County Board District 14 has two candidates running to fill it.
The seat was previously held by former supervisor Dyango Zerpa, who resigned in January to “pursue other career opportunities,” according to a statement from his lawyer. Zerpa had been dogged by speculations of campaign finance impropriety and misuse of county funds in the months leading up to his decision to give up his seat.
Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley officially called for a special election on Feb. 14 in order to line up the primary with the already scheduled spring election on April 4. The general election will be held approximately one month later on May 2. The primary will only be necessary if three or more candidates register for the seat.
Travis Hope, a community organizer, was the first to officially throw his hat in the ring, filing a declaration of candidacy the same day Crowley called the election. The following day, Caroline Gómez-Tom, a professional healthcare advocate, registered her campaign with the commission.
Supervisory District 14 is one of two districts with a Hispanic-majority population created during redistricting in 2021. The long and narrow district begins in the north along W. Virginia Street in Walker’s Point and stretches south to W. Howard Avenue and Wilson Park. The district’s western boundary largely runs along S. 20th Street. The majority of its eastern edge is drawn along Interstate 94, the Kinnickinnic River and S. 1st Street.
Candidates for the seat have until Feb. 28 to file nomination papers with at least 200 signatures in order to get on the ballot.
Hope is a community organizer on the city’s South Side who has worked on the city’s Block Watch Council, the Southside Organizing Center and as president of the Kinnickinnic River Neighbors in Action since 2016. He’s also served on several local advisory board committees, including those for the Harbor District and Milwaukee Parks Foundation.
He told Urban Milwaukee that he is a lifelong Milwaukee resident, adding that he’s “raised my kids in many of the southside neighborhoods I grew up in.” He currently lives smack-dab in the center of the 14th District between Pulaski and Kosciuszko Park.
“I want to be county board supervisor of the 14th district to make sure the people have a voice and are represented and informed of what’s going on at the county board and that their concerns are being heard and taken into account when decisions are being made,” he said in an email to Urban Milwaukee. He added that he will be active “on a neighborhood level” so as to remain accessible to residents of the district.
Having participated in “hundreds of community cleanups,” he said he would organize similar events that also function as meetings with constituents “so they can talk to me before, during and after.”
Gómez-Tom is president of the City of Milwaukee Board of Health and also a community healthcare navigator working for Covering Wisconsin. She has also worked on community engagement with the Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers, according to a statement announcing her campaign.
Originally from Racine, Gómez-Tom lives with her husband in the Garden District neighborhood on the southern end of the 14th District. She received a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from UW-Madison.
“I am running to be a bridge between the community and the policies made at the county level that impact our day-to-day lives,” said Gómez-Tom. “I am used to being the only one at the table representing my community, but when I take a seat at the table, I will bring my entire community with me.”
Gómez-Tom also currently serves on the boards of the Milwaukee Latino Health Coalition, Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin, Kids Forward, and the UW-Madison School of Social Work Board of Visitors.
“I want every resident of Milwaukee’s south side – in fact, every resident of Wisconsin – regardless of race, gender, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, or immigration status, to feel safe and respected where they live, work, and play,” she said.
Update: Candidates have until Feb. 28, not March 7 as a previous version of this story stated, to collect nomination signatures. The election is May 2, not May 5.
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