Jeramey Jannene

Gena Defeats Lena For Municipal Court Judge

Molly Gena trumps Sen. Lena Taylor in race to replace Derek Mosley.

By - Apr 4th, 2023 11:49 pm
Molly Gena. Molly Gena for Judge.

Molly Gena. Molly Gena for Judge.

While a top-of-the-ticket Wisconsin Supreme Court race dominated headlines and debate, a quiet race for Milwaukee Municipal Court was narrowly decided Tuesday.

Legal Action of Wisconsin managing attorney Molly Gena defeated State Senator Lena Taylor for a four-year term on the city’s court.

Gena, according to results posted early Wednesday morning by the Milwaukee County Election Commission, secured 50,622 votes (51.1%) to Taylor’s 47,904 (48.4%).

The judicial vacancy, the first on the three-judge court since 2007, was created by the resignation of longtime judge Derek Mosley.

Gena will serve a four-year term on the city’s court overseeing ordinance violations. Common offenses include speeding tickets, parking citations, building code violations and first-time OWIs.

The court plays a key role in suspending or reinstating driver’s licenses, with the vast majority of the court’s 50,000 cases in 2021 being for traffic violations. Gena’s work at Legal Action, which provides free legal services to low-income people, has included supporting driver’s license restoration for defendants.

Gena has worked for Legal Action since 2007, becoming its managing attorney in 2019. She will leave the organization for her new role, but Gena shouldn’t have a problem getting acclimated to the municipal court.

At a candidate forum, she said she had represented clients before the court for 15 years. “It’s been like a second place I’ve been working,” said Gena in a Jan. 25 event hosted by the Wisconsin Justice Initiative. She said she appeared before the court at least once a week for more than a decade. “I’ve really seen so much of the court’s practices and how they do impact everyone.”

Taylor’s acceptance of a $6,000 max donation from Youssef Berrada, the city’s largest landlord and evictor, became an issue in the last week. Gena told Urban Milwaukee she didn’t think Berrada wanted a new judge from Legal Action, which has defended hundreds of tenants from his eviction filings. The municipal court does not have oversight of evictions, but does oversee building code violations, which Gena vowed to enforce appropriately.

Gena is a 2007 graduate of the University of Wisconsin Law School.

Taylor’s senate term runs through January 2025. She has run unsuccessfully for county executive (2008), mayor (2020 and 2022) and lieutenant governor (2022, campaign canceled) since being elected to the Senate in 2004.

The Gena-Lena race wasn’t the only municipal contest on the ballot. Presiding Judge Phillip M. Chavez was re-elected to a four-year term. He ran unopposed.

Milwaukee municipal judges are paid $133,049 annually.

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Categories: Politics

One thought on “Gena Defeats Lena For Municipal Court Judge”

  1. Barb Hussin says:

    Hats off to the voters in this Spring election. They have chosen qualified judicial candidates from the Municipal to the Supreme Court level.

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