Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

Pratt, Westmoreland and Taylor Win Council Seats

Andrea Pratt defeats David Bowen by very slim margin.

By - Apr 5th, 2023 12:35 am
Clockwise from top left - Andrea Pratt, Lamont Westmoreland, Odell Ball, Laressa Taylor, Annette Jackson and David Bowen. Photos from the candidates.

Clockwise from top left – Andrea Pratt, Lamont Westmoreland, Odell Ball, Laressa Taylor, Annette Jackson and David Bowen. Photos from the candidates.

Three new faces are headed to Milwaukee City Hall, with one winning a victory by only 17 votes.

Lamont Westmoreland, Larresa Taylor and Andrea Pratt will fill three vacancies on the Milwaukee Common Council. They’re the final three standing from a field of 20 candidates.

They’ll be sworn-in in the coming weeks and given immediate approval to vote on everything from liquor licenses to multi-million dollar development deals.

Pratt won the closest race of the night, eclipsing David Bowen by 17 votes. Bowen was up by 34 votes before the city submitted its absentee results through its central count process, which swung the results for Pratt (2,577 to 2,560).

The vote counts are unofficial results provided by the Milwaukee County Election Commission. The city’s own election commission still needs to certify the results in the coming days and the county commission will then complete its own canvass.

The gap in the Pratt-Bowen race could be subject to a recount. It is not small enough to be subject to a free recount because it exceeds the 0.25% threshold in state statute. The results released early Wednesday morning showed a 0.33% gap, allowing Bowen to request a recount if his campaign pays for it. State statute allows recounts to be requested for up to 1% gaps. Bowen did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.

Pratt will represent the city’s 1st District, which has been vacant since August when Ashanti Hamilton resigned after 19 years to become the director of the Office of Violence Prevention.

Pratt currently works for the city’s Office of Equity and Inclusion and previously served as an aide to Hamilton. She was a longtime Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) coordinator. She is the daughter of former council president and acting mayor Marvin Pratt.

Bowen is a former member of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors and the Wisconsin State Assembly. After announcing he would run for lieutenant governor in 2021, Bowen ultimately pulled out of that race and also didn’t run for reelection to the assembly seat he had held since 2015. In 2020, Bowen was one of the highest-profile participants in the racial justice marches in Milwaukee following the killing of George Floyd.

The district covers the far northeastern portion of the city.

Westmoreland Wins Easily

Lamont Westmoreland, an entrepreneur and high school basketball referee, cruised to victory on Tuesday night over Annette Jackson, a city worker. He will represent the 5th District, which has been vacant since Nikiya Dodd resigned for a private sector job in November.

The district covers the lower portion of the Northwest Side.

Similar to the six-way primary, Westmoreland won by a large margin. On Tuesday, he secured 66.19% of the vote.

Taylor Wins Close Race

Larresa Taylor, a long-time Milwaukee Public Schools educator, defeated Odell Ball, the husband of newly-elected sheriff Denita Ball. Taylor will represent the 9th District, which has been vacant since July when Chantia Lewis pleaded guilty to felony charges related to campaign finance fraud. Ball, a former basketball star, reports spending 30 years in education-related roles, including with MPS.

Taylor won 51.9% to 47.7% after finishing only three percentage points ahead of Amber Danyus (21% to 18%) in an eight-way primary. Ball won the primary with 24%.

Taylor’s win comes with a twist: she needs to move.

The new alderwoman has until the day she takes office to live in the district. According to state election records, she currently lives just east of Dineen Park on the northern edge of the 10th District. Previously she lived in the 2nd District, where she finished third in a five-way race in 2016 for the open council seat in 2016 (Cavalier Johnson ultimately won). Now she must move at least 2.5 miles north, past the entire 2nd District and into the 9th.

The 9th District, at the far northwestern edge of the city, is home to two hot-button issues: Northridge Mall and the site of a new youth prison.

Election Issues

The races weren’t without their share of pre-election day drama.

Absentee ballots in the Westmoreland-Jackson race were printed with the names in the wrong order, requiring manual checks to ensure the results from the scanned ovals match those of the printed names selected by the voter.

Then 21 voters that should have voted in the Bowen-Pratt matchup needed to vote again as their in-person absentee (early) ballots lacked the race. Their initial ballots didn’t include the race due to a wording issue in the Milwaukee Election Commission‘s guidance to poll workers and a tricky provision that has governed all five of the council special elections.

Under state law, the special elections took place according to the council’s 2012 district boundaries under which the prior officeholder was elected, not the 2022 district maps. Voters may live in new wards that are eligible to vote in the race, but on blocks within the ward that are outside the old boundaries, rendering them ineligible. The election commission’s instructions on which ballot to give certain voters contained a typo, resulting in the race being omitted from the ballot.

For the first time since Johnson became acting mayor in December 2021, the council will have a full complement of 15 voting members. Five of the 15 members are new faces, with Jonathan Brostoff and Mark Chambers, Jr. winning special elections last November. All 15 will need to run for re-election, should they so choose, next spring.

Council members are paid $73,222 annually to represent approximately 40,000 Milwaukee residents.

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Categories: Politics, Uncategorized

3 thoughts on “City Hall: Pratt, Westmoreland and Taylor Win Council Seats”

  1. Wardt01 says:

    There were so many highly qualified individuals at the start of the election, unfortunately only 1 of them got elected.

    Have high expectations of Westmoreland with a background in business, finance, SBA, & founded his own company. He states he’s willing to take action against vandalism & crime.

    Taylor – bio states she’s the lead union rep for MPS teacher’s union. Wow, wonder if she’ll be double-dipping on the pension now…. 1x for teacher & 1x for a common council? How bout looking into this for your readers Jeremay!

    Pratt – every gig on her resume has been pd for by MKE taxpayers, prob already on the path to a cushy 6 figure pension. Counting on her to be 100% dedicated to cutting the pension benefits which are crippling Milw.

  2. Wardt01 says:

    Hey Jeremay – West & Pratt have submitted campaign finance reports.
    Taylor is listed as “exempt” on the city’s campaign finance website.

    Can you or whoever is doing the UM political tracker write a piece on why Taylor is exempt from submitting campaign finance reports?

    A better question that should be answered is even if Taylor is exempt, why she hasn’t voluntarily filed reports to be 100% transparent…. given that the previous #9 alderwoman who Taylor is replacing is now a convicted felon due to her illegal campaign finance activities & theft

  3. Jeramey Jannene says:

    @Wardt01 – Based only on the pattern that is visible, her 2016 submissions and past similar situations – Taylor appears not to have opened an account to raise money so there is nothing to file about. A voluntary report wouldn’t work in that case because there is no campaign account.

    In the case of Lewis, she was filing false reports that weren’t likely detectable even if you had the public report.

    Taylor would at some point be eligible to receive her MPS pension from WRS, as would Ball, Pratt and any other employee that left before retiring.

    Pratt’s pension would not exceed $100k annually because she has never earned more than that amount. Votes to cut existing pension benefits are effectively barred under state and federal law. Votes to meaningfully change the city’s pension system would almost certainly need a state-enabling vote.

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