Graham Kilmer
MKE County

Anne O’Connor Running for North Shore County Board Seat

O'Connor is co-founder of Bay Bridge, an advocacy organization focused on racism and segregation.

By - Dec 7th, 2023 03:57 pm

Anne O’Connor. Photo by Samer Ghani and courtesy of Anne O’Connor.

A candidate has entered the currently wide-open race for the Milwaukee County Board seat Sup. Liz Sumner plans to vacate in 2024.

Anne O’Connor, the co-founder of a non-profit community advocacy organization, recently filed to run for county board supervisor in District 1. This is O’Connor’s first run for office.

Sumner is running for the Milwaukee County Comptroller in 2024 and is not seeking re-election to the board.

District 1 is comprised of the county’s north shore municipalities including Shorewood, Whitefish Bay, Fox Point, Bayside, River Hills and part of Glendale. County supervisors are elected to a two-year term. The part-time, non-partisan position pays $25,924 annually. The county board is the legislative branch of county government.

O’Connor is a Whitefish Bay resident. She is a graduate of UW-Madison, earning a bachelor’s in business administration, and has a master’s degree in Art History from UW-Milwaukee. In 2019, she co-founded Bay Bridge, a nonprofit advocacy organization, with two other Whitefish Bay residents Kathy Wurza and Jennifer Koop Olsta.

Since 2014, O’Connor has worked as a community engagement specialist with Bay Ridge Consulting, an urban planning firm, helping community organizations and individuals around Milwaukee County with environmental stewardship and stormwater management strategies. Prior to that, O’Connor said, she worked in fund development for public radio and education.

O’Connor told Urban Milwaukee that she’s been engaged in advocacy work for the past 15 years and this has allowed her to hear the concerns of many county residents.

“I’ve had the occasion to see what issues are important to people here and important to the county,” O’Connor said.

If elected, O’Connor said she would like to work on improving access to stable housing and homeownership for county residents. “It’s proven that if you have stable housing you have better health outcomes, better education,” O’Connor said.

O’Connor said she has worked on advisory committees for safer streets in the past and is interested in taking on reckless driving as a supervisor. The county has “an excellent program in place,” she said, with its Vision Zero goal to have zero traffic fatalities by 2028.

An overarching policy goal O’Connor said she is interested in working on is eliminating racial disparities. “Because we do have across the county, a huge disparity in outcomes for folks,” she said, “and Milwaukee County has already done a great job of trying to use a racial equity lens on everything.”

Her organization, Bay Bridge, was founded in 2019 to try to raise awareness of racism and racial segregation in Whitefish Bay and Milwaukee County.

O’Connor joined a UW-Milwaukee public history initiative aimed at mapping and recording Milwaukee’s history of racially restrictive covenants. Researchers pore over local property deeds looking for these covenants that have prevented Black families from purchasing or leasing homes in towns like O’Connor’s own Whitefish Bay.

O’Connor is currently the only candidate for District 1. If two more candidates enter the race, there will be a primary in February. Otherwise, the election for District 1 will be on April 2, 2024.

To appear on the ballot, candidates have until Jan. 2, 2024 to file for candidacy and submit nomination papers with at least 200 signatures.

Correction: A previous version of this story called Bay Ridge Consulting a volunteer organization. It is an urban planning firm.

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Categories: MKE County, Politics

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