Lena Taylor Appointed to Milwaukee County Circuit Court
Long-serving state senator is latest Evers appointment to local circuit court.
Taylor will take over Branch 41 from Judge Audrey Skwierawski, who resigned to become the state court director.
“Senator Taylor is a committed public servant who has dedicated her life to pursuing justice for her community and the people of Wisconsin,” said Evers in a press release announcing the appointment. “I am confident that she will serve the people of Milwaukee County well as a circuit court judge.”
Taylor is a long-serving state legislator, first elected to the state Assembly in a 2003 special election and then state Senate in 2004. During her political career, Taylor has also run for mayor of the City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County Executive, municipal judge and lieutenant governor. She ran for mayor twice, losing to Tom Barrett in 2020 and Cavalier Johnson in 2022. Taylor faced electoral challenges from within her own party, too. In 2016, she defeated a primary challenge from then-Rep. Mandela Barnes for her Senate seat.
“It is with great honor that I both thank the people of the 4th SD for the opportunity to serve them since 2005 and Governor Evers for the opportunity to take my life experiences, constant quest for the truth, and unwavering commitment to equity and justice for all to the Circuit Court of Milwaukee County,” said Taylor.
Taylor is a native Milwaukeean, and has lived in and represented the neighborhood she grew up in during her time in the legislature. She is a graduate of UW-Milwaukee and Southern Illinois University–Carbondale School of Law. She began her career in 1993 working as a public defender. In 1996 she moved to private practice, opening a private practice on the city’s north side where she handled a range of cases including criminal defense, real estate law and family law.
“As a lifelong Milwaukee resident, Senator Lena Taylor has dedicated her life fighting for equal rights and justice while proudly representing the citizens and residents of her district,” said attorney Mark Thomsen of Gingras, Thomsen & Wachs, LLP in a statement. “Her life experiences, accumulated knowledge, and courage are now needed more than ever in our court.”
During her time in the legislature, Taylor authored more than 120 pieces of legislation, according to the governor’s office, and served on a number of committees in both houses, including as chair.
She also found herself more than once mired in controversy. Notably, she was removed from the Joint Finance Committee in 2018 over allegations that she had bullied members of her staff. The same year she also had an altercation at a Milwaukee Wells Fargo bank branch where she called a teller, who like Taylor is Black, a “house (N-word).” She was issued a citation for the matter.
Taylor was only the second Black woman elected to serve in the Wisconsin State Senate. She has pushed racial justice causes and criminal justice reform, including marijuana decriminalization, during her time in office.
“Senator Taylor has proven her commitment through her work when the cameras aren’t rolling, and no election is approaching,” said Rep. Evan Goyke in a statement. “This is the type of commitment and service I want in our judiciary.”
Taylor would have been up for re-election in the fall. Instead, she will face a nonpartisan, spring 2025 election for a full, six-year term as a judge. Circuit court judges are paid an annual salary of approximately $164,000.
A special election is expected to be called to fill Taylor’s Senate seat. She is expected to resign from the seat Friday.
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