Graham Kilmer
MKE County

First Majority-Women Milwaukee County Board in History Sworn In

Board chair Marcelia Nicholson hangs onto the position for a third-term.

By - Apr 16th, 2024 09:50 am
Milwaukee County Courthouse. Photo by Graham Kilmer.

Milwaukee County Courthouse. Photo by Graham Kilmer.

For the first time in county history, a majority of supervisors on the Milwaukee County Board are women.

On Monday, returning supervisors on the 18-member board were sworn in alongside four new colleagues following the April 2 election: Justin Bielinski, Sky Capriolo, Jack Eckblad and Anne O’Connor. With Capriolo’s election to District 15, replacing former supervisor Peter Burgelis, 10 members of the board are women.

The new board will not meet again until next month, when the first meeting cycle of the new legislative session begins.

Nicholson Reelected to Board Chair

Marcelia Nicholson hung onto her position as chair of the Milwaukee County Board for a third-term, but this time faced a challenger in Sup. Felesia Martin.

During the first board meeting of every new legislative session, the board votes to elect a chairperson and two vice-chairs.

Nicholson and Martin both put themselves up for job. While Nicholson won with supervisors voting 13 to 5 to re-elect her, the contest was an indication that she does not enjoy the same level of support as two years ago when no one rose to challenge her for the chair. The five supervisors who voted against her chairship and in favor of Martin — Deanna Alexander, Priscilla E. Coggs-Jones, Patti Logsdon, Kathleen Vincent and Martin — all served during the last term.

“It’s no secret that we had a very challenging last few years,” Nicholson said after being re-elected, adding that the board had to take “very hard votes” and overcome “difficult interpersonal conflicts.”

In 2023, the county board voted in favor of a new 0.4% sales tax and pension reform plan. And in recent months, the board debated a contentious resolution on the war in Gaza and voted on controversial pay raises for elected officers. “We have the opportunity to do the best work we’ve ever done for Milwaukee County,” Nicholson said.

Sup. Steven Shea was elected vice-chair, defeating Sup. Steve Taylor. And Sup. Coggs-Jones was elected second vice-chair

Most of the county board’s work is done in committee and committee assignments remain a key way that a chairperson builds and wields power on the board. During the last term, Nicholson shuffled the board’s committee leadership leaving Sup. Sheldon Wasserman as the only supervisor to retain a committee chair from the previous session.

Supervisors are not assigned to committees democratically, and the chair has complete discretion over what committees they sit on. Assignments are typically announced shortly before the start of the first meeting cycle.

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Categories: MKE County, Politics

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