Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

Council, City Officials Celebrate Inauguration

'When you go into public service, you should feel the weight and responsibility.'

By - Apr 17th, 2024 03:56 pm
The 2024-2028 Milwaukee Common Council - front row, left to right - Mark Chambers, Jr., Russell W. Stamper, II, Andrea Pratt, Sharlen P. Moore, Marina Dimitrijevic, JoCasta Zamarripa, Jonathan Brostoff, Larresa Taylor, Milele A. Coggs, José G. Pérez, Peter Burgelis, DiAndre Jackson, Scott Spiker, Robert Bauman and Lamont Westmoreland. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The 2024-2028 Milwaukee Common Council – front row, left to right – Mark Chambers, Jr., Russell W. Stamper, II, Andrea Pratt, Sharlen P. Moore, Marina Dimitrijevic, JoCasta Zamarripa, Jonathan Brostoff, Larresa Taylor, Milele A. Coggs, José G. Pérez, Peter Burgelis, DiAndre Jackson, Scott Spiker, Robert Bauman and Lamont Westmoreland. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The Common Council chamber at City Hall was the center of the Milwaukee political universe Tuesday.

Surrounded by family and friends, all 15 council members, newly-elected city attorney Evan Goyke, newly-elected comptroller Bill Christianson and treasurer Spencer Coggs were sworn in. Mayor Cavalier Johnson took in the ceremony just after his own swearing at the rotunda.

The charter meeting, which formally kicks off the 2024-2028 cycle, is a day of optimism.

“As we look to the challenges ahead, I am confident that we once will succeed by following the same path we forged before: hard work, representing our constituents’ best interest and most importantly, maintaining strong relationships with one another,” said Common Council President José G. Pérez, who was reelected by his peers to the council leadership position earlier in the meeting. “Milwaukee is a tapestry woven from diverse threads, each as integral as the next. Embracing this diversity is not just an option, but a necessity for our survival.”

Only four of the 15 council members had previously participated in an in-person charter meeting, with the 2020 event rendered a virtual affair due to its occurrence early in the pandemic and the subsequent dramatic council turnover occurring in 2022 as Johnson was elected mayor.

The veterans encouraged their new colleagues to remain focused.

“It is truly humbling to be an elected official. Sometimes, we lose sight of that, sometimes we can get complacent, sometimes it seems easy, but it really isn’t,” said Ald. Robert Bauman, the council’s senior member, who was participating in his sixth inauguration. “We should truly feel honored that we are entrusted by fellow citizens to represent them, to spend their money, to make decisions that affect their quality of life every single day.”

“It is the responsibility of us all to give back to the community that has cemented us in who we are,” said Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs, thanking her family and her constituents. “My greatest wish is that the work I do helps to build a better Milwaukee and that I am able to leave things more beneficial than I inherited them.”

“I am here at this moment, at this time, for a specific assignment, and I am more than ready,” said Ald. Sharlen P. Moore, one of the three new members along with DiAndre Jackson and Peter Burgelis.

Five additional members have been on the council less than two years and are beginning their first full term.

“Allow me to reintroduce myself,” said Ald. Andrea Pratt, quoting Jay-Z. She joked that many think she was only born a year ago when she won a special election by 17 votes. “I didn’t get here by luck or legacy, I am here because I am a force to be reckoned with driven by an abiding love for the community I serve.”

Pratt, the 1st district representative, set the tone by thanking her children and parents, including former acting mayor and council president Marvin Pratt, council staff and constituents.

“When you go into public service, if you’re doing it right, you should feel the weight and responsibility,” said Ald. Scott Spiker. “I wake up every morning worried about letting 40,000 people down.”

“This body will ensure every voice is heard and respected,” said Burgelis.

“I just want to start by thanking my three families, my friends, my labor community family and my real family,” said Jackson, a former MasterLock employee. “When I started this process, my friends were like, when they first heard me speak, ‘I didn’t know you were smart.’ … I’m a nerd actually.”

Goyke spoke about strengthening the City Attorney’s Office’s culture while praising its employees.

“I say that I am proud to work with you. It was my name on the ballot, but we are a team,” said Goyke, the lone official to knock off an incumbent. “We are a law firm, a partnership and we will grow to be a family.” He thanked his predecessors, Tearman Spencer and Grant Langley, but noted that he wished to deviate from Spencer’s controversial tenure and wanted to be defined by “open and collaborative communication” with the council.

Christianson, the city’s new fiscal watchdog, spoke about the need to work across the boundaries between various parts of city government.

“For residents who we ultimately serve, I think they simply care about results and they don’t pay a heck of a lot of attention to some of these dividing lines we all see,” said the new comptroller, who served as the deputy under Aycha Sawa. “I think we are best able to serve the residents of the city by recognizing that failure or the success of any one of our programs or services reflects on all of us. And I think there is a shared responsibility among all of us in city government across these boundaries in the interest of the residents we serve.” He also graciously praised two late coworkers from his time in the city’s budget office, Mark Nicolini and Thomas J. Bell.

Spencer Coggs, the first African American elected to citywide office in Milwaukee, spent much of his speech reflecting on his legacy and honoring his family. “I love this city… this city has embraced me, it has embraced my family, and they have loved me back.”

Treasurer since 2012 and, prior to that, a member of the Wisconsin State Legislature since 1983, Coggs, 74, said he is the longest-serving elected official at City Hall even though he doesn’t feel it. Coggs reminded the other elected officials in the room that when they felt overwhelmed they should remember they were put into office by thousands of voters. “That means they wanted you and they knew that you could do the job. So always remember that,” said Coggs.

See our earlier coverage for more on how the new council is the most diverse in city history, how Pérez earned his first full term as council president and what major issue Johnson plans to engage in.


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Categories: City Hall, Politics

One thought on “City Hall: Council, City Officials Celebrate Inauguration”

  1. Colin says:

    Exciting moment! Looking forward to what comes up next in council meetings.

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