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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Pedro Colon Would Be a Welcome Change as City Attorney

ENDORSEMENTS 2008

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To be quite honest, we were skeptical about state Rep. Pedro Colon’s desire to become Milwaukee city attorney. After all, it’s an overlooked—and we thought, nondescript and bureaucratic—office within city government. The position has been held for 24 years by Grant Langley, who has served the city without making waves (or an impression on voters).

But multiple conversations with Colon, and really listening to his plans for the office, have won us over. We enthusiastically support state Rep. Pedro Colonfor city attorney on April 1. We also understand why District Attorney John Chisholm strongly supports Colon.

Langley’s main argument for re-election is that he has the experience to lead the city attorney’s office for another term. It’s true that he is experienced. But it’s also true that he hasn’t made the most of the office, and that void has serious implications for the city. It’s also true that Milwaukeeans sometimes hang onto their leaders for far too long, and, in hindsight, that resistance to change merely makes problems more difficult to resolve.

In contrast, Colon would fully engage the city attorney’s office in settling some long-standing problems plaguing Milwaukee. This would not mean that Colon would “politicize” a position that is elected by the people, not appointed by the mayor or a committee. Rather, Colon’s ideas would take the city attorney’s office into the 21st century by working with other levels of government, especially on reducing crime and nuisance properties; training police officers to respect the rights of citizens while making arrests; fighting to fix the school choice funding flaw, which currently penalizes city taxpayers; finding fair solu- tions for residents who have had their driver’s licenses taken away; and personally advocating for the city when important lawsuits arise. Colon may not have Langley’s 24 years of experience in the position, but who does? And why should that automatically disqualify a credible candidate who has extensive experience in the legal community and in various levels of government? If we followed Langley’s argument that he’s the only one qualified to fill the position, then there would be no election at all and the city’s residents would have to wait until Langley decides that his time is up. As long as this position is an elected one, then voters must have a say in who is Milwaukee’s city attorney. That decision should not be made by the longtime incumbent.

We believe that Pedro Colon is the better choice for city attorney on April 1.

What’s your take? Write: editor@shepex.com.