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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

April 5th Election Endorsements

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Chris Abele for Milwaukee County Executive

The Shepherd Express is asking you to vote for Chris Abele for Milwaukee County executive.

However, if you were pleased with Scott Walker as county executive, then you should vote for state Rep. Jeff Stone (R-Greendale), who has made it very clear that he will continue Walker's policies in county government, just as Stone has vocally supported and consistently voted for all of the policies Walker has proposed as governor.

Actually, as county executive, Stone would be able to be even "more Scott Walker" than Walker because, as county executive, Walker had a moderating force in that he had a Democratic governor during his tenure. If Stone wins, he and his fellow Republican Walker together can make even more radical changes to our county. Remember, unlike a city, which has its own charter, counties in Wisconsin are totally a product of the state Legislature. The state Legislature can literally dissolve Milwaukee County if it chooses.

If, on the other hand, you have not been happy with the Walker administration and the Walker philosophy, then you should support Chris Abele. (For full disclosure, the Shepherd Express and the nonprofit corporation it created are suing Abele et al., but those issues will be decided in a Milwaukee County courtroom, as they should be.)   

This election is about something much bigger, and that is the future of our once-great Milwaukee County.

Although the county executive election is theoretically a nonpartisan position, this election clearly comes down to the choice of the Republican Stone or the Democratic Abele. The Shepherd has worked with Chris Abele, and we have had our differences, but he is definitely the better choice.

We have been contacted by Shepherd readers who say that they have a difficult time connecting with Abele for an array of reasons, but they don't support Stone's positions or his unquestioned support of Walker. These readers have considered not voting for county executive at all.

But the reality is that this election is very important and voters must make a choice. If you are unhappy with Walker's policies and don't vote, you are essentially helping Stone—and helping to continue Walker's policies in Milwaukee County. 

So despite his many shortcomings, we strongly encourage you to vote in the county executive race and to vote for Chris Abele. We cannot afford to have another conservative Republican county executive who does not believe in government. 

This is only a one-year term; an election for a full four-year term will be held next spring. However, if Democratic voters turn away from Abele and let a conservative Republican like Stone get elected, it will be difficult to defeat him in a year when he is up for re-election. Furthermore, there is much damage that can be done in just one year when he teams up with his Republican colleagues in Madison, who currently control all three branches of state government.   

If, on the other hand, Abele is elected, the Shepherd Express promises that we will monitor his administration very carefully and provide you with a critical analysis of what is happening at the county level.

So please vote on Tuesday, April 5, for Chris Abele.

Vote for a Stronger MPS Board: Terry Falk, Mark Sain, Meagan Holman

We're encouraged by the increased cooperation of the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) board of directors. Of course, that doesn't mean that all members should hold the same point of view. Rather, we want a full discussion of the issues facing this school district that doesn't degenerate into polarization or personality-based conflicts that prohibit the district from tackling some very serious problems.

The at-large seat, which has been held by Bruce Thompson for the past four years, covers the entire city and should represent the entire city—not just the wealthy business community, which typically contributes large amounts of cash to ensure that their preferred candidate wins. This year, refreshingly, both candidates are running more grassroots- and community-focused campaigns and they both promise to represent the parents and students of the district, not the power brokers.

While we are impressed by Susan Schmidt's community service and values, our endorsement goes to Terry Falk. Falk, who currently represents Bay View and the Southeast Side on the board, has decades of experience in public education and has been a board member during some of MPS's most difficult years. We think that sort of continuity is important during what promises to be an even more challenging and turbulent period, thanks to Gov. Scott Walker's cuts to public education.

On the Northwest Side, our pick for District 1 board member goes to Mark Sain, a former firefighter—he retired as assistant chief—and MPS parent and tutor. We like Sain's mix of leadership and management skills and community involvement.

In Bay View and the Southeast Side, Meagan Holman gets our endorsement for District 8, the seat that Falk is vacating to run for the at-large seat. Holman, an MPS parent, is a newcomer to politics but has been very active in her community. We like her commitment to public education and enthusiasm for serving the district.

Unfortunately, we aren't enthusiastic about either candidate running for District 2 on the near Northwest Side, so we aren't making an endorsement in this race between incumbent Jeff Spence and challenger Gerald Glazer. Let's hope some more-qualified candidates run for this seat in 2015.

Milwaukee County Circuit Court Branch 18

It's difficult to evaluate candidates for a judicial position, since judges don't want to telegraph in advance how they'd rule in certain cases. Voters want to know if they can get a fair trial before the judge, and, of course, the candidates promise that they will be fair and impartial in every case.

That's certainly the case in the race for Milwaukee County Circuit Court Branch 18, which is currently being filled by Pedro Colón, a former Democratic legislator who was appointed to the bench by then-Gov. Jim Doyle. On April 5, Colón faces Glendale Municipal Court Judge Christopher Lipscomb. Both candidates are accomplished, both have judicial experience, and both are committed to serving the residents of Milwaukee County. We think voters would get a fair trial before both judges, whether they're the plaintiff or the defendant. Therefore, we are endorsing both Pedro Colón and Christopher Lipscomb for Branch 18 of the Milwaukee County Circuit Court.  You can't lose.

Eyon Biddle for Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors District 10

The primary election for District 10 of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors attracted a slew of qualified candidates who pledged to represent the interests of Milwaukee's North Side. The primary winner, Eyon Biddle, gets our endorsement. As a community organizer and labor leader with SEIU, Biddle has shown that he is a strategic thinker, is willing to fight for Milwaukee's struggling workers and is committed to the city's future. At a time when the relationship between unions and local governments has been frayed, we think Biddle can build bridges between organized labor and county government to help solve the county's fiscal crisis.

Jason Haas for Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors District 14

Our endorsement for Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors District 14, which encompasses Bay View and the South Side, goes to community activist Jason Haas. In contrast to his opponent, a perennial candidate who supports extremist tea-party-type positions, Haas has shown that he's invested in the good of the community and is less ideologically rigid. We think that Haas will serve his community well and work hard to protect important county assets such as parks and the transit system.