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Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012

Endorsements

Vote on Tuesday, Aug. 14

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Nikiya Harris for Senate District 6

In the hotly contested race to represent Senate District 6, the Shepherd's endorsement goes to Nikiya Harris.

Harris may not have the longest record in public service, or a family name that opens doors for her in politics.

But what Nikiya Harris does have is a strong sense of right and wrong and a willingness to stand up for Milwaukeeans, especially those who are most in need. We think that those traits will make her an effective legislator in Madison.

Harris has served on the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors since 2010 and very quickly learned how to be effective. She led the fight to allow up to 5,000 county residents to obtain a free birth certificate so that they could get a photo ID for voting. Thankfully, the voter ID law won't be in effect for this election, but Harris smartly realized that the law required those who did not have a valid ID to pay a fee for a birth certificate, which is an inappropriate poll tax and a barrier to voting for many low-income county residents. Her solution was a good one; it was a creative, immediate response to a potentially very serious issue.

Harris also shows strong support for public education, the environment and green jobs, and civil rights. We think that her experience on the board and for local nonprofits, as well as her academic background, will serve her well in the state Senate and inspire more young people—especially young African-American women—to run for office and increase their impact in the community, even if they are not from a famous political family. We urge voters to support Nikiya Harris on Aug. 14.

Daniel Riemer for Assembly District 7


On the West Side and West Milwaukee, in Assembly District 7, our pick goes to challenger Daniel Riemer. We believe that Riemer has the drive and fresh, progressive views that match the values of the residents in this radically redrawn district, which barely overlaps with the district long held by state Rep. Peggy Krusick. The new Assembly District 7 constituents will require a representative who is responsive and able to balance the concerns of and build support from very diverse people. We think Riemer is the best person for the job. And while Krusick has had some success in the state Legislature over the past 29 years, we feel that she is too controlled by conservative forces in her district, including talk radio, to reliably support issues that are of great importance to the Democratic Party. We think this district and the Assembly as a whole would benefit from Riemer's energy, ideas and values.

Sandy Pasch for Assembly District 10


There's been much talk about whether the residents of Assembly District 10 should vote for an African-American candidate simply because of that candidate's race. We disagree with that notion: Voting based on the color of one's skin is just plain racist. We encourage voters to support a candidate who can effectively fight for their interests in the state Legislature.

In Assembly District 10, that candidate is Sandy Pasch.

In her relatively short time in the state Assembly, Pasch has proven herself to be a leader. She was elected to the position of assistant Assembly Democratic leader in 2011. In 2010, this nurse-turned-lawmaker was able to get a bill enacted to require that insurance policies cover mental health and substance abuse issues just as they cover any other health issue. This issue had been discussed for years, but legislators had not been able to get enough support to pass a bill—until Pasch took the lead on it. As a result, our struggling friends and family members who suffer from various forms of mental illness are able to get the health care they need so they can live fully productive lives.

Pasch is also a strong supporter of women's reproductive rights, SeniorCare, BadgerCare and Family Care and President Obama's health care reform. She wants every child in Milwaukee—and Wisconsin—to receive a quality education at a fairly funded public school. She wants to reform the criminal justice system so that teens and nonviolent offenders are treated fairly and are able to turn their lives around and get out of the cycle of crime. Pasch also sees the value of green jobs to build Milwaukee's economy and reduce the state's reliance on polluting fossil fuels.

When you add it all up, Pasch is the best candidate to represent this district. Outgoing state Rep. Tamara Grigsby, who is one of the finest state legislators Milwaukee has ever sent to Madison, has chosen to endorse Pasch because she knows Pasch's record, character and commitment to Milwaukee.

We urge Shepherd readers to vote for state Rep. Sandy Pasch on Aug. 14.

Mandela Barnes in Assembly District 11

We are asking Shepherd readers in Assembly District 11 to strongly support community organizer Mandela Barnes, who is taking on state Rep. Jason Fields. As a former lead organizer for Milwaukee Inner-City Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH), Barnes has shown a commitment to the community, and we believe he will be responsive to Milwaukee residents rather than to conservative special interests, especially talk radio. Fields, on the other hand, has a knack for supporting causes that Republicans and conservatives love, even when these positions adversely affect Milwaukee—like voucher schools and the payday loan industry. We have no problem with people who work in a bipartisan manner and are able to build bridges across the aisle. But we do have a problem with legislators who are obstacles to progress, as Fields is.

In contrast, Mandela Barnes is devoted to the community, especially those who are most in need, and would be a breath of fresh air in the Assembly. He deserves a chance to represent Milwaukee in the state Legislature. As a community organizer, Barnes knows when and how to compromise to win what he can for his constituents.

La Tonya Johnson and Fred Royal in Assembly District 17

In Assembly District 17, we are endorsing both La Tonya Johnson and Fred Royal. La Tonya Johnson leads the unionized day care providers, although Gov. Scott Walker stripped them of their collective bargaining rights. She thoroughly understands the experiences of Milwaukee's working families and the big-picture battles in Madison. Fred Royal also is an impressive candidate. He has a long career in manufacturing and, after earning his master's degree in public administration, he now works at the Milwaukee HIRE Center and serves on various boards. Royal has a strong sense of how to create jobs and also has great values.

Evan Goyke in Assembly District 18

We're sorry to hear that state Rep. Tamara Grigsby is stepping down from the state Legislature because she was an effective leader and has unshakable personal integrity. Milwaukeeans are now faced with electing a new representative who will serve them as well as Grigsby has. There are many qualified candidates running in this race, but we believe that the best candidate is Evan Goyke.

Goyke is ready to serve on Day 1. He has a thorough knowledge of the issues facing Milwaukee and Wisconsin and already has detailed plans to fix our problems. We especially like his willingness to take on issues in the criminal justice system, issues that he faces every day as an assistant public defender. We also like his steadfast support for public schools and his plan to end taxpayer support for the voucher school system unless it is just as accountable as the public school system.

Endorsements for Milwaukee's Assembly Races


On the near South Side, we recommend JoCasta Zamarripa for re-election in Assembly District 8. She's been a strong supporter of the DREAM Act, women's reproductive rights and the LGBT community. We feel that longtime Assembly District 9 state Rep. Josh Zepnick has earned another term in the Legislature. He's a moderate Democrat who matches the views of South Side voters.

State Rep. Fred Kessler deserves re-election in Assembly District 12. Kessler is a strong advocate for public education, civil rights and criminal justice reform, and he should be returned to the state Assembly.

In Assembly District 15, which had been held by state Rep. Tony Staskunas and now has utterly changed due to redistricting, Chuck Garrigues gets our nod. While his Democratic challenger has dropped out of the race, she is still on the ballot. We support Garrigues, who is an engineer and also served as mayor of Elmhurst, Ill., before moving to the Milwaukee area.

On the East Side, state Rep. Jon Richards is unopposed. We value his ability and his work on health care, especially his desire to fully implement federal health care reform in Wisconsin. On the South Shore, state Rep. Christine Sinicki does not have a Democratic challenger. She is a strong supporter of women's health and public education. She will face the winner of the Republican primary in November. 
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