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Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014

Shepherd Express Endorsements: Vote Tuesday, Aug. 12

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We encourage Shepherd readers to head to the polls on Tuesday, Aug. 12, for the partisan primaries. Candidates from both major parties are on the ballot that day so that voters can determine who will be on the general election ballot in November for their party of choice.

The Shepherd has examined some of the most competitive races in the Democratic primary and has endorsed who we believe to be the most qualified candidates.

We urge you to head to the polls on Aug. 12 or, if it’s more convenient for you, to cast an in-person early absentee ballot through 5 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 8. You do not need a photo ID to vote. Remember: Voters can only cast a ballot in either the Republican primary or the Democratic primary. You cannot pick and choose your candidates from both parties on the same ballot.

For more information about your voter registration status, polling place or the candidates on the ballot, go to the Government Accountability Board’s website at gab.wi.gov/voters. Milwaukee voters can get information at the city’s election commission website at city.milwaukee.gov/election or by calling 414-286-3491.

Mary Burke for Governor

This is a very easy endorsement to make. We heartily support Mary Burke for the Democratic nomination for governor. As we have gotten to know Burke over the past year we have become more impressed with her ability to advocate for Wisconsinites who need help in our struggling economy. She is the real thing. Contrary to the false message promoted by the Republicans, she is not the little rich girl. She was on her way to college when her father started Trek and it was many years later when it was a successful business. She got where she has by being smart and working very, very hard.

Mary Burke has deep roots in Wisconsin. Her father founded Trek Bicycle in Waterloo in 1976 and after earning her degrees and working on the East Coast, she decided to come back home to Wisconsin and join him at Trek. She helped to expand Trek’s business in Europe, building markets for Trek bikes and, later, served as Gov. Jim Doyle’s Commerce secretary, when unemployment was at an enviable 4.8%. Since leaving that position, Burke has devoted herself to public service and philanthropy with a special focus on helping disadvantaged students.

Burke’s experience in the private and public sector makes her a formidable opponent to Gov. Scott Walker. Her plan to revive the state economy through a focus on industry clusters would be a welcome change from Walker’s brand of public disinvestment and crony capitalism. Burke is also a staunch supporter of public schools, affordable health care, full women’s rights, the environment, workers, students, and residents of communities that had been hit hard by the loss of family-supporting jobs.

Burke is such a tough opponent that Walker and his special-interest allies are flooding the airwaves with negative attacks on her record and Trek Bicycle’s business. But don’t believe Walker’s smears. Mary Burke is a smart businesswoman, an able public servant and a strong Democrat. We urge Shepherd readers to support her in the Aug. 12 Democratic primary and to vote for her again in the November general election.

John Lehman for Lieutenant Governor

We fully support state Sen. John Lehman to be Mary Burke’s running mate on the Democratic ticket. Lehman, a former public school teacher, has represented Racine in the state Legislature since 1996, although he had been knocked out—briefly—during the 2010 tea party wave. In 2012, he won a hard-fought fight and ousted the district’s conservative Republican senator in the recalls. The GOP legislators then redrew and gerrymandered that district to push Lehman out of office in 2014 and return it to Republican control.

Lehman has held positions of leadership in the Legislature and he thoroughly understands the pressing issues we will face in the coming years. We trust him with the state budget, job-creation efforts, environmental protection and education funding. We think that Mary Burke and John Lehman would make a formidable ticket in November, a high-quality combination of business experience and public service. Please vote for John Lehman for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor.

Jon Richards for State Attorney General

There are three highly qualified candidates vying to become the Democratic nominee for state attorney general. All of them would be able to serve the state of Wisconsin with distinction. All of them would be an improvement over the current attorney general, Republican J.B. Van Hollen. But Democrats can only vote for one candidate on Aug. 12 so the Shepherd is endorsing Jon Richards as the best Democratic candidate for state attorney general.

Richards, a longtime Assembly member representing Milwaukee, is well known to Shepherd readers because of his strong advocacy for women’s health, BadgerCare, marriage equality and the well-being of Lake Michigan, among other issues. He is the author of a bill that would require universal background checks on all gun purchases which, unfortunately, doesn’t have the backing of Republicans in the state Legislature, who are more concerned about pleasing the National Rifle Association than reducing gun violence in our neighborhoods.

Richards is thoroughly knowledgeable about the big issues facing Wisconsin, our criminal justice system and supportive agencies that keep our communities safe and healthy. He would be a thoughtful attorney general who will lead the Department of Justice with integrity. 

In addition, Richards has run a vigorous campaign in all corners of the state. That sort of professionalism and dedication bodes well for the general election race after the Aug. 12 primary. The Republican nominee, Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel, would be an attorney general in the vein of conservative J.B. Van Hollen. Schimel will have the backing of the Republican Party and the tea party crowd, out-of-state, wealthy benefactors like the Koch brothers who support the disastrous GOP agenda, and the right-wing talk radio guys like Charlie Sykes and Mark Belling. Richards will need all of the support he can muster to take on Schimel and his allies and win in November. But if his campaign for the Democratic nomination is any indication, Richards has what it takes to run a successful statewide campaign and become the next state attorney general. Vote for Jon Richards on Aug. 12.

Chris Moews for Milwaukee County Sheriff

Will Democrats turn up at the polls on Aug. 12 to vote for the true law enforcement leader in the Democratic primary?

That’s the question being asked around the county and it’s why we are urging Shepherd readers to vote for Chris Moews for Milwaukee County sheriff on Aug. 12.

Moews is the candidate with the character and skills needed to restore integrity to the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office. Moews is a Milwaukee Police lieutenant who thoroughly understands the negative impact the current sheriff’s actions have had on county residents’ safety and well-being and will work cooperatively with others in the city and suburbs to turn things around. Moews promises to respect the budgetary realities of Milwaukee County and not run up costs at taxpayer expense. And, finally, Moews would not draw negative attention to the Sheriff’s Office or Milwaukee County and would support our hard-working law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day.

Moews is running against longtime incumbent Sheriff David Clarke in the Democratic primary. We all know that Clarke is not a Democrat in word or deed but he has cynically calculated that the only way he can win in Milwaukee County is by running as one in the Democratic primary. To win, he relies on right-wing radio squawkers to inflame their listeners so that they will cross party lines to vote for Clarke. It’s been effective thus far, but it isn’t honest.

This year, Clarke has the support of right-wing radio, along with the far-right gun-rights organizations National Rifle Association (NRA) and Wisconsin Carry Inc.

But Clarke doesn’t have the support of many in the mainstream, for good reason.

The Shepherd and others in the mainstream could set aside Clarke’s partisan double-dealing if he was a good sheriff, but we can’t ignore his disastrous record in office. Clarke refuses to work with other community leaders or live within his budget. He’s currently on track to be $4.6 million over budget this year alone, which is an unacceptable slap in the face to county taxpayers. Clarke sows doubt in the ability of law enforcement to protect the community by advocating for a sort of Wild West-style vigilantism. He shut down the vital gun, gang and drug units and the witness protection program, which leaves our law enforcement agencies and neighborhoods without an umbrella organization to coordinate activities and protect residents. He’s detained immigrants so that they can be deported, even when he wasn’t required to do so and as a result has potentially violated their constitutional rights. And he engages in childish stunts, such as accusing County Executive Chris Abele of having “penis envy” and posting deputies (working on overtime) at the courthouse entrances to watch others conduct security checks.

Clarke’s time in office has to end now.

Chris Moews has the Shepherd’s full support in the Democratic primary. We ask our readers to make him the next Milwaukee County sheriff on Aug. 12.

Dave Leeper for State Treasurer

Although this race has gotten little attention, the winning candidate does have the power to make some changes in our economy. That’s why the Shepherd is endorsing Dave Leeper for the Democratic nomination for state treasurer.

Dave Leeper may not be a household name but he is someone worth getting to know. He comes from a long line of public servants and good progressives. He is the son of former state Rep. Midge Miller, a legendary activist on behalf of women and peace issues, and is the brother of state Sen. Mark Miller of Monona, former minority leader of the state Senate. Leeper is a former Green County district attorney with a strong sense of community service. He’s helped to set up a safe home for victims of domestic violence, worked to address child abuse, and served as a peacemaker and human rights advocate in Mozambique and Ukraine.

Leeper would bring these community-first values to the office of the state treasurer. He wants to create a Wisconsin State Bank, akin to the one in North Dakota, to keep money in the state. His proposal calls for returning any surplus from the state bank to the state and local governments to reduce taxes.

We like Dave Leeper’s ideas to use this office for the public good and urge Shepherd readers to learn more about him and his campaign before voting for him on Tuesday, Aug. 12, in the Democratic primary for state treasurer.

Marina Dimitrijevic for Assembly District 19

State Rep. Jon Richards’ decision not to seek re-election to the state Assembly so that he can run for attorney general has opened up a rare opportunity for Milwaukee Democrats. Assembly District 19 is home to some of the best assets that Milwaukee has to offer. It encompasses the lakeshore neighborhoods of Bay View, the Third Ward, parts of Downtown and the East Side and the UW-Milwaukee campus. The district’s constituents demand more of their state representative than just a solid Democratic vote. They want a strong, progressive leader.

The primary campaign for this vacant seat has attracted four highly qualified Democrats: District Director for state Sen. Larson, Jonathan Brostoff; former Assistant District Attorney Dan Adams; Milwaukee County Board Chair Marina Dimitrijevic; and labor attorney Sara Geenen. All of these candidates have the ability to fill the shoes of Richards and are very passionate about serving Milwaukee in the Assembly.

Because of the importance of this race to Shepherd readers and the composition of the Milwaukee delegation going forward, we expanded our endorsement panel to include a cross-section of 25 community leaders who live and work in the district. We asked the committee members to provide their first, second and third choices and any comments on the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates. We weighted the three rankings and tallied these weighted numbers and carefully considered the comments. One candidate came out the very clear winner and that was Milwaukee County Board Chair Marina Dimitrijevic.

What clearly set Dimitrijevic apart from the others was the fact that she has been tested in these trying political times, delivering progressive legislation on the county board despite obstacles from the former and current county executives. She has served in and actually led a legislative body, the county board, so she will be ready to serve on Day #1.

Dimitrijevic is the author of the county’s Greenprint energy-efficiency plan, which won unanimous approval from the board and was signed by then-County Executive Scott Walker, and she’s ushered through domestic partnership benefits, the new living wage ordinance, nondiscrimination policies, a deal between the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Milwaukee County War Memorial, and a highly effective job-training initiative, among other things. She’s stood her ground with both Walker and County Executive Chris Abele, who most Milwaukee County Board observers feel bears the overwhelming share of the responsibility for the current fractured state of county affairs. While the other candidates point to what they’d like to do in office, Dimitrijevic can point to what she’s already done.

In addition to these accomplishments, Dimitrijevic’s time as board chair has familiarized her with all corners of the county, the need to create jobs in Milwaukee, the vast safety net needs of our community, and the crisis caused by the state’s lack of investment in transit, public education, and cultural assets and amenities.

Milwaukee has rarely seen a candidate as highly qualified and experienced as Dimitrijevic in their first run for the Legislature.

The Shepherd heartily endorses Marina Dimitrijevic for Assembly District 19.

David Bowen for Assembly District 10

We are enthusiastically supporting David Bowen for Assembly District 10, which encompasses the North Side, Shorewood and parts of Glendale. This is a hotly contested open seat that had been represented with great care by Sandy Pasch.

Bowen has proved during his short time on the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors that he has what it takes to build a winning coalition and get progressive legislation passed.

Bowen’s signature achievement is the county’s new living wage ordinance. This wasn’t easy but it was worth the effort. Despite obstacles from the county executive and conservative members of the board—and the usual hand-wringing from the business community—Bowen succeeded and his measure will ensure that employees of county contractors will be paid a living wage. That wasn’t easy to do in anti-worker era, and it shows that Bowen has the political skills and will to make life better for those who are struggling in this tough economy.

Bowen has been endorsed by Sandy Pasch, and we agree with her choice. We have no doubt that he will be able to build on his success on the county board to be a strong advocate for his constituents while serving in the Assembly.

We urge Democrats in Assembly District 10 to vote for David Bowen on Aug. 12.

Gwen Moore for U.S. Congressional District 4


We are recommending that Shepherd readers support Gwen Moore in the Democratic primary on Aug. 12. Moore is consistently on the side of her constituents in her voting and advocacy because she is thoroughly familiar with the reality of the lives of working parents and those on the margins. She is a strong supporter of Milwaukee’s struggling residents who rely on the safety net, no easy feat when GOP budget-cutters like Paul Ryan are calling the shots. Moore has also fought for consumer protections, veterans, public education and the rights of minorities, voters, women and students. Her influence has increased in Congress and we urge her to use that influence as she continues to fight on behalf of Milwaukee.

Leon Young for Assembly District 16

We are supporting state Rep. Leon Young in his bid for re-election to the state Assembly. Young has been a solid supporter of Democratic policies, especially the value of public education. We hope that he carries on the tradition of Lloyd Barbee, who had once held this seat and was one of the Assembly’s most passionate advocates for public education. We encourage Young to rise to the challenge to further Barbee’s legacy by being a leading light in the state Assembly on all matters of importance to Milwaukee, from public school funding to job creation, health care, civil rights and the environment.

JoCasta Zamarripa for Assembly District 8

We are calling on Shepherd-reading Democrats on the Near South Side to return JoCasta Zamarripa to the state Assembly. Zamarripa has been a very responsive representative and also a vocal advocate for immigrants, students and the LGBT community while in office and we believe that she well represents her constituents. Zamarripa deserves another term in office.

Rob Zerban for U.S. Congress District 1

Our endorsement for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Congress District 1 once again goes to Kenosha entrepreneur Rob Zerban, who stepped up and took on Rep. Paul Ryan in 2012, when Ryan also ran his high-profile and expensive campaign for vice president. The district encompasses the southern portion of Wisconsin, including Racine, Kenosha and Janesville.

We admire Zerban’s ability to learn from past experiences and become a stronger candidate. Zerban’s personal story is compelling. Unlike Ryan, Zerban did not grow up in wealth. In fact, he and his family utilized the public safety net that Ryan is trying to cut. Thanks to that assistance early in life, Zerban was able to attend the Culinary Institute of America and return to Wisconsin to launch two companies in the food industry. He has sold both and now is devoting his life to public service.

Zerban has solid progressive values and he is able to make the case for higher wages, universal health care, immigration reform and the safety net from a businessperson’s perspective. His background would be an asset in Congress and we have no doubt that he would be more devoted to his constituents’ needs than Ryan has been.

While Zerban’s Democratic challenger, filmmaker Amar Kaleka, is a high-quality progressive candidate, we prefer Zerban this year due to his experience and encourage Kaleka to continue to seek public office. We think that this is Rob Zerban’s year.

David Cullen for Milwaukee County Treasurer

We are endorsing David Cullen for Milwaukee County treasurer. Cullen has served his constituents well as a Milwaukee County supervisor and, previously, as a member of the state Assembly. He also served as president of the Milwaukee School Board from 1987-1990.

This is a primary for a special election to a vacant position, since the current County treasurer, Dan Diliberti, decided to retire after serving 10 years as treasurer.

Cullen, an attorney, joined the board just before Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele worked with conservative Republican legislators to gut the board’s power and enhance his own. Despite the board’s diminished power, Cullen was able to use his position as co-chair of the Finance, Personnel and Audit Committee to provide a check on the county executive. Cullen has pushed back on Abele’s “Vanna White” veto, which allows him to totally rewrite portions of the budget to his advantage, as well as Abele’s questionable contracts for janitorial and transit services and a highly paid consultant. In addition, Cullen trimmed the salaries of some of Abele’s top aides so that they would be more in line with their peers.

We think that David Cullen would serve the county well as treasurer. Support him on Aug. 12 in the Democratic primary.