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Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2008

D’Amato Leaves the Common Council

East Side and Riverwest will elect a new Third District represen

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East Side Alderman Michael D’Amato surprised many observers by deciding not to run for re-election to the Milwaukee Common Council, despite a war chest of about $150,000 and a close relationship with influential developers in the district. Issues to be resolved include development plans, safety, preservation of the Milwaukee River and quality of life in the district.

Eight candidates are vying for this open seat on Feb. 19. They are, in alphabetical order:

John Connelly: Connelly is a staff assistant in the Community Prosecution Unit in the District Attorney’s Office; prior to this position, he worked for former Mayor John Norquist for four years. Connelly is most concerned with public safety in the district, and would like to set up a Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) substation at UW-Milwaukee. He said he supports economic development that does not harm the Milwaukee River and Lake Michigan. Connelly said that residents must be part of the decision-making process for any large development. He has been endorsed by David Riemer. For more: www.connellyforalderman.com.

Sura Faraj: Faraj is a co-founder and publisher of the arts and advocacy paper Nerve House, and a former small-business owner and Realtor. Faraj supports sustainable development and would encourage smallbusiness owners and entrepreneurs “who enhance not only our economy but our sense of community as well.” She said that too many development projects were conceived narrowly—i.e. upscale condos—and said she’d support more homeownership and protection of the Milwaukee River. Faraj has been endorsed by MPS Board Member Jennifer Morales, former Third District Alderwoman Larraine McNamara-McGraw, George Martin of Peace Action, and many others. For more: www.suraforchange.com.

Patrick Flaherty: Flaherty, currently on leave from his position as the director of Center Advocates, said that the most pressing issues facing the Third District are economic development, preservation of greenspace and public safety. He said while Milwaukee has been focused on attracting new, wealthy residents, “my first allegiance is to the people who already live in the city.” He said that proposed developments should include full transparency and resident participation in decision-making; preserve livability, neighborhood character and greenspace; and require community benefits when projects use public resources. Flaherty has been endorsed by state Rep. Jon Richards, state Sen. Tim Carpenter, state Sen. Jeff Plale, Milwaukee County Labor Council and SEIU Local 1. For more: www.patricknewleadership.com.

Daniel Fouliard: Fouliard is a design specialist for AT&T and says he will use his creativity and efficiency to achieve better results on the Common Council. He said the most pressing issues in the district are snow removal and parking and would advocate for a carsharing pilot program to reduce the number of vehicles on the streets. He said he would press for more federal funds to buy land along the Milwaukee River to be used as a view-shed, nature preserve and hiking trail. For more: www.fouliard.org.

Nik Kovac: Journalist Kovac has been knocking on doors in the district for six months, before D’Amato bowed out, and says that the most pressing issues are safer streets and homes; wise use of tax dollars leading to responsive delivery of services; and development that will stand the test of time. He said development issues should not be based on next year’s tax base, but on the next generation’s quality of life. Kovac is active in his neighborhood’s block watch and safety meetings and as alderman would serve as the bridge between these groups and the MPD. He supports protective zoning for the Milwaukee River, as well as increased acceptance of rain barrels and green roofs. For more: www.kovac08.com.

Sam McGovern-Rowen: McGovern-Rowen is the current legislative aide to D’Amato and said that experience has given him a unique perspective on the duties of an alderman. He calls himself an urbanist who supports growth that increases the tax base with family-supporting jobs and also preserves the environment.

McGovern-Rowen takes credit for ushering the Resident Preferred Parking (RPP) permit through the Common Council and said he would help encourage homeownership, especially near UWM. He said he supports UWM’s growth elsewhere in the city because it would take pressure off the East Side. McGovern- Rowen has been endorsed by D’Amato, Milwaukee County Supervisor Gerry Broderick, the Milwaukee Police Association, Lynde Uihlein and Dennis Conta.

For more: www.votesam08.org.

Matt Nelson: Nelson established the city’s first 100% Fair Trade coffee shop, Brewing Grounds for Change, on Farwell Avenue. Nelson is a longtime community activist who co-founded the Freedom Now! Collaborative; he is currently involved with the Mitchell Street Farmers Market Coalition, the Milwaukee Police Accountability Coalition and the Milwaukee Transit Riders Union. He said development should create family-supporting jobs, preserve the environment, provide equal opportunity, follow neighborhood plans and include bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly designs. Nelson said he would look into public ownership and protection of the Milwaukee River. For more: www.nelsonforalder.org.

David Schroeder: Small-business owner Schroeder is most concerned by the “ever-increasing taxes that seem to be paying for ever-decreasing services and the trend to privatize public services under the guise of efficiency and fiscal restraint.” He said that parking has been an issue for years, and the best option is the development of rapid mass transit. Schroeder said that tensions near UWM can be reduced if homeowners and students can try to become a community, and if the city enforces ordinances that are already on the books that deal with problem properties. He said that any crime-fighting efforts for the Third District must be part of a larger citywide plan.

Look for the Shepherd Express endorsement for the Third District in the Feb. 14 issue. What’s your take? Write: editor@shepex.com.