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Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2008

Return John Weishan to the Milwaukee County Board

ENDORSEMENTS 2008

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Among the interesting debates in county government is the clash of ideas between Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker and Supervisor John Weishan, who represents District 16 on the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors. Walker can’t seem to stop irritating Weishan, who continually steps up to try to preserve the quality of life in the county while Walker just doesn’t seem to understand why services should be maintained, even if it means having to break his no-tax campaign pledge. On Feb. 19, primary voters on the county’s near South Side should re-elect John Weishan to the board to ensure that county residents have a strong advocate on their side.

One of the most visible dust-ups in 2007 involved a proposal sponsored by Weishan and Supervisor Gerry Broderick, who wanted to ask voters if they would support a 1% sales tax increase to reduce the property tax burden and support parks, transit and safety programs.

Weishan estimated the sales tax increase would bring in $120 million a year, much of it from residents of other counties. He reasoned that voters should have a say in the matter and provide direction to the board (and the county executive). The board passed the measure, but Walker vetoed it— possibly because he didn’t want to give voters the opportunity to rebel against his no-tax pledge. (The referendum would have appeared on the Feb. 19 ballot, when, if things had turned out differently, Walker could have faced a primary race.)

When the board failed to override Walker’s veto, Weishan was clearly frustrated. He charged that Walker had sold out his early supporters and now only repeats his no-tax mantra, which hasn’t solved the difficult problems the county faces. In fact, his hard-line stance has only continued them.

“The recalls were about accountability,” Weishan told the Shepherd last October. “And Walker has replaced that with ‘no taxes.’ That’s not what the public wanted. They want parks and transit and paramedics. He has interchanged the two and kind of pulled a fast one on the public.”

Weishan has the courage to fight for what he believes is right. We believe the majority of voters share his vision, and that’s why Weishan should be returned to the board. If Walker is re-elected in April, Weishan will continue to protect necessary county programs from debilitating cuts. And if challenger Lena Taylor defeats Walker, then Weishan will be able to put his time and energy into actually solving problems—and not just providing a check on Walker’s worst impulses.