Civil Rights leader Al Sharpton’s radio show is called “Keepin’ It Real!” Anyone who listens to his radio show, watches his television show and follows his controversial career knows he does just that…keep it real!
Well, in our endorsements for the April 3, 2012 elections, we had to do the same thing the Reverend Al does: Keep it real.
Simply put, these elections for mayor, alderman, county supervisor, and judge present some challenges for us as it relates to endorsing candidates we feel represent the interests of their constituents.
There are a plethora of new faces with fresh and innovative ideas they want to implement to solve the problems of joblessness, high taxes, dwindling city services, law and order.
Then there are the challenges posed by the state legislature in its recent budget that has negatively impacted—in some cases made worse—all the aforementioned.
While there seems to be a surge in younger candidates that are part of a new generation of individuals who want to do more than articulate the problems—they want to solve them—there is still a place for experience.
In determining our endorsements, we weighed, measured, proven experience against youth and untapped potential.
In some of the races, we’ve determined that experience trumps potential.
The reality is there are political offices that are too important to supplant proven leadership that are in positions of power and influence.
These individuals have done good things for our community and must be retained in their current positions in order to do more.
With that said, the Community Journal endorses…
For reasons of reality two races have us supporting established and tested incumbents over challengers who have energy and ideas, but not the experience necessary to be immediately effective servants of the people.
One of the two races is the mayoral race between incumbent Mayor Tom Barrett and challenger Edward McDonald.
During the campaign McDonald, a long-time community activist, presented fresh ideas on a number of city issues in the Community Journals series in which we asked candidates their position on several issues, especially job creation with his “Build Milwaukee” initiative.
But the current mayor has a record of job creation (albeit many of them summer jobs for teens) and has pushed a number of initiatives focusing on fatherhood, infant mortality, a get-tough posture on guns and violence, education and introduced a city budget that managed to stave off the onslaught of Gov. Scott Walkers draconian policies meant to severely cripple our city.
In this case experience matters more than innovative ideas. That is why we endorse Barrett for another term as this city’s chief executive.
Another race where experience is preferred over ideas and energy is in the 15th Aldermanic District race between incumbent Willie Hines and Milwaukee County Supervisor Eyon Biddle, Sr.
Biddle, still relatively fresh (in political terms) from his board victory several months ago, is sacrificing his 10th supervisory board seat to challenge Hines, who is also Common Council president and in line to become mayor if Barrett runs and wins a recall election against Walker.
Like McDonald, Biddle represents a new paradigm in politics of younger individuals with fresh visions and “can do” energy.
But again, it’s about experience, of having the knowledge honed from years of dealing with the subtle and not so subtle nuances of political give and take on the council.
Hines has used that experience to gain consensus among the other alderman to push initiatives that have held the reins tight on taxes, maintained city services, creates new housing and economic opportunities and jobs in the community.
If Biddle were to win, he would not have any immediate influence on policy and would have to “learn who the players are” on the council. Plus he would not automatically become council president.
That position would go to another alderman who may not have our community’s best interests at heart, nor be as willing to work with the mayor to make sure our issues are respected.
Yes, Biddle has good ideas, but Hines has that experience, savvy and ability to rally other alderman to push through needed legislation. We pick Hines to retain his aldermanic and council president seats.
In the aldermanic sixth district race between Milele Coggs—the incumbent—and Ieshuh Griffin, our choice is Coggs. Why? Well, it’s not the name that makes her the choice.
Her background as an attorney, running political campaigns other than her own, and her time on the council shepherding various initiatives related to business development and housing makes her an easy choice.
Our choice for the sixth district is Coggs.
If there is a place for change in this election it is in the northwest side of the city in district 9. That is where challenger Ray Harmon is running against incumbent Robert Puente.
Harmon has extensive public and private sector experience, serving as director of the Milwaukee Urban League’s economic development initiative.
Harmon was also director of former Gov. Jim Doyle’s Milwaukee office and worked for WHEDA.
It’s these experiences and more (which you can read about in his Election Watch 2012 profile on the front page) that makes him our choice for that aldermanic office over the incumbent.
Change is definitely needed in the ninth district given the downward spiral it is in.
We believe Harmon will be the catalyst for a revival of an area with loads of economic potential.
Aldermen Ashanti Hamilton, Joe Davis, Sr. and Willie Wade are running unchallenged.
This election is a toss-up because our choice would have been Milwaukee County Board Supervisor Johnny Thomas, who faces bribery charges.
There are numerous questions surrounding his case, which will have to be explored at a later date.
State Senator Spencer Coggs is our hands-down choice as treasurer. Aside from being a state legislator, Coggs has experience handling the finances of a large organization.
He has been the treasurer of the National Labor Caucus and the National Black Caucus of State Legislators. During his time in the position with the latter organization, Coggs brought it from being in the red to solvent…in one year!
Coggs also wants to bring innovation to the office by expanding online and off-site tax payments, institute financial literacy programs and forestall foreclosures.
On April 3 put your money on Spencer Coggs for treasurer.
County Board Supervisor—
The race to replace retiring Supervisor Lee Holloway is a close one if you go by the results in the February Primary.
In that race, two first time candidates with little political experience and from well-known families, Priscilla Coggs-Jones and Russell Stamper II were the top two finishers with only 50 votes separating them.
That might be impressive if it weren’t for the fact only 1100 people reportedly went to the polls in that district.
This race is too close for us to call. Which is why we are going to leave it up to you, the voters to decide it.
Another toss-up is the 10th county board seat being vacated by Biddle. Both Radolph “Ray” Matthews, Jr. and David Bowen are new to the political scene and had turnout numbers similar to Coggs-Jones and Stamper.
Thus it is a race that is too close for us to call. Again, we’re leaving it to the voters to decide this one.
In the 13th supervisory district, our choice is Willie Johnson, Jr. over Bria Grant.
In the Branch 17 race, our choice is Carolina Stark over incumbent Judge Nelson Phillips III.
For Branch 23 judicial seat, our choice is Lindsey Grady, who has the endorsement of several prominent African American judges and lawmakers, as well as several labor organizations.