You know a candidate has a good chance of beating a long-time Southside incumbent when an 80-year-old woman (who one would assume-given her age supports the incumbent) invites that candidate into her home and tells him she’s been “waiting so long for someone to take up the charge.”
The charge the candidate, Chez Ordonez, is taking up is defeating incumbent Ald. Bob Donovan and restoring stability and hope to the predominately Latino district besieged by crime, joblessness, shrinking property values and dwindling businesses.
If elected, Ordonez said he would be an advocate, bringing in tax credits for businesses to locate and create employment opportunities in the district, garner loans for remodeling and rehabilitating homes and work closely with Milwaukee Police to utilize various proactive measures that have been successful in other districts.
“As a community it’s our charge to keep what is sacred: thriving businesses, solid neighborhoods and an improved quality of life.” It’s no one else’s charge,” said the one-time aide to state Sen. Lena Taylor.
“The district needs a champion—an advocate—who will work with the people and serve as a liaison with corporations, telling them ‘This is what I demand for my community.’”
In a recent interview, Ordonez said he decided to take on Donovan at the urging of district residents and members of the Latino Redistricting Committee, which was successful in garnering a super-majority Latino district during the city’s redistricting.
Ordonez was a part of the LRC’s redistricting effort in the eighth aldermanic, which is 63% Latino, 25% White and 8% African American.
Bolstering Ordonez’s chances is the removal of the Jackson Park area from the district. This occurred during the redistricting process (due to demographic changes revealed in the 2010 Census.
The predominately White Jackson Park area had been a dependable voting stronghold for Donovan since he first ran for the office in 2000.
Donovan reportedly tried to have Ordonez removed from the February 21 Primary ballot, claiming his challenger had flawed nomination papers. However, the city Election Commission approved Ordonez’ nomination papers and his name will appear on the ballot.
Donovan’s failed effort is a sign to Ordonez that he and other incumbents facing challenges are scared of the paradigm shift taking place in local politics that threatens to sweep them out of office.
Ordonez doesn’t see a one overwhelming “silver bullet” issue facing the mostly working class district. “We’re struggling with multiple issues such as jobs, crime in the neighborhoods, public transportation that is clean and safe.
“The community needs to be educated and made aware they have options and a voice,” Ordonez continued. “For so long people didn’t have a reason to vote. Why vote for someone who doesn’t care about them.”
The candidate did reveal he would focus his attention on business creation and helping the small businesses that remain in the district. “They’re the back-bone of the community,” Ordonez said.
Though the district is largely Latino, Ordonez stressed there are more similarities than differences between the African American and Latino communities, adding they must unite and work together to effect positive change for both.
“I want to be a bridge between the two communities. I’ve worked in both (for several years Ordonez was a producer at 1290 WMCS AM working with several on-air radio personalities).
“We’re stronger united than we are divided. Our vote and buying power would be felt if we united. We would no longer be disenfranchised; we would be stakeholders in our (respective) communities.”
Despite contending with two other candidates who are challenging Donovan for his seat, Ordonez feels very good about his chances of winning February 21 and facing off against Donovan in April.
“It wasn’t hard getting signatures (on his nomination papers) from people who want change,” Ordonez said, adding individuals not yet of voting age are being mobilized and taught the importance of the vote.
“I have the support of small business owners in the district. I went to them and they’ve said they’re totally behind me.”