Business owner and educator wants to bring transparency, accountability to Brown Deer Trustee Board
By Thomas E. Mitchell, Jr.
Accountability, support, and collaboration.
Those are the three things Nakia Spencer would focus on if elected to the Village of Brown Deer Trustee Board April 2.
A Milwaukee native who grew up in the city’s 53206 zip code area, the 39-year-old business owner (Pristine Clean Custodial Services) and UWMilwaukee instructor in African American studies and English, says she’s running to not only be a part of the political process in the village, but to “represent.”
“Brown Deer is one of the most diverse communities in the state and I’d like to see that same kind of diversity represented in the governing body,” Spencer said in a recent interview, adding she feels the board is stuck in the past, that the village does not reflect the diversity it has within its boundaries.
Spencer said her age makes her more appealing to millennials in the village, who see her as someone who offers fresh ideas that would be attractive to younger individuals.
If elected, Spencer would be the second African American on the trustee board. The lone Black member currently is Wanda Montgomery, director of community partnership for Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, and president of the board of directors for National Black Child Development Institute—Milwaukee Affiliate.
Montgomery is now running for Brown Deer Village President.
The position Spencer is running for is the equivalent of being a big city alderman. The duties entail handling the village’s finances and making sure residents of the village are provided basic municipal services.
There are six elected trustees and one elected village president. Each member of the board is elected to serve a three-year term. Every year, two trustee seats are up for re-election. The board is also responsible for appointing the village manager, who serves as the chief administrative officer in the village and oversees the day-to-day operations.
Spencer is running against three other candidates: two incumbents, Jeff Baker and Gary Springman, and one other challenger, Laura Grisson.
If elected, Spencer will be the youngest woman on the trustee board. “I know I will be the youngest compared to the men on the board,” Spencer said glibly.
A resident of the village for two years, Spencer said she’s running because she cares about the community she lives in and wants to help make it more progressive and attractive to new businesses, while retaining established ones. The candidate said the village must develop a business plan that promotes a more welcoming spirit.
“There are a lot of empty business spaces that are wasted and are an eyesore,” Spencer said. “You can’t attract new businesses when you have businesses closing down. You shouldn’t have to go outside Brown Deer to work, play, and start a business.”
Spencer wants to create an atmosphere of transparency as it relates to how the village government operates, something she says is currently lacking.
“People need to know where to go to be heard,” Spencer said. “To know that something will be done about their concerns and issues.
“Residents shouldn’t have to come to board meetings three or four times to have their problems addressed in an urgent and thoughtful way.”
Having attended board meetings before deciding to run, Spencer noted they often looked like closed congressional hearings. Spencer said she would work to make the board more transparent in its deliberations. She even suggested live-steaming the meetings for those who can’t attend.
Spencer would also champion greater collaboration between the village board and the Brown Deer school board. She would like to see the creation of a liaison position to bridge the current divide she sees and foster greater cooperation in order to solve the problems within the school district.