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22 Years of Service from Penny Podell

by Vince Bushell

In 1980, 22 years ago, Penny Podell was elected to represent the Third Supervisory District of Milwaukee County. Seven campaigns, untold number of meetings, a changing list of issues, a dedication to community service — these things make up a successful career as a democratically elected representative. These things illustrate Penny’s years of service. Her last campaign was unsuccessful, as she faced a recall associated with the pension scandal. Penny came in third place, a mere 74 votes behind Mark Goff, a man she handily beat in the regular 2000 election. This election did not seem to stir interest in the electorate, with a turnout that was dismal to say the least. My vote represented 1% of the turnout in my ward. But, such is politics. Penny was instrumental in so many issues in her district. To name a few: the rebuilding of Lincoln Memorial Drive, the preservation of the bath house at Bradford Beach, the rehabilitation of the Lake Park Pavilion, the still-to-be-decided fate of the Coast Guard station, the establishment of a conservancy along the east bank of the Milwaukee River (Cambridge Woods), the rehabilitation and expansion of the Oak Leaf bike trail in Estabrook Park, and for those of you in Riverwest, the rebuilding of Gordon Park. She helped negotiate the delicate deal with the City, the Milwaukee County Board and Parks Department, a private developer and a non-profit (River Revitalization Foundation) to acquire as much as possible of the abandoned railroad right of way between Gordon Park and North Ave. This deal would create a bicycle and pedestrian link along the west bank of the Milwaukee River to downtown and points south and east of Riverwest, and in so doing preserve as much as possible of the undeveloped valley north of the dam. I am sure I have only touched the surface of the elements of her career. You may have disagreed with some of the decisions Penny made. Such is politics. But I know Penny worked hard. Sometimes I would get a call well past 10 in the evening on an issue that I was working on that was county business. I was ready for bed and Penny was ready to tackle the issue. As anyone involved in public service knows, it is not a 9 to 5 job. So thank you, Penny, for all your work. So the Third District voter’s choice for representation until the 2004 election will be between two Milwaukee neighbors, Mark Goff and Gerry Broderick. The election is July 16. May the better candidate win. The issues that seem simple in a campaign can become quite complex when setting policy that affects the daily lives of the neighbors. You cannot please all the people all the time. Riverwest Currents – Volume 1 – Issue 5 – July 2002
by Vince Bushell