The 3rd District: Mike D’Amato vs. Carole Wehner
Voters have already spoken in the 3rd District race, and we agree with them. Based on his majority take in the five-way primary race, it looks like Ald. Mike D’Amato will continue to serve as alderman for the newly redistricted 3rd District after the April 6 election. Challenger Carole Wehner’s message does not seem to be hitting the mark for most 3rd District residents, except with students at UWM, and the day that the students can carry an alderman to power will be a day to remember. Wehner does provide an outlet for the anti-incumbent vote, but D’Amato has enough support from a broad range of neighborhood groups and residents to blunt that, and he is not shy about his record. He has been pro-development and believes, as did Mayor John O. Norquist, that the way out of fiscal problems for Milwaukee is through new development and a broader tax base. Accusations that he has been too ready to help out known developers over other interested parties on development of parcels of land are not easy to judge. Deals that are made for sale of city-owned land, or on approval of zoning variances, or by the Planning Commission, are often complicated. They generally follow a set city process and involve input from many more people than the alderman, including the Department of City Development, the Mayor’s office, and concerned citizens. Development decisions are judgment calls, and almost any decision will have opponents. It is easy to say that they are bad decisions if you have your own ax to grind, but we believe D’Amato has made enough good decisions to deserve reelection as alderman. We hope that he will work to make government decisions and processes more transparent. We also hope he will work hard to make decisions based on the best and highest use for the community. Now if we could only all agree on what the best and highest use is. The 6th District: Marlene Johnson-Odom vs. Mike McGee, Jr.
Marlene Johnson-Odom has served the city for 24 years, and we think it’s time for someone new to bring fresh ideas to the Common Council. Johnson-Odom herself has talked of retiring and was quoted in Milwaukee Magazine last year saying this was her last term and that her daughter was going to run for the seat. That did not happen, and Johnson-Odom is running for another four-year term. While she has the right to change her mind, the electorate may be getting tired of the on-again, off-again route she has taken for the past two elections. She had six challengers in the primary for the expanded 6th district. Mike McGee, Jr., came in a close second, and he seems ready to take up the challenge. He is better suited to bring the issues of central city young men and women to the council. With unemployment over 50% for young men in the district, it is time someone pays attention to their plight. Johnson-Odom won handily in the wealthier wards in Brewers Hill and the southern part of the district. McGee led in the tougher north and western wards. If Johnson-Odom should win again, we hope she uses one of McGee’s ideas and sets up an office in the district so that all constituents, rich and poor, can have easier contact with the government official that should be closest to them. Johnson-Odom has become out of touch with what is happening out on the streets in parts of the district. The economic development that has occurred on King Drive, Commerce Street, and Brewers Hill is something to be proud of, but again, it is not changing the lives of many who live nearby. She has been in office so long that there seems to have developed a feeling of ownership of territory and even of neighborhood groups that does not bode well for a democratic decision making process. There is a need to empower those who feel they have no power. In the 6th District, Mike McGee may be able to get that done We hope he does so without the racialization some fear. For in-depth, past coverage of aldermanic candidates’ views on a wide variety of issues, please see the news articles in our archives for the last few months.
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