by Sue Blaustein
I’ve lived in Riverwest for two and a half years — first as a renter, and now as a homeowner. For 12 years prior, I lived at 17th and Hadley. When Marvin Pratt started his career on the Common Council, he was my alderman there, and I’ve known him since that time. I want to see him elected mayor on April 6. My old home is less than three miles away, but the view from there is radically different. The degree to which some Milwaukeeans’ lives remain untouched and unimproved as development flourishes downtown and along the river is incredible. I’ve seen apathy and suffering which the simple tweaking of city service deliveries or announcement of new building projects can’t banish. Marvin Pratt’s strong primary campaign gave me more hope for change than anything I’ve seen in a long time. He was able to lead new and lapsed voters from indifference to involvement. He was able to challenge apathy because he understands its source. He secured voters’ trust because he’s been paying his dues for years. We need someone who can tap the potential and energy that’s been poorest people gain only slightly from good decisions made for them. Chronic passivity and hopelessness undermine the most well intentioned or ambitious initiatives. Though Mayor Pratt’s been tagged with the epithet “city hall insider,” his demonstrated ability to bring “outsiders” into the political process is an asset. Voters should give him the chance to build on that. His knowledge of how city government works is an asset, not a shortcoming. I’ve worked for the City for fourteen years and been a union officer for over ten. There’s nothing easier than talking about cutting waste, and freezing or lowering taxes. But when the elections are over, there’s reality to deal with. New city programs are carried out by personnel and new city ordinances are enforced by personnel. The years that Marvin Pratt’s been on the Common Council have been difficult, with cuts that have left city departments running lean already. He has too much experience to make promises under the jaded slogan of “doing more with less.” I’ve conferred with him many times, and sat across the table at Finance and Personnel Committee meetings where he’s presided. He’s a patient listener who considers input both from managers and from the workers who actually provide department services. He’s been through the painful process of considering cuts and job eliminations. In my experience, he has restored positions when convinced it was the prudent thing to do and been candid about decisions to cut others. He’s always been accessible, and he is thorough about gathering information from many sources. As the March 2004 issue of Riverwest Currents noted, voting patterns even in diverse Riverwest are racially divided. That’s the way Milwaukee is. I believe Marvin Pratt can change this, because while he’s still tuned into the streets of the first district he served in, I’ve never known him to pander to anyone’s prejudices or racial animosity. He didn’t waver in his support of a contract with city unions that provided insurance benefits for domestic partners. He’s someone you can disagree with, yet work with. That’s what Milwaukee needs right now. We all need to rise together, with no one left behind. Marvin Pratt has that commitment and has been acting on it for years. I believe he should be the next mayor of Milwaukee.