Wonder Woman Speaks to the Candidates
What do you think are the main issues facing District 18?
The top issue facing District 18 is a lack of trust in government and public officials.
Most of the district’s residents are currently represented by Supervisor John Thomas, who is vacating his seat on the county board. Residents are loosing the supervisor they are accustomed to working with since district 18 has been redrawn to absorb more area.
I feel that residents are really calling for a supervisor that is not only qualified to represent them, but someone they can have confidence to be fair, honest, and disciplined.
Residents also want to see an end to the bickering amongst public officials, and an actual dialogue that leads to efficient and effective changes that will make their quality of life better. I have already reached out to every current county supervisor, the county executive, and other local leaders to start off on the right foot and begin bridging the gap to help fix what is wrong with this county and continue improving what we are doing right on the county level.
Another big issue facing the district is directly linked to economics which is a county-wide problem—the web of unemployment, burdening debt and rising costs, high taxes, diminishing county services, vacant buildings, and crime.
One resident I spoke with lost her job several months ago because she had a medical limitation that her employer refused to accommodate—what a disheartening reason to face hardship!
Another resident I met on the campaign trail had his house burglarized three times in a matter of weeks and is frustrated, irritated, and scared that his home and his family don’t feel safe. These issues are all interconnected and affect each other. We can begin tackling this calamity by supporting law enforcement and public safety personnel, maintaining our assets, keeping taxes stable—if not lowering them, and doing what we can to increase the sense of community in and amongst our residents.
Including the look and feel of the Northridge Area specifically, what types of programs and projects would you propose to help make the area more competitive with the neighboring areas like Germantown and Menomonee Falls? Areas that are also competing for the same residents, workers, and economic development dollars?
It’s no secret that the entire Northridge area is an eyesore with a hodgepodge of stores and vacant buildings. Wal-Mart on N. 76th & Brown Deer Road has announced its intent to leave the area and the nearby Target, which was built in the 1970’s, has declined to renovate or add a grocery section to match other Milwaukee area stores. Big-box retailers like to be near other big-box retailers, so unfortunately this only clouds the outlook for the area even further.
The crazy thing is, this is an area bordered by rather affluent neighborhoods, but people with discretionary income simply aren’t going out with the intention to spend the day shopping in this area of Milwaukee.
I have surveyed residents in that area, they tell me that they need a hospital, a library, and quality schools—retail stores are not even their biggest concern, aside from the jobs they would provide. This tells me that competing with Germantown and Menomonee Falls from a retail perspective should not be the question we struggle to answer. Instead, we should be focusing on maintaining the investments we’ve made in the area—pulling it up by the bootstraps to give current residents more reasons to be proud to call this district their community and their home. We want to rebrand this district as a desirable place for others to spend their time, money, and to reside in this premier district. At the most grass-roots level, this would take the shape of building community amidst rental properties with high turnover and vacant space with an optimistic outlook to fight against further debilitation.
In response to this problem, I have two important things to say. The first is that it will take more than the interest of a candidate for county supervisor to begin revitalizing the area—we need community leaders on all levels to be interested and supportive of a viable plan. On that note, however, I must be forward in recognizing that the role of county government is limited by the state, and other than being charismatic and outspokenly supportive of a plan, I believe that there will be little that a county supervisor can do without support from all branches of government.
Second, I believe in doing our research so that we can revitalize the area in the most economic, efficient, and practical way possible to gain the best possible long term outcomes in terms of residents’ liberty and quality standard of living. I would recommend looking to a community-centric model; perhaps something that would incorporate all of the elements needed for an area resident to have little reason to travel outside the area on a regular basis. For example, with a small hospital/health center, a police station, a school, a library, areas for farmers’ market and local vendors, and maybe even an indoor park or community resource center, all in one centralized location, the area would be a magnet for families to spend time, learn, and enjoy life—more like a village than a victim of aged urban sprawl. A safe, welcoming area with a lot of residents and the space for redevelopment will be a perfect canvass for the return of businesses and jobs.
Do you feel that the county should be more concerned about the money the city is trying to take for the trolley system that may directly impact county transit funding?
It is my understanding that the money the city has slated for the trolley system is not within the scope of county dictate, and the concepts presented in the trolley plan are shiny, new, clean, and appealing. However, I think it is important to note that there is no such thing as “free” – even grants are paid for by someone, and in the case of federal funds, taxpayers are the ones left holding the bill. We have a looming federal deficit, citizens who already have trouble paying their taxes, and an ailing bus system that we are already vested in—so it seems to me that taking on the task of building a trolley that will run in a pretty small circle and eventually cost taxpayers even more is not the best plan under today’s circumstances.
What ideas or suggestions do you have regarding the Milwaukee County Transit System?
I ride the bus daily and have talked to a lot of other riders as well as bus drivers. I have visited with the Amalgamated Transit Union and listened to their members’ concerns. The biggest issue, hands down, is bus safety. Just over a decade ago the MCTS was awarded for being the safest transit system in the country when compared to cities of similar size, but today’s headlines are about attacks, assaults, and the resulting outcries for at least some semblance of safety. It doesn’t matter if we start offering free rides with a catered lunch onboard – if the busses aren’t safe, people will stop riding.
I think the answer to our transit safety problems will begin with partnerships, technology, enforcement, and prosecution. Such a strategy, when implemented with the Twin Cities’ Metro Transit, brought the fruit of a 22% drop in crime in just one year. Citizens want to see results and this is a proven way to answer that call.
I’ve heard of new technology, cameras, and payment systems coming to MCTS that will improve safety and revenue collection, but despite approval these changes have been slated to take years to implement. I wonder if this delay is really necessary or if this is just another example of bureaucratic drag.
There are new busses being circulated into the fleet, and from what I understand, they will have safety shields installed to protect the drivers. I was initially very supportive of this implementation, but after considering the dynamics of the service MCTS provides, I must ask if this really makes sense as an answer to our problems. What is a driver to do about an elderly or disabled rider requiring quick assistance if he is stuck behind a shield? How can a driver be warm and welcoming to tourists and visitors? Who do we want to use our transit system—if their first thought on stepping up to pay the fare is, “Wow, why does he need a shield like that? Maybe this isn’t a good idea.” Instead of these shields, why aren’t we empowering our drivers with self-defense training and proper law enforcement back-up?
I believe that there must be coordination amongst area law enforcement so that the “color of the uniform” of first responders’ is irrelevant—the first one has the training, leadership support, and necessary funding to help and response times are expedient. Let’s invite those training to work in law enforcement to serve in an internship-style capacity to gain hands-on experience in responding to calls for help in cooperation with professional law enforcement officers. This will build a sense of upward mobility for those entering the workforce while relieving some of the tension on our stretched law enforcement personnel.
The County Board has a reputation that has been “controversial” since the Tom Ament days and the pension scandal. How do you plan to bring back integrity to this board restore faith to Milwaukee county residents?
Isn’t it sad that this even has to be a question? I am tired of Milwaukee County being thought of as the laughing-stock of Wisconsin.
I care about our community, our people, and the future of our children, and I intend to prove myself as fair and honest. I have heard the complaints of residents who push for the county board to be made part-time or a different size, as well as the concerns of residents who feel that Milwaukee County itself is an unnecessary layer of government—calling for either relinquishment of power from the county to the municipalities and the state, or for the people of the area to explore creating a consolidated metro-government.
I have pledged to limit myself to a maximum of two terms as County Supervisor, and to be willing to vote for changes to our county government if they really are the best decisions for our residents, even if it means voting for a plan not beneficial to me as an individual. This is why Wisconsin Family Action has endorsed me for this office and I hope that voters will also see that I really do care about bringing integrity back to local government and restoring faith in our leadership.
You say on your Facebook Page that “It’s Time To Rebrand Milwaukee County” how do you plan to do this?
Milwaukee County is thought of as a joke by so many people. Headlines are mostly negative when discussing the leaders of the county. Right now, Milwaukee County has the problem of a very negative public perception. By choosing the campaign slogan, “It’s Time To Rebrand Milwaukee County,” I am spreading the message that I recognize our government’s bad reputation and will be a leader to help turn things around so that living in Milwaukee County is something we can be more proud of, businesses can have enough faith to continue on or even relocate here, and travelers can be genuinely excited about visiting Milwaukee County. The starting point for this ‘rebranding’ is found in making sound economic decisions, taking care of the assets we have, ensuring safety, and restoring faith in our public officials.
Current County Executive Chris Abele and Sheriff Clark have differing opinions regarding the safety of the county, especially regarding transit and the laying off of sheriffs. What is your take on these issues?
As an accountant and someone concerned with the fiscal viability of local government, I am all for budgeting wisely. I have thought about this issue a lot though, and some questions have come to mind that I’d like to share with you as food for thought:
- Have crime rates gone down?
- Do we feel safe?
- What generally happens in other areas when law enforcement decreases in size and force?
- Will we need to re-hire these officers at a later time to respond to crime that worsened during their leave?
- Will we incur overtime charges in the meantime in order to respond to emergencies?
- When we look at the big picture, is it responsible to cut public safety funding and lay off personnel?
There should be a long-term plan in place for all public safety and emergency response functions so that we are well prepared as crime, population, and calls for help may increase. If economic forecasters told us that we won’t need such a large response team in the future, I could see planned lay-offs; but as long as we anticipate actually needing these law enforcement workers, it does not make sense to me to make single-year adjustments for the sake of political argument and administrative reports. If government does not exist primarily to keep the public safe and ensure liberties, we must question what its priority actually is.
Anything else I did not address that you would like to share with our readers?
Yes! I have a wealth of volunteer experience, work experience, and education that makes me the ideal candidate to join the Milwaukee County Board.
I have served in our military as a member of the Wisconsin Army National Guard, which gave me a great background to understanding the concerns of our nation’s veterans and law enforcement personnel.
I have worked with Milwaukee teenagers when they discovered they were pregnant, saw ultrasounds of their babies for the first time, and supported the crisis pregnancy centers that responded to their calls for help.
I have also worked in the prison system to help inmates develop the skills necessary to integrate back into society.
I have volunteered to prepare taxes for the poor and elderly through the IRS’s VITA program.
I have also been very involved with my church as an event organizer and small group teacher.
Professionally, I have worked in public accounting, been an auditor for schools, served as an assistant to the Clerk-Treasurer in the Village of Union Grove, worked for the State of Wisconsin, and I currently work for Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division.
I also hold a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Accounting and will be finishing a master’s degree in Government & Public Administration with a certificate in Law & Public Policy this year. I have studied subjects essential to understand as an effective county supervisor, such as governmental accounting, public sector human resources, and how to be a fair and effective leader in the midst of conflict.
These experiences have all impacted me in ways that will help me be a responsive and responsible county supervisor because I am able to relate well to constituents from a variety of backgrounds, as well as government employees who are regularly impacted by board decisions.
Finally, I think that I will make an effective county supervisor because I am basing my campaign on a foundation of servant leadership, which will allow me to achieve results by being a good steward of our resources and by giving priority attention to the needs of the residents that I serve.
I would like to thank Ms. Alexander for taking time to answer our questions and provide insight into this campaign, especially for the people in District 18.
Statements from the other candidate for this district where not made available at the time of press.
At this time I will disclose that I am endorsing Ms. Alexander for this seat. I do not live in District 18, but as a concerned county resident, this district needs some serious, well-vetted leadership and work to restore it as an economically viable presence in this city.