Tuesday, November 23, 2010

An early look at the Milwaukee County Executive Race

As Scott Walker prepares to formally leave his current post* as Milwaukee County Executive for Madison, names of potential successors are coming out of the woodwork. Names are being added and dropped faster than those on Rush Limbaugh's marriage license. So much so that this post might be obsolete by the time I finish writing it.

Whoever does take over will have a miserable job of it, having to clean up not one, but two deficit-ridden, illegal budgets, hundreds of millions of dollars worth of repairs and maintenance, a mental health complex in disarray, and lawsuits up to their necks. And that's just skimming the surface.

Because of the relative short amount of time before they can announce and the February primary, a candidate is ideally going to need two, preferably three things:
  1. Money, lots of money.
  2. Name recognition: They don't have much time to get all over the county. The candidates who already have higher profiles will do that much better. Otherwise, they'll need even more money to get their name out their.
  3. A good candidate would preferably have an understanding of the county's problems and have a solid idea of how to address them. I listed this one as being preferred since Walker's last three elections (four if you count the gubernatorial one from three weeks ago) show that people don't necessarily think being qualified is a requirement anymore.
As one might expect when one starts with a long list of candidates of various levels of interest in running, some names have already dropped out including State Representative Jon Richards and Sheriff David Clarke.

The following is what I am sure an incomplete list of the names politicians that have expressed interest or that I have heard their names being mentioned as possibilities, along with a brief synopses of who they are and what their chances might be.

Sheldon Wasserman: The most recent to announce an interest in the position. He has the money and the name recognition, that's for sure. The concern is whether is heart would be into it, since many have said his main interest is to get back into Madison. We're just getting rid of an executive that treated us as a stepping stone, do we want another one? Furthermore, even Wasserman himself has said his interest is more in his medical practice right now.

Tom Ament: Wait, what? Him again? No way! Not only did he foist the pension scandal on us, but opened the door for the last eight years of Walker's abuse, misuse and neglect. Just for the latter, he should be eligible for a life sentence in prison.

Jeff Stone: State Representative from Greendale. Two words to describe him: Walker Lite. He doesn't have much name recognition outside of his area and has the negative of trying to do a backdoor privatization of the airport. That upset a lot of people, especially those that live near the airport and have had their homes threatened so they could expand.

Josh Zepnick: State Representative. Like Stone, not much name recognition outside of his district. It's unknown how much he knows of or understands the county's issues.

John Hiller: Who? Walker's campaign treasurer. Enough said. Plus he is now part of Walker's transition team, so he might have bigger fish to fry.

Dan Devine: West Allis Mayor and former County Executive. I don't know if what his war chest looks like and he has made little splash beyond West Allis, but he would have the knowledge of the county's story and the leadership experience. It is also unknown how serious he is thinking of running. This morning's paper reports that he is not considering a run for the county executive's position.

Jill Didier: Mayor of Wauwatosa. Not much name recognition beyond Tosa. Just stuck her constituents with an unnecessary $12 million tax bill in order to give support to a rich group of developers so that they can tear up the county grounds and the Monarch Trail.

Tom Taylor: Mayor of Franklin. Ask him about his role in the county pension scandal.

Lee Holloway: Well, he's got the name recognition, that's for sure. I would suspect he has a nice bankroll as well. But he is vastly unpopular among the suburbs and other conservative strongholds. He may be able to carry a part of the north side, but not enough to win the race.

Dan Diliberti: County Treasurer. He has the knowledge of the county's issues, but not a lot of name recognition since his office is one of those automatic check types.

Joseph Czarnezki: County Clerk. See Diliberti.

John Weishan: County Supervisor. Extremely knowledgeable about County issues. Weishan does have the down side of carrying baggage from the pension scandal. He also strong ideas of how to fix some of the county's woes, but many might consider his ideas to be too extreme, such as funding buses and parks for only three months and trying to force the state into passing the sales tax.

Johnny Thomas: County Supervisor. He's been working at getting his name out there, taking credit for the benefits part of the recently passed budget (which is still illegal). He also was active in the past year raising many of the county issues. One thing that might work for or against him is that he has gained a certain level of animosity from the unions for flipping his vote regarding a Tentative Agreement from last year.

Marina Dimitrijevic: County Supervisor. One of the strongest candidates I've heard so far, as evidence by the fear she sparked in the special interest-funded group, CRG. She has good name recognition, at least on the south side of the county. She is fluently bilingual. She has a strong knowledge in County issues and has already gotten some of her ideas implemented, saving tax payers hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars. She has won her district easily, has earned a number of rewards, and is often voted "Best Supervisor" in many polls.

Joe Sanfelippo: Walker the Second, but with even less personality or understanding. Even though on the personnel committee and part of the oversight committee for the mental health complex, and even though it has been going on for more than three years, Sanfelippo announced surprise that the staff at the complex were getting paid a lot of overtime.

Sue Black: Parks Director. She has done a lot with a little, but that doesn't mean she is fit to be executive. Plus, if rumor is true, she has some other things she needs to deal with

As I stated above, I am sure this list will be changing almost daily for a while. This was meant to be only the briefest of introductions and assessments.

*If Walker were to just leave in the middle of the night, would anyone notice? It's not like he's been around much for the past several years anyway.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the run-down, Capper. Was thinking of doing something of this sort for ya, but you beat me to it. Only "minor" chink in Marina's armor might be that she won't even turn 30 until after the general election and some of the bosses would think she will have other opportunities to run for the post.