One Question: “What do you see as the greatest challenges facing your constituency today, and what is your prognosis for meeting those challenges in the next four years?”
n the run-up to this historic election cycle, VITAL asked a sampling of your elected officials one question. We deliberately chose politicians at the city, county, state and federal levels, both Republicans and Democrats, in the hope that the responses of five different people who serve their constituencies from different horizons of perspective would offer some collective insight into where we are, where we’re headed and how we’re going to get there in the next four years. Their repsonses virtually careen from fiery stump speech to party line recitation to four-point-plan. If you follow politics, not much here will surprise you, but it is a rather fascinating character study.–Jon Anne Willow
Willie L. Hines Jr.
Alderman, 15th District Milwaukee Common Council President Having grown up in public housing, I am well acquainted with severe struggles many residents of Milwaukee face. My nine siblings and I always knew that having food on the table was not something to take for granted. We witnessed decay and destruction up close. And we learned to be thankful for everything, in and out of season – regardless of circumstances. Those childhood lessons have equipped me with a unique perspective when it comes to government and serving the needs of citizens. I know that significant challenges present significant opportunities – it’s a belief that guides my everyday life as an alderman and as Common Council President. I’ve witnessed individuals and communities in my district overcome myriad obstacles, so I know that it can be done with the right mix of determination and sound public policy. In regard to unemployment, housing and transportation, Milwaukee can do much better. We can – and should – face down these challenges and transform them into opportunities for growth, prosperity and a better quality of life for everyone. Part of the solution rests in a word that is often talked about but seldom realized: regionalism.
6 one question | Vital Source | covered
Just as Milwaukee has its share of challenges, so too do our suburban neighbors: New Berlin has the largest industrial park in the state, but they need employees; many Waukesha residents want to get in and out of downtown Milwaukee quickly, but our inter-transit system is anemic; Shorewood and Whitefish Bay rely on Milwaukee for their employment options, but they offer almost no affordable housing. By recognizing that we are all one community, we can leverage our mutual advantages to address our mutual shortcomings. If Milwaukee can have sister-city relationships with municipalities in China and Africa, surely we can collaborate with our suburban counterparts. Recently, the topic of regionalism was fiercely debated when New Berlin came to Milwaukee seeking a deal for Lake Michigan water. This was not a surprise; as soon as the Great Lakes Compact was signed, we new that New Berlin would be the first candidate on the docket to be vetted for full connection to Milwaukee’s world-class fresh water infrastructure. Some have said that the New Berlin/Milwaukee water agreement offered an example of regionalism. But I say regionalism has to be a twoway street. According to official City of Milwaukee resolution, New Berlin was required to do a housing study and transportation study in order to be eligible. Neither study was ever attempted, much less submitted. No new bus lines linking Milwaukee residents to New Berlin’s industrial park jobs. No new affordable housing units. No sustainable benefit to Milwaukee residents. I harbor no ill will toward New Berlin or any other suburban community. I understand that they have their needs (fresh water being a major one), but we also have ours. The region will not benefit if we ignore the momentum, vision and needs of Milwaukee. A truly regional perspective will allow us to address our most pressing challenges head-on, transforming them into authentic opportunities.
Milwaukee County Executive Jobs are the biggest issue facing people in Milwaukee County today. Education is our greatest challenge. Without a steady stream of prepared individuals entering the workforce in our county and in our region, employers will look to other locations and outlets to get the workers they need to run their companies. We must have quality schools. Dramatic changes must take place within the Milwaukee school system and other outlets must be allowed to enter and expand. Students in Milwaukee must be prepared for
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