20 candidates running in spring primary to fill 3 vacancies in Milwaukee's aldermanic districts
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Early voting for the spring primary began on Tuesday, Feb. 7.
There are many important races on this ballot, including special elections to fill vacancies in Milwaukee's aldermanic districts.
There are 20 candidates trying to fill three empty seats in districts one, five and nine.
Milwaukee's aldermanic district one has been vacant for about six months. Former Ald. Ashanti Hamilton represented the district since 2004 but left in Aug. 2022 after Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson appointed him the director of the city's Office of Violence Prevention.
Five candidates are running in the spring primary. The two candidates with the most votes will be on the ballot in April.
Zandra Bailey is a lifelong resident of Milwaukee's Rufus King neighborhood.
"I want Rufus King and district one the way it used to be," Bailey said.
Bailey said she created a block watch and acts as a community liaison by going to crime and safety meetings and calling the city when her neighbors need issues addressed.
Bailey said she decided to run for office because helping her neighbors is her passion and she wants to do it full time.
“I’m out here. I’m doing the work. I’m ready to be alderwoman," Bailey said.
If elected, Bailey said her top priorities are cleaning up the neighborhood and creating safer streets.
The issues on her campaign website include crime, reckless driving and illegal dumping.
Bailey told CBS 58 she'd like to create a block watch for all of district one.
“There’s a lot of work involved to get that resolved," Bailey said.
Marshall Martin is a teacher at Milwaukee's Bayview High school.
“I teach politics here. I teach citizenship and world history, but I’m not a politician," Martin said.
Martin told CBS 58 his students inspired his run for Common Council.
"They hear me talking everyday about how things, about how government should work, how the community should also participate with government to make things better, and about a year ago, a few of my students called me out," Martin said.
Formally, Martin served in the Army National Guard and worked in corrections. He also owns his own business and works as a DJ.
“I’ve taken advantage of everything that Milwaukee has to offer, and it’s made me a very well-rounded individual, and I think I’m just a well-rounded candidate," Martin said.
Martin told CBS 58 his areas of focus are crime reduction, cleaning up neighborhoods, and getting back to work.
“Community has to work with government. We get that collaboration, we get that concentrated effort between both of those entities, Milwaukee can change completely," Martin said.
Vincent Toney was born and raised in Milwaukee.
Currently a resident of district one, Toney told CBS 58 he's running to provide valuable leadership to his community.
“We’ve had the alderperson previously that worked kind of against us. They didn’t really advocate for us," Toney said.
Toney served in the Navy and made a career in social work.
Now, Toney said he spends his days trying to improve his neighborhood.
“If there was one of me on every block, I think this city would be in the process of changing," Toney said.
Toney said his campaign is centered around "family first." The issues he's focused on include violence, trash, erratic driving.
“Nothing is going to change in Milwaukee until people come together as families and make sure that our children, number one, and then our elders are taken care of," Toney said.
Former Rep. David Bowen is hoping to make the transition from the Wisconsin State Capitol to Milwaukee City Hall.
"It's about stepping up where needed and right now the city of Milwaukee needs a lot of help," Bowen said.
As the only candidate with elected experience, Bowen said he knows how to best invest in solutions for Milwaukee's major challenges.
"I look at what I've done already. I collaborated with the governor, and we were the ones that brought the idea of investing into violence prevention and the state having a role in that," Bowen said.
Bowen said public safety, equitable economic opportunities, quality housing and the city budget are all priorities if elected to office.
Bowen formerly served as a Milwaukee County Supervisor.
Andrea Pratt told CBS 58 she comes from a long line of public servants, including her father, former Milwaukee Mayor Marvin Pratt.
Marvin Pratt served as alderman of district one for 17 years.
"I just see this as an extension of that service," Andrea Pratt said.
Pratt said she is running for office to tackle her neighborhoods' biggest priorities, which she identifies as improving city services, boosting economic development and maintaining safe streets.
"That’s what I intend to do, to amplify their voices and to work with the administration, to work with fellow council members, to work with the state to make sure that they feel that their voices are being heard," Pratt said.
Pratt currently works in city government as an equal rights specialist.
Milwaukee's aldermanic district five has been vacant for about two months. Former Ald. Nikiya Dodd represented the district since 2018. She resigned in Nov. 2022 and took a job at Dr. Howard Fuller Collegiate Academy in Milwaukee.
Seven candidates are running in the spring primary. The two candidates with the most votes will be on the ballot in April.
Joe Fisch was born in Appleton, Wis., but moved to Milwaukee more than 30 years ago.
Fisch retired from a career in sales and became a substitute teacher.
“I have a lot of time and a lot of passion for my district," Fisch said.
If elected, Fisch told CBS 58 he wants to curb reckless driving and fix the roads.
“I live in district five, and I see the crime rate going up. I see the reckless driving increasing. I see the roads deteriorating," Fisch said.
Fisch wants to see more severe penalties for reckless driving.
Fisch told CBS 58 he would strive to be a leader with open communication with residents.
“I want to be an accessible alderman. I want to be able to respond quickly and if I can’t resolve problems, I want to communicate the progress we’re making toward those problems," Fisch said.
Bruce Winter is a lifelong Milwaukee resident.
“Somebody who’s a regular person, not somebody who’s been in government constantly," Winter said when describing himself.
Winter owns a car carrier service.
He said his profession gives him a front seat to the issues of stolen cars and reckless driving plaguing the city.
"We still need to fix the streets and we need to get more officers or some type of traffic units out there," Winter said.
Winter said he wants to prioritize cleaning up the community by addressing illegal dumping and fixing potholes.
P. Thomas Thadison III
P. Thomas Thadison III is a retired Milwaukee police officer.
Thadison told CBS 58 running for alderman of district five is a natural next step for him.
"The things I went through prepared me for these moments now," Thadison said.
Thadison wants to improve quality of life in Milwaukee and find solutions for the issues voters care most about.
He said he has a survey on his website where voters can tell him their biggest concerns. Those will be the first issues he addresses if elected to office.
“I have a deep understanding of the issues that face our neighborhoods. I have a vision and I have the skillsets necessary to address these issues," Thadison said.
Thadison said he plans to be accessible, responsive and accountable for all concerns, even the ones he won't hold the power to fix.
Annette Jackson has experience in three city departments, and now said she's ready for a move to the Common Council.
Jackson worked for the Department of Neighborhood Services, the water department and in licensing.
"By me being in those departments, I can make connections and I can hit the ground running on day one," Jackson said.
Jackson told CBS 58 she is running for alderwoman of district five to bring the community closer together.
"We can come together, work together and correct any issues that are happening in district five," Jackson said.
Jackson said her mission is to reduce crime and provide resources to residents.
“A lot of people in the community felt like their issues aren’t being heard. Well, I want to hear them," Jackson said.
Lamont Westmoreland is a businessowner in Milwaukee with a background in finance.
“I just have the energy and passion that is unmatched," Westmoreland said.
He told CBS 58 his late friend inspired his run for Common Council.
“The last conversation I had with Thomas, he’s like 'Lamont you should really run for alderman,'" Westmoreland said.
If elected, Westmoreland wants to tackle reckless driving, support small business growth and reduce crime.
“People are leaving. People are getting sick and tired of their cars being broken into, their cars stolen. Infrastructure, poor roads. Gun shots. All of that stuff – people are sick and tired of it," Westmoreland said.
Westmoreland said he's not interested in a career in politics, he's interested in improving his community.
“My aspiration is to be district 5 alderman, nothing more," Westmoreland said.
Ray Banks is a former Milwaukee assistant police chief.
Banks retired from the force in 2020.
He told CBS 58 he's not quite finished trying to make the city a safer place.
"I’ve always had that passion of wanting to give back and wanting to be part of the change," Banks said.
Banks separates his priorities into three categories: violent crime, reckless driving and city services.
He said there's no silver bullet to solving these issues but has ideas.
“The learning curve for me will be short, because of the fact that I’ve been doing this for so long," Banks said.
Jeff Spence is a lifelong Milwaukee resident.
Spence currently works as a director at the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District.
He told CBS 58 he is an experienced leader who wants to improve Milwaukee's housing and economic development.
Spence said he also wants to create safer, nonviolent streets.
"It's a host of things that we have to create movement on and affect so that the whole works better," Spence said.
Spence is also running for a seat on the Milwaukee School Board.
"The vision is bringing those entities closer together," Spence said.
District nine lost representation in July 2022 after former Ald. Chantia Lewis was removed from the Common Council. Lewis pled guilty to misuse of campaign funds and misconduct while in office.
Since her departure, some residents have felt voiceless when it comes to issues particularly impacting district nine, including the youth prison and the abandoned Northridge Mall.
Eight candidates are running in the spring primary. The two candidates with the most votes will be on the ballot in April.
Odell Ball is a retired Milwaukee Public School teacher.
Ball told CBS 58 he became inspired to run for Common Council while campaigning for his wife, Milwaukee County Sheriff Denita Ball.
"There was a lot of need in the district that hadn't been met," Odell Ball said.
Ball said he wants to bring business back to district nine.
He's said he's already thinking about solutions for Milwaukee's biggest challenges, including illegal dumping, reckless driving, gun violence, mental health issues and lead abatement.
Ball said he'd like to see Northridge Mall become a training center for fire and police officers and trainees.
Ball told CBS 58 he's an advocate for the youth prison proposed to be built in district nine.
“I stand on the shoulders of the teachers that I grew up with. They can stand on my shoulders. I was built for this," Ball said.
Walt Love said he's running for district nine alderman to bring commitment, integrity and accountability to City Hall.
Love formerly worked in radio and television.
Love told CBS 58 he decided to run after one of his rental properties was shot at 30 times.
“We got to get tough on crime. We got to get tough on what’s happening out here," Love said.
Love said Northridge Mall is a top priority if elected to office. He sees it becoming a mixed-use space.
“Northridge was the heartbeat. We have lost our heart here, and I’m trying to bring that heartbeat back," Love said.
Love told CBS 58 the way the Common Council handled the youth prison was unacceptable. He said the vote should have been delayed until the district had representation.
Donna Ross has lived in Milwaukee since 1991 and works in education.
Ross is running for office to make Milwaukee a safer city.
“I want to make sure that the ninth district in particular is a great place to raise a family," Ross said.
Economic development is a priority for Ross, including transforming Northridge Mall into a vibrant shopping center.
“I don’t think tearing it down is the answer. I think we need to build on the foundation that’s there," Ross said.
Ross said she understands why district nine residents both support and oppose the youth prison.
“The people who live in the vicinity are worried about their property values and the safety issues that may arise from the facility, and on the other side I’ve also heard some residents who want to bring their children closer to home," Ross said.
With the prison already approved by the Common Council, Ross told CBS 58 it's important the promises to rehabilitate and educate the youth are lived up to.
"Let’s just hold our, the elected officials accountable to make sure that everything that they’ve promised to us is brought to fruition," Ross said.
Jasmine Tyler is a lifelong Milwaukee resident.
Tyler works in the arts, entertainment and sports.
If elected, Tyler said she plans to advance the work she's already doing in district nine.
"Enhancing the proactive services, asking the residents to become more involved, as well as, the business owners," Tyler said.
Tyler created an overnight youth program for kids in district nine.
As a breast cancer survivor, Tyler said her priorities are healthcare, crime prevention and business development.
“I want elders to feel safe to come outside their homes. I want the youth to have a safe space to go and express themselves, Tyler said.
Tyler said she is connected with many Milwaukee developers. When the time comes to replace Northridge Mall, she said she would consult with developers and residents.
Larresa Taylor is a veteran and Milwaukee Public School teacher.
"I am a public servant by nature," Taylor said. "I usually say when you have a niche, you follow it, and when you follow your niche, you find success."
Taylor said her goal is to elevate quality of life while improving Milwaukee's economic development, public safety and education.
Taylor proposes block watches and teaching residents to look out for each other.
When asked about Northridge Mall, Taylor said she'd like to see the court order followed. As to what development she'd like to see there, Taylor said she'd consult with residents.
"I can’t make any decisions alone, but I can make decisions with the cooperation and collaboration of the residents in the area," Taylor said.
Since the youth prison was already approved, Taylor said her role if elected would be to focus on limiting potential negative impacts to residents.
Cherie Ray told CBS 58 her passion for politics and experience as a legislative aide makes her a top candidate.
"I saw that I could possibly make some changes that would help the community," Ray said.
Ray said she's thought about potential solutions for Milwaukee's biggest challenges.
Ray suggested developing an app that alerts police to reckless drivers. She would also like to see more severe punishments for offenders.
Ray said she wants to connect the community with resources and organizations that specialize in fighting crime and violence.
Ray told CBS 58 she thinks Northridge Mall needs to be demolished.
"We need to find something that will bring revenue to the area," Ray said.
Amber Danyus is a lifelong resident of Milwaukee.
She works in education as an academic interventionist.
Danyus said her son inspired her run for office.
“As a mom, I am concerned about like what’s going to be normal for my son growing up. Is it going to be normal for him to lose friends to gun violence and reckless driving?" Danyus told CBS 58.
Danyus said she plans to utilize a multisystem approach when tackling issues, like crime and reckless driving.
She said she will listen to and value the opinions of residents when it comes time to replace Northridge Mall.
Danyus said she asked the Common Council to delay voting on the youth prison until the district had proper representation.
She told CBS 58 if elected, her role would be to help make the best of the situation.
“I’m going to make decisions that are good because it’s the best thing to do, and it’s not always going to be what looks good to people," Danyus said.
Russell Antonio Goodwin, Sr.
Russell Antonio Goodwin, Sr. is a former Milwaukee County Supervisor, now trying to make a difference for people at the city level.
“They’ve been without representation. So, I’m running to be their voice," Goodwin said.
Goodwin said he has experience in both the public and private sectors.
Reckless driving is an issue close to Goodwin's heart after losing a loved one in a car crash.
If elected, Goodwin said he'd focus on reducing crime, creating safer streets and increasing economic development.
He envisions Northridge Mall becoming a mixed-use space.
“My goal is to move Milwaukee forward through proactive solutions and partnerships and community awareness," Goodwin said.
Early voting ends on Saturday, Feb. 18. Click here for hours and locations of early voting.
The Spring Primary is on Tuesday, Feb. 21.
The Spring Election is on Tuesday, April 4.