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Hines to step down as Milwaukee Common Council president (UPDATE)

City of Milwaukee Common Council President Willie Hines Jr. will resign Saturday as president and 15th District alderman.

And at least two aldermen are saying they want to replace him.

Paul Williams, spokesman for the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee, said Hines will start Monday as associate director with a $120,000 salary, including benefits. Hines’ salary as president is $82,749.16.

The associate director oversees the authority’s housing operations, Section 8 rent assistance program and maintenance. The position, Williams said, has been vacant for about two years, during which time the authority failed to find an adequate candidate.

“Turns out,” he said, “we had the right fit for us locally right here.”

Williams said Hines will report Tony Perez, the authority’s secretary executive director.

Hines said he started looking for a career change after his second term as council president.

He planned to take over for Mayor Tom Barrett, who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2010 and again in 2012’s recall election.

“It didn’t happen,” Hines said, “So that was fine, then it was more of a ‘How do I begin to transition out,’ and I began to explore the private sector opportunities.”

While doing that, he learned of the opening at the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee.

Hines was born in public housing, he said, so when the chance came up to work with the city’s public housing agency, he had to make a choice.

“The option was to make more money,” he said, “or be fulfilled.”

The position with the housing authority won out in the end, Hines said. He intended to leave in October, he said, but unfinished business in his role as president, including passing the city’s budget, kept him longer than he expected.

Hines has served on the council since 1996 and been president since 2004. He has been a housing authority board member since 1996 and, according to a release, will resign that position as well.

Bill Arnold, public information manager with the city, said Hines told the City Clerk’s office about his plans within the last few days. He said he believed Hines told his fellow aldermen today.

Arnold said he expects several aldermen to vie for the president’s seat.

Alderman Michael Murphy said he plans to run for the president’s seat and already has gained support.

He has at least one supporter. Alderman Terry Witkowski said he respects Murphy for his level-headedness and plans to back him for the position.

“He’s a very conscientious person,” Witkowski said of Murphy. “He’s very thoughtful when he speaks.”

Murphy said he was unsure who his challenger or challengers could be. But Witkowski said Alderman Tony Zielinski also called to ask for support.

Zielinski confirmed Friday he will run to replace Hines.

The Common Council will elect a new president at its Feb. 11 meeting, which at least one alderman will miss.

Alderman Bob Donovan will not be at that Common Council meeting to vote in the new president, said his legislative aide, Patty Doherty. He and his wife will be in Texas visiting family, and Doherty said she was told by the City Clerk that Donovan could not vote remotely.

Doherty said Donovan had not yet decided who he will support for the president position because Hines’ resignation came as a surprise.

Hines said he did not have a preference about who should take his place as president.

“Whoever is fortunate enough to be able to serve as council president,” he said, “will do an excellent job.”

The Daily Reporter staff writer Beth Kevit also contributed to this report.

About Molly Willms

Molly Willms covers Milwaukee County for The Daily Reporter. She can be reached at [email protected] or 414-225-1842.

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