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Milwaukee Area Labor Council endorses Shorts over Lipscomb for county board

The Milwaukee Area Labor Council is endorsing the workers’ compensation lawyer Casey Shorts in his electoral challenge of Theo Lipscomb, the incumbent Milwaukee County Board Chairman.

The labor council’s Committee on Political Education recently finished interviewing candidates for the 2018 spring elections and announced their endorsements late last week. Representatives of local unions in the building trades, as well as the industrial, public and service sectors, voted on the candidate selections.

Pam Fendt, Milwaukee Area Labor Council president, said members were glad to learn that Shorts has experience with worker’s compensation law. But what really won them over was his promise to end long-standing divisions between the county board and County Executive Chris Abele’s office.

“Some of what he shared was to put an end to some of the division on the board, or between the board and the county executive,” Fendt said. “So, (to) work proactively to represent the interest of county residents, put politics aside and roll up your sleeves.”

Lipscomb and Abele are bitter political rivals, rarely seeing eye-to-eye on policy. Their disagreements became especially pronounced when county officials were considering increasing the local wheel tax, a vehicle-registration fee collected on top of the state’s annual $75 fee.

Milwaukee County has a $30 wheel tax, and uses that money for priorities like public transportation and road projects. Abele wants to see that fee increased, and proposed doubling it as part of the county’s 2018 budget. Lipscomb and his colleagues rejected the recommendation, instead calling for a roughly 1 percent reduction in spending by all county department budgets.

Shorts, a resident of Glendale and a lawyer at The Previant Law Firm, has said he will make it a point to work with other county officials even when he doesn’t agree with them.

“Standing up for, and fighting on behalf of, the women and men of organized labor has defined my career,” Shorts said in a statement posted to his campaign’s Facebook page. “As a member of the County Board I will never forget the role organized labor plays in strengthening our community.”

Lipscomb has been endorsed by the labor council in previous elections, Fendt said.

He could not be reached for a comment on Monday.

Milwaukee Area Labor Council officials also announced the endorsements of the following candidates:

  •  for various Milwaukee County Board seats, Sequanna Taylor, Marina Dimitrijevic, Marcelia Nicholson, Felesia Martin, Steven Shea, Peggy West, Willie Johnson, Jason Haas, John Weishan, Tony Staskunas and Sparkle Ashley;
  • Dan Bukiewicz for Oak Creek mayor;
  • Bryan Kennedy for Glendale mayor;
  • Michael Johnson for a seat on the Cudahy school board;
  • Leah Schreiber-Johnson and Sheryl Cerniglia for the Oak Creek school board;
  • Sue Sujecki for the West Allis-West Milwaukee School Board; and
  • Carolina Stark for Circuit Court Branch 17.

Bukiewicz is now finishing up a mayoral term started by Steve Scaffidi, who announced in February that he was stepping down to take a job at WTMJ radio. Bukiewicz is also the president of the Milwaukee Building & Construction Trades Council.

Fendt said Bukiewicz will be able to balance economic development with responsible governance.

Martin, meanwhile, is running to replace County Board Supervisor Michael Mayo, who announced last year he would not seek re-election. Mayo serves as the chairman of the board’s Transportation, Public Works and Transit Committee.

Martin also recently received the endorsement of Khary Penebaker, who is president of Roofed Right America and a former challenger to U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls.

“Felesia has been active in local politics for as long as I have known her,” Penebaker said in a statement. “She works hard for the residents of Milwaukee, and will be a wonderful elected official.”

About Alex Zank, [email protected]

Alex Zank is a construction reporter for The Daily Reporter. He can be reached at 414-225-1820.

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