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Meet Wauwatosa's first Black alderpeople: Sean Lowe & Margaret Arney

Sean Lowe/Amanda Evans
Wauwatosa's District 5 Ald. Sean Lowe (left) and District 2 Ald. Margaret Arney (right) were elected in spring of 2022.

The spring 2022 election marked historic wins in Milwaukee County — including in the City of Wauwatosa where the first Black man and Black woman were elected to the common council. They are also the first people of color to ever hold alderpeople positions in the city’s history.

Ald. Sean Lowe of District 5 and Ald. Margaret Arney of District 2 share more about their historic wins and goals in office.

Lowe starts with how he's been handling his newfound role in the city: "I've dived in headfirst into the role and already having a lot of conversations with constituents. I've been to our first common council meeting and I'm starting to get my objectives on the agenda for the common council, and get things done that I promised to do on a campaign trail."

For Arney, the new position has her feeling energized. While there's a lot to learn, she says she's been very fortunate to have been involved with an equity commission and neighborhood council in the city already.

"I've been very deeply involved in Wauwatosa things and I've been close to the council, close to what happens in committees, but it's ... a big difference. Sitting in the chair for the first time was really cool," she says.

As for top priorities, Lowe campaigned on police reform. He says he has a great relationship with the police chief and police department staff, but he says it's crucial to ban police no-knock warrants. Lowe emphasizes that he does not want to see situations like what happened to Breonna Taylor or Amir Locke occur in Wauwatosa and wants to focus on preventive laws.

Another item Lowe wants to address is affordable housing. From gas station attendants to grocery store baggers, he says these people deserve live in Wauwatosa and housing should be available.

Arney says her first priority is service — responding to people's concerns and being proactive when you're influencing people's daily life with an eye towards the future.

Another, she says, is in her capacity to be a leader to think about who Wauwatosa is as a community and how does the city fit into the larger community and region.

According to the 2020 Census, approximately 80% of residents identify as white in Wauwatosa, but more people of color are moving into the city. Lowe says, to him, Arney and his win signifies that the community needed and wanted to see a municipality that reflected them.

"We're able to represent that 20% of the citizens now for the very first time in history. That in turn will affect children in Wauwatosa because 37% of our school district is diverse. Those children now can look to somebody like myself and say, 'That could be me on a Wauwatosa Common Council one day,'" he says.

Being apart of a positive wave feels good, Arney says. "I don't question my belonging," she says. "I take it very seriously that I'm a representative. Not it's not about me, it's about us. And we are who we have. We need to get to know each other, we need to pull together and work together for for our common goals, and we can do that."

Mallory Cheng was a Lake Effect producer from 2021 to 2023.
Kobe Brown was WUWM's fifth Eric Von fellow.
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