Milwaukee's District 5 candidates aim to invest in youth, address reckless driving & infrastructure as alderman
Milwaukee’s 5th district residents will choose their next Common Council representative on April 4.
The 5th district position has been vacant since former Alderwoman Nikiya Dodd stepped down last fall.
Seven candidates – six men and one woman – were vying for the seat representing Milwaukee’s far northwest side. The February primary narrowed it down to two: Annette Jackson and Lamont Westmoreland.
Neither candidate has a political background, but they don’t see that as a hinderance.
Annette Jackson is a city of Milwaukee employee who’s worked in several departments including the Department of Neighborhood Services and the licensing department as a licensing specialist.
In that role, she worked with the Common Council when it voted on issues such as business licenses. She thinks having history in both experiences has prepared her for a seat at the table.
"I think that if you’ve been on the other end, you can advocate for what’s really right and what the people really want versus walking in and making decisions that affect the entire community."
Jackson says she’s knocked thousands of doors since starting her campaign. The top issues she heard consistently were about trash accumulation and reckless driving.
"I wanted to tell them right up-front reckless driving is a police issue; that’s not an alderperson issue. What I can do as an alderperson is to stay in contact with the police to see what’s going on, how we can, do to help," she says. "We can work on trying to get traffic infrastructure in, calming infrastructure."
Jackson says one of the first things she wants to do on the Common Council is create a district resource book. That way people know what services, businesses, etc. are in their communities.
She’s passionate about strengthening community ties too. She hopes to revive block watch programs. Jackson has 12 grandchildren who she says influenced her to run. She wants to create a better city for young people.
"Neighbors should know each other. We’ve gone away from that. Some of the good things that really made the community strong, we’ve lost. You know, I want the kids to be able to have fun. You know, I think we stole the youth from the kids and we need to give the kids their youth back because they’re our future," she says. "If we don’t start investing in them now, then what is this city going to be like 10 years from now?"
Investing in youth is what Jackson’s opponent, Lamont Westmoreland, values as well. It’s something he tries to do through his painting business.
He tells the story of a high school graduate who he took under his wing and helped start his own business.
"Last summer I helped him get his EIN, set up his insurance, LLC, everything. And now he is running his own painting business. So, he had a checkered background, and it was rough when we first started. However, I didn’t give up on him and we cannot continue to give up on our youth because at the end of the day they have to survive," Westmoreland says.
Like Jackson, Westmoreland doesn’t have a political background. He’s worked in finance, non-profits and is a small business owner.
But he’s running because he says District 5 deserves someone who has a heart for the people, a passion for the community, and a vision.
"At the end of the day, if you’re passionate about something and you see inefficiencies, you can sit back and complain. But at the end of the day, you can either be a part of the problem or part of the solution. And in my eyes, if you’re not doing anything to reach a solution to better things then you are kind of part of the problem," he says.
Westmoreland has lived in the 5th district for more than 10 years. He says the top concerns that he’s heard from people, that he also shares, include road conditions and uncontrolled intersections.
"I’ve got a buddy that lives in the district, at his particular intersection they’ve had eight accidents in about five years, and they don’t even let their kids play — they live in the corner house — they don’t even let the kids play outside because it’s dangerous and they’re even talking about moving," he says.
Westmoreland adds that people are also frustrated with the lack of transparency and responses from people in power, car thefts and reckless driving.
He says there are things that can be done to curb reckless driving. For example, like having wheel and pedal locks to prevent cars from being stolen and adding speed humps and more stop signs.
As an alderman he hopes to be held accountable in his district by holding community meetings at least once a month.
Westmoreland says he doesn’t need to do this work but wants to help maintain district 5’s strong foundation.
Need help learning how to vote on April 4? Our voter guide has the information you need on the voting process and how to participate.