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Wisconsin's presidential primary and spring general election is April 2, 2024. Here's a guide on Milwaukee-area candidates and information on how to vote.

3 Milwaukee Common Council seats have primary contests. Here are the candidates

Candidates for Milwaukee Common Council seats
Courtesy of candidates
Candidates for Milwaukee Common Council seats include (starting in upper left corner): Randy Jones, Lamont Westmoreland, Peter Burgelis, Stacy Smiter, Josh Zepnick, DiAndre Jackson, Kenneth Hughes, Jessica Currie and Bruce Winter.

All 15 Milwaukee Common Council seats are up for election this spring. But only three districts — 5, 7 and 11— have more than two candidates, which qualifies them for the Feb. 20, 2024 primary election.

The two top vote-getters in each race will advance to the April 2 election.

What does an alderperson on the Milwaukee Common Council do?

Alderman Michael Murphy explains how the Milwaukee Common Council works.

There are 15 aldermanic districts in the city of Milwaukee. One alderperson from each district is elected to a four-year term by the residents. They make up the lawmaking body of the City of Milwaukee, known as the Common Council.

The council exercises all policymaking and legislative powers of the city, including the adoption of ordinances and resolutions, the approval of the city's annual budget, and the enactment of appropriation and tax levy ordinances. The council also has approval over the mayor's appointments of cabinet heads, who direct day-to-day operations of city departments. In addition to their powers as legislators, council members serve as district administrators and are responsible to the citizens in their districts for city services.

The president of the Common Council is elected by council members at the beginning of the council’s term and serves for four years. The president makes all appointments to the council’s seven standing committees as well as many special committees and presides over all meetings of the full council. He or she becomes acting mayor when the mayor is out of the city.

Where are the districts?

WUWM sent a questionnaire to the Common Council candidates appearing on the primary ballot. Their responses below may be edited for length and clarity.

Who are the candidates in the primary election?

District 5

Lamont Westmoreland was elected alderman of District 5, on the northwest side of Milwaukee, in a special election in 2023. He is now running for reelection against two challengers.

Lamont Westmoreland (incumbent)

Lamont Westmoreland
Courtesy Lamont Westmoreland campaign
Lamont Westmoreland

What personal experiences motivated you to run for Common Council? One of the main reasons why I decided to run for alderman last year was because I felt many city standards were trending in the wrong direction and I wanted to reverse the trend. I was born and raised right here in Milwaukee, and I know where we came from, where we are and where we need to be. My top priority since day one has been to improve the quality of life for not just District 5 residents, but for all citizens citywide. That starts with public safety, land development (and redevelopment), more efficient city services, economic growth, improved infrastructure and everything in-between.

What is the biggest challenge the city faces, and how would you contribute to the solution? Reckless driving has been a major issue in the city. I firmly believe that reckless driving is akin to wielding a "two-ton weapon," and we should approach it with the same seriousness as we do firearms. I have authored a resolution to expand the circumstances under which reckless drivers’ vehicles can be impounded which was signed by Mayor Cavalier Johnson in November 2023.

I took this message to the state Capitol in Madison where I testified before the Wisconsin Senate's Judiciary and Public Safety Committee to advocate for this change in state law. This is a critical step forward in curbing reckless driving in our city and I am determined to get this done.

What other issues do you plan to focus on if elected? There are several issues that I want to tackle if reelected. I am working on addressing littering and illegal dumping, which has become a major issue. I want to make sure we hold criminals accountable while also working to help these individuals help themselves. I want to work with the community to make sure we are safe and not driving away potential businesses and residents, hindering our neighborhoods' growth due to problem properties.

What distinguishes you from other candidates in this race? I have a proven record of working for my community and my experience as alderman, and my experience in nonprofit work and small business lending make me suited to continue my work at City Hall. I have the support of prominent Milwaukee leaders and organizations such as Mayor Cavalier Johnson and the Milwaukee Police Association. I am doing the work and knocking on doors to talk to the voters directly.

Links: Website

Bruce Winter

Bruce Winter
Bruce Winter campaign website
Bruce Winter

Winter did not respond to WUWM's candidate questions. The information below is from his campaign website.

Winter explains his motivation for running for Common Council on his campaign website:

“The reason why I’m running for office is because I feel my neighbors were unfairly treated, when the city decided to approve a 300,000-square-foot warehouse, to be built directly behind their property (115th & Good Hope Road).”

Winter does not support city funding for expanding the streetcar. His website cites issues including illegal dumping, road conditions and road safety.

“The city of Milwaukee’s Traffic Safety Unit needs to be more involved in our district,” Winter writes on his website. “I would like to start an ‘Impact 4 Life’ program in our district. It is aimed [at] our young people, to show the consequences of what can happen while intoxicated driving, driving under the influence of drugs and texting while driving.”

Winter has worked with the Milwaukee County Highway Department and is a business owner. He advocates for lower taxes to improve affordability for fixed-income households.

Links: Website

Stacy Smiter

Stacy Smiter
Courtesy Stacy Smiter
Stacy Smiter

What personal experiences motivated you to run for Common Council? Equipped with the necessary skills and determination, I aim to guide our city away from its current trajectory, which poses ongoing challenges. My candidacy is not driven solely by a desire for a paycheck; rather, it is a genuine endeavor to be the voice representing my district and all the residents of Milwaukee.

What is the biggest challenge the city faces, and how would you contribute to the solution? One of Milwaukee's most pressing challenges lies in the persistent lack of growth throughout the city. Over the years, the leadership has concentrated efforts on redeveloping and revitalizing the downtown area and specific sections of the lower east side, inadvertently neglecting the remainder of the city. In my current role as a licensed professional real estate broker in Milwaukee, I am actively contributing to addressing this issue.

If elected, I aim to extend assistance in redeveloping and revitalizing neglected areas across the city. It is imperative that our focus extends beyond the downtown area to promote growth and prosperity throughout Milwaukee.

What other issues do you plan to focus on if elected? If elected, I intend to prioritize several other issues, including a strategic approach to Milwaukee's budget with innovative, long-term solutions. Additionally, my focus will be on achieving tangible results by ensuring proper allocation and utilization of Milwaukee's resources and funds. I am committed to enhancing relationships between small business owners and elected officials, fostering a more small-business-friendly environment in Milwaukee.

Another key aspect of my agenda is addressing the mental health of Milwaukee residents. This focus will provide a solid foundation for effectively implementing the various components of my plan for the 5th District and the overall betterment of the City of Milwaukee.

What distinguishes you from other candidates in this race? What sets me apart from the other candidates in this race is my genuine commitment to serving the people of Milwaukee. I bring forth a concrete plan for both my district and the entire city, emphasizing a belief in demonstrating through actions rather than mere words when it comes to plan execution. Unlike adhering to the current leadership's ideology, I am determined to break from that mold.

Links: Website

District 7

District 7 Alderman Khalif Rainey is not running for reelection. Four candidates are vying to replace him and represent a portion of Milwaukee's central city.

Jessica Currie

Jessica Currie
Courtesy Jessica Currie
Jessica Currie

What personal experiences motivated you to run for Common Council? I have been servicing the community for many years. I’ve notice the lack representation and support. I saw a way to leverage my experience in managing community-focused initiatives and addressing social issues. I have the Community Connections, Results, Impact Collaboration and Communication.

What is the biggest challenge the city faces, and how would you contribute to the solution? One significant challenge Milwaukee faces is economic inequality. To contribute to the solution, I would advocate for policies promoting equitable economic development, support local businesses and work towards creating job opportunities, particularly in underserved areas. Community engagement and collaboration with stakeholders would be essential in developing comprehensive strategies to address these challenges.

What other issues do you plan to focus on if elected? As alderwoman I plan to focus on the community well-being by addressing Housing, Crisis Management, Education, Public Safety and Economic Development.

What distinguishes you from other candidates in this race? I bring a fresh perspective as the youngest candidate and contribute to diversity as a woman.

Links: Website

Randy Jones

Randy Jones
Courtesy Randy Jones
Randy Jones

What personal experiences motivated you to run for Common Council? In 2015, I visited my alderman to discuss my concerns about the boarded and dilapidated properties in the 7th District, owned by one of the Bucks owners, Wes Edens. I urged the alderman to speak to Edens about the impact of the 500+ properties owned by his company on property taxes and neighborhoods before voting to allocate tax dollars to the Bucks. However, I was told that the alderman didn't believe the two issues were related. This response left me feeling frustrated because I couldn't believe that the person chosen to represent me wouldn't take into account the wider impact of such decisions. I love Milwaukee and want to leave my children and grandchildren a better place to live.

What is the biggest challenge the city faces, and how would you contribute to the solution? Economic Disparities. I plan to work with MPS, Charter schools and the Unions to bring trades back into schools. This should eliminate the need to privatize public services, which will give citizens livable wages.

What other issues do you plan to focus on if elected? My goals are to reduce crime in our neighborhoods and to increase the job and economic opportunities we have for the City of Milwaukee residents. I'm committed to finding real, tangible solutions to the issues we face as a community. My vision is that those who work hard have a chance to get ahead, where everyone has a fair shot, everyone is doing their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules and invest in children and remember our Seniors needs.

What distinguishes you from other candidates in this race? I possess more qualifications than my opponents that are required to become an alderman of the 7th District. With a proven resume of over 12 years spent in community organizing, mostly with the organization Common Ground Inc., I have gained valuable experience. Moreover, I have served as a Commissioner on the Safety & Civic Commission of the City of Milwaukee for six years, which has provided me with further insight into city government.

Links: Facebook

DiAndre Jackson

DiAndre Jackson
Courtesy DiAndre Jackson campaign
DiAndre Jackson

What personal experiences motivated you to run for Common Council? I'm running for alderman because I believe in our community's potential and I want to continue to get your input as we grow and succeed. We have all the tools here already in our community. I know I have heard about them in community meetings, on phone calls and at your doors.

When Master Lock closed its doors, it was a wake-up call for me and our city. It was more than just job losses; it was a sign that we need to do more to fight to keep good union jobs here. Running for public office has always been something I’ve wanted to do, and now is the time. With every conversation I’ve had, I am more confident we can make a difference, but I will need your help. As your next alderman, please know that I will continue to listen to you.

What is the biggest challenge the city faces, and how would you contribute to the solution? The biggest challenge facing our city is ensuring everyone has access to good jobs and feels safe in their neighborhood. As alderman, I'll focus on creating more apprenticeship programs, giving our youth the skills for strong careers. This approach will help lower crime by providing a positive direction. I'll also work to improve city services and make our streets safer, addressing concerns like reckless driving and ensuring responsive local governance.

What other issues do you plan to focus on if elected? If elected, my focus will be on neighborhood safety, improved city services and promoting job growth. I'll tackle reckless driving, making our streets safer for everyone. I plan to ensure our public services like garbage collection and streetlight repair are timely and efficient. Job creation, especially through apprenticeships, will be a priority, providing valuable skills and opportunities to our youth. By actively listening to our community and addressing these key areas, we can make Milwaukee a city where families and businesses thrive.

What distinguishes you from other candidates in this race? What makes me different in this election is that I've talked to lots of people by knocking on hundreds of doors. I've listened to what they need and want. Also, I'm supported by many local leaders and workers' groups. They trust me because I care about making jobs better and keeping our neighborhoods safe. This support and talking to so many people help me understand how to make things better for everyone in our area.

Links: Website

Kenneth Hughes

Kenneth Hughes
Kenneth Hughes campaign website
Kenneth Hughes

Hughes did not respond to WUWM's candidate questions. The information below is from his campaign website.

Kenneth Hughes is a pastor and business owner. If elected, he plans to form a citizens' accountability board and assemble retired and off-duty police officers to “community police the district,” according to Hughes’ campaign commercial. He also would provide an office “in the heart of the district for residents to have direct access to our office without driving downtown.”

Issues important to him include reducing crime and gun violence. If elected, Hughes says he would offer $10,000 of his salary to provide property tax relief for elderly homeowners, support grassroots organizations, and contribute to business startup costs and conflict resolution.

Links: Website

District 11

District 11 Alderman Mark Borkowski is not seeking reelection. Three candidates are running for the southwest side seat.

Peter Burgelis

Peter Burgelis
Courtesy Peter Burgelis campaign
Peter Burgelis

What personal experiences motivated you to run for Common Council? I’m a huge fan of Milwaukee and our neighborhoods, since being a kid going to County Stadium for Brewers games, or enjoying festivals as a teenager growing up here. Watching our snowplow drivers as a child, it’s hard not to appreciate the grit of Wisconsin families, battling with snow while also celebrating our Winter Wonderland. Those mentors, Milwaukee workers and parents who fought for safe streets, and cared for our tight knit communities, taught me everything about duty and making sacrifices. That’s my motivation, to be a leader that gets the job done well. Learning how to “serve the people” on the County Board has been enlightening and rewarding. I’m ready to face our City’s challenges with that same energy and determination.

What is the biggest challenge the city faces, and how would you contribute to the solution? Public safety is my top priority. Police, fire, and emergency medical services show up when help is needed. I’ll push for innovative mixed-use developments like fire houses with housing on floors above, and inter-municipal collaboration for needed infrastructure that can be shared. This will save long-term costs and improve services.

We must address the root causes of reckless driving. Pedestrian friendly solutions are a start, but the southside hasn't gotten enough support. I will continue to support investments in safe street design and bringing back driver education. When drivers continue to threaten the safety of our neighborhoods, we have to get them off the roads. I’ll push to tow cars that belong to irresponsible drivers.

What other issues do you plan to focus on if elected? I stand with homeowners and voters who demand the best from the City. We have to get back to basics and ensure government services are done right. Budgets and accurate accounting are the backbone of my career as a loan officer. I hammered out over $600K in additional revenue for the County. I will make sure city contracts aren't undervalued or overpriced. Our limited tax dollars must be protected and invested in the right places in our community.

Low staffing levels have stretched our valuable city workers to their limits and resulted in crumbling streets and broken street lights. When the whole team is valued and the city provides departments with the tools they need to do their jobs, we’ll have results that improve our quality of life.

What distinguishes you from other candidates in this race? My mom raised me and my sisters. I learned early on what hard work and accountability mean. I care, I show up and I ask hard questions that yield better results. I’ve delivered for my constituents and am proud of my record as county supervisor. I have a long list of organizations and elected officials who support my campaign. My life is rooted in trust and respect: while handling private financial data of my clients, and while serving our County residents. Focused on real wins: Sheriffs dept., Brewers, property tax cut, parks funding and more.

Links: Website

Lee Whiting

Whiting did not respond to WUWM's candidate questions. WUWM was unable to locate a campaign website to learn about Whiting's views.

Josh Zepnick

Josh Zepnick
Wisconsin Blue Book
Josh Zepnick

What personal experiences motivated you to run for Common Council? Born and raised on Milwaukee's South Side and nearly 20 year resident of District 11, I served in the Wisconsin Legislature for portions of the district between 2002-2018. To me, this is not about partisan politics or personality contests. It is about public service for the people and places that have been part of my life and where I spent years as a kid growing up in Milwaukee. Also, given the serious fiscal challenges that are key priorities for running city government, I think my strong roots in the community combined with my longstanding public service are well suited for the job assignment.

What is the biggest challenge the city faces, and how would you contribute to the solution? Crime and public safety, especially reckless driving/car thefts/police chases. I plan to work with others in city government to make sure we are on track with following state law (ACT 12) and hire more police officers as well as others who have public safety duties in Milwaukee. Example: We should hire more crossing guards, maybe call them pedestrian safety cadets or similar. And, not only expand their work scope at traditional school crossing locations but at major urban intersections with documented issues for pedestrian and bicycle safety protections or where vehicle traffic has been a red flag. In my district, one of those areas is S. 27th street and W. Oklahoma, one of the worst in town for violations, accidents, injury/death, etc.

What other issues do you plan to focus on if elected? Expanding the middle class in Milwaukee neighborhoods through strategic public investments, improved public safety and promoting our many positive qualities. Getting our fair share of city services is a key priority for my district, which pays a disproportionately large portion of the overall city budget.

What distinguishes you from other candidates in this race? I believe my roots in the area are an important component of a successful alderman's service to the residents. And, my professional experience at the federal, state and local levels of government greatly exceeds the other candidates.

Links: Website

What questions do you have about voting in Wisconsin? Complete our election survey.

Emily is WUWM's education reporter and a news editor.
Eddie is a WUWM news reporter.
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