There could be some fresh faces on the County Board come April. In the 4th district, Bill Buresh is mounting a formidable campaign against Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic outspending and outworking her the last few weeks. In the 18th district, Deanna Alexander garnered slightly more votes than opponent Tracy Corder in the primary, but Corder has the financial backing of some leftist groups. And in the 12th district, Sylvia Ortiz - not known for pulling her punches - is running an aggressive campaign against Supervisor Peggy Romo West.
If Buresh, Alexander, and Ortiz win in April's spring election - a big if - the Board will shift to the center possibly clearing the way for County Executive Chris Abele to implement a stronger reformist agendum. Buresh and Ortiz are Democrats of the centrist sort, and Alexander is an independent.
This is disheartening news to Supervisor Dimitrijevic. In December of 2010, She started a political action committee (PAC) called Next Generation Milwaukee, which she created to elect young progressive members to the County Board. The idea is to move the Board even further to the left, but she will have to keep her own seat first. Dimitrijevic has also made no secret of the fact that she's had her eye on the County Chairmanship, a seat soon available now that Lee Holloway has decided not to run for reelection.
Next Generation Milwaukee serves a dual purpose for Dimitrijevic. To make the Board more progressive, her PAC contributes to the campaigns of progressive candidates. But this isn't her end game. Dimitrijevic created her PAC to help elect candidates in exchange for their vote come time for her to run for the Chairmanship. How has that worked thus far? Not so great.
Next Generation Milwaukee contributed to the campaign of Penny Sikora, a candidate who decided to run for the wrong 18th district. You see, Sikora wasn't aware of the new district boundaries and was acquiring signatures outside his target area. As a consequence, Sikora didn't make the ballot. Perhaps Dimitrijevic's PAC should have pointed him in the right direction, but this is hindsight. Not making the ballot was probably a big sigh of relief for Dimitrijievic who received flack for giving him her endorsement.
Penny Sikora - whose legal name is Lamar Amos Sikora - had some run-ins with the law. We reported in November that Sikora had an extensive criminal history including theft, disorderly conduct, criminal battery, domestic abuse, unemployment compensation fraud, and three restraining orders from a former wife. His criminal activity spanned over a decade, but he thought it was time to live life anew. Dimitrijevic agreed.
Dimitrijevic told reporter Dan Bice that Sikora has "overcome some challenging times." She asked, "Don't we want people to have second chances?" Second chances, yes. A decade's worth of criminal history, probably not. The public doesn't see the County Board as a rehabilitation center. Sure, they have their own slum lords and bribery, but electing a delinquent ignorant of where his own district is would be pushing the envelope.
Why did Dimitrijevic really endorse Sikora? We can't be too sure. Sikora is a union representative for a transit union, and that transit union - according to Dimitrijevic - supports her candidacy. Or perhaps he was a friend and a reliable vote for her Chairmanship. We're confident she doesn't have the votes to become Chairman of the Board, but if a few of her drafted picks win their elections, it could conceivably happen. If Alexander and Ortiz win, her dream for ascension would end.
During her debate with Bill Buresh, Dimitrijevic told the Bayview audience that agreeing with County Executive Chris Abele on all of the issues wouldn't be healthy for the County, that you need a "voice of check-and-balance." (Perhaps it was her way of justifying the fact that she voted to override all of Abele's budget vetoes - 21 of 21 times.) Her PAC is designed to create a County Board full of progressives. So we ask Dimitrijevic, where is the check and balance in that?