I expect that if you are politically curious enough to read Blogging Blue on a regular basis, you also read most of Daniel Bice’s No Quarter Blog pieces in The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. So there’s a good chance you read his piece on Penny Sikora, candidate for Milwaukee County Supervisor in the 18th District (Milwaukee County supervisor candidate dismisses past misdeeds, November 27, 2011). Mr. Bice also mentions County Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic’s endorsement of Mr. Sikora along with the two other endorsements he has garnered so far. I am not going to double down on Mr. Sikora’s personal issues, but there is a bit of a back story here that may nor not be of interest.
Mr. Bice isn’t the first writer to cover the topic. On November 10, 2011, Aaron Rodriguez on his The Hispanic Conservative website also broached the subject. But his headline read, “Marina Dimitrijevic Endorses a Delinquent”. Mr. Rodriguez went on to outline Mr. Sikora’s issues, but he went into more detail on Supervisor Dimitrijevic’s endorsement of Mr. Sikora. Somewhere The Hispanic Conservative is related to Milwaukee’s Latino Newspaper El Conquistador, since El Conquistador is referenced several times as the entity seeking comment about the endorsement of Mr. Sikora by the supervisor. And it becomes apparent that there is a history of animosity between Supervisor Dimitrijevic and El Conquistador. Several questions were put to the supervisor that essentially remained unanswered. And the post includes an email reply from Supervisor Dimitrijevic to an unidentified third party confirming the supervisor’s endorsement of Mr. Sikora.
Mr. Rodriguez goes on to question how Supervisor Dimitrijevic could endorse a candidate so early in the race and how she could endorse a candidate without vetting the other candidates. Well I don’t think that is all that unreasonable for a politician or political activist who has a history with the candidate. And Mr. Sikora as a union lobbyist and active Democrat has certainly had professional contacts with the supervisor prior to this election cycle. As for vetting other candidates, it seems to me that it is of critical importance for organizations to consider all potential candidates but not necessarily individuals. There are a number of people that I would endorse if they ran for office regardless of who their opponents might be.
Now should public officials be willing and open about explaining their endorsements? By all means and Mr. Rodriguez finds that lacking in Supervisor Dimitrijevic’s interaction with El Conquistador and in her reply to the anonymous person who handed the email over to EC.
After all of that explanation, I suggest you read the article. The headline, the article, the quotes, the overall tenor makes it apparent the axe being ground is with County Supervisor Dimitrijevic and just a modicum of concern with Mr. Sikora’s issues.
Now we start to get to the interesting part. Here is a quote for the email reprinted in the blog: “I will assume this is merely a faceless, cowardly attack”. I had seen something similar posted on Facebook by the supervisor and didn’t quite understand what it meant UNTIL…several liberal bloggers including myself received an email from a Nicole Ronto (using a gmail account). Ms. Ronto was apparently concerned that we would overlook the article on The Hispanic Conservative and cut and paste the entire article into the email along with the link and an email subject line of “Who is Milwaukee County Board Candidate Penny Sikora? What is he hiding?”
She seems to be active on Twitter trying to get her message out to the entire conservative world. But Google produces little info on any Nicole Ronto other than the tweets or a 19 year old woman from Vienna, who I wouldn’t expect to care much about Milwaukee County politics. But from the postings, this anonymous twitter seems more fixated on Mr. Sikora than Supervisor Dimitrijevic. I am assuming that my Nicole is also the Nicole of the email reprinted in the blog. I am incredulous that she doesn’t have a Facebook page. LOL! Nicole, come out, come out, where ever you are!
Now, the next unusual circumstance: also on November 10th, Julio Guerrero, Chair of the Latino Caucus of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, linked to The Hispanic Conservative post from his Facebook page. At the time he commented, “I don’t agree with the entirety of this article but when a candidate for office has numerous brushes with the law, I think the voters have a right to know.” Supervisor Dimitrijevic commented about Mr. Guerrero’s posting support for a conservative link. But he had foreseen that objection and had also stated that it wasn’t about right vs. left but instead right vs. wrong. On that line, I asked if anyone knew who the anonymous emailer was…no answer. I also asked what dog he had in the fight but last time I checked that was the last comment on that string.
I have known Mr. Guerrero for nearly 10 years, so while I was considering writing this blog, I messaged him via FB about why he had chosen to link the original story from The Hispanic Conservative. Here is Mr. Guerrero’s reply:
“I think that any candidate that has had numerous brushes with the law and serious accusations thrown at them needs to be critically examined. I’ve been discouraged that someone with such a questionable past is being promoted by some as the “best candidate” in the race when, in fact, I believe, he’s not even the best Democratic candidate in the race. I know that people do deserve second chances in life; however, deferred prosecutions imply that one has to agree to responsibility of wrongdoing in order to have charges dropped. Tracey Corder is a progressive Democrat, who has spent the past five years working in the juvenile justice system, helping young adults turn their lives around, spent the better part of the last decade working on various campaigns relative to civic engagement and is currently a member of the current Emerge Wisconsin class – part of a national movement to address the under-representation of women in elected office at the local, state, and federal level. I believe that she is the best and most viable candidate in the race and I am proud to support her. ”
And he very carefully added a second reply immediately after the first that was simply his title with the DPW: ‘- Julio Guerrero, Chair of the Latino Caucus of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’. Like I said, I know Mr. Guerrero personally and haven’t forgotten his election as caucus chair at the 2011 state party convention. We talked about it at the convention both before and after the caucus met. I wished him well on the way in and congrats after his victory! So it seemed strange that he reminded me.
So yes he does have a dog in the fight but he uses the word ‘I’ about the endorsement throughout his reply. So I asked if the endorsement was from a personal prospective or as the caucus chair. He assured me that it was as a concerned citizen and the caucus does not endorse individual candidates.
So where are we? The voters have to decide if Mr. Sikora’s problems make him unfit for the office of County Supervisor. Who is Nicole Ronto? What is her relationship to El Conquistador or Mr. Rodriguez or even Mr. Sikora? And excuse my ignorance but what is Aaron Rodriguez’s association with El Conquistador? Why the vehemence in this portion of the conservative Latino community against Supervisor Dimitrijevic? Is it because of her continued efforts to build her progressive bloc on the board and her open interest in the County Board Presidency? And why is the Chair of the Latino Caucus of the DPW willing to promote a conservative blog site in a campaign against someone I thought was a supporter his very caucus?