Why does Milwaukee County need an 18-member Board of Supervisors?
While it might constitute heresy for a liberal such as myself to suggest it, I actually think Milwaukee County’s Board of Supervisors could use some trimming down to a more reasonable number of supervisors (and no, cutting the size of the board by one seat to get rid of a conservative doesn’t really count).
When I wrote in May 2011 about the Marina Dimitrijevic-led plan to reduce the size of Milwaukee County’s board by one seat, I noted I didn’t necessarily favor a plan to reduce the size of the board by four seats, as was suggested by Supervisor Joe Sanfelippo. However, over a year and a half later I’ve come to the conclusion that shrinking the size of the Milwaukee County Board by four seats just might not be enough of a cut. Given Milwaukee County’s population of just over 952,000 residents and the current size of the board, each supervisor in Milwaukee County represents just over 52,000 residents.
In stark contrast, the 5 county supervisors in Los Angeles County (California) serve a total population of 9.8 million people, leaving each supervisor in that county responsible for representing just under two million residents.
In Cook County Illinois, 17 supervisors represent just over 5.2 million residents of that county, with each supervisory district representing approximately 300,000 residents.
And last (but certainly not least) is King County, Washington, which has 9 elected council members representing just over 1.9 million residents, with each council member representing 211,000 residents.
While I certainly understand that Milwaukee County, Los Angeles County, Cook County, and King County are all unique – as are the constituencies contained within those counties – I still cannot help but wonder why Milwaukee County needs an 18-member Board of Supervisors when other counties have been able to function and provide services to far more residents served by fewer elected officials. What work is done by our 18 County Supervisors that couldn’t be done by 11 supervisors…or 13 supervisors….or 9 supervisors?
Is the job of being a County Supervisor that much more difficult and time consuming in Milwaukee County than it is in Los Angeles, Cook or King Counties, thus explaining the need to have more supervisors in Milwaukee County, with each representing fewer citizens?
I don’t think it is, and voters in 12 of Milwaukee County’s 19 municipalities agree with me.