Milwaukee Alderman Tony Zielinski has challenger in 2012

Just over a week ago at the Milwaukee Democrat monthly meeting, a friend pulled me aside and asked me if I knew who was going to run against Alderman Zielinski. I hadn’t heard and was hoping he wasn’t suggesting that I throw my hat in this ring as someone else had after my school board loss. Well, I hadn’t heard a thing about it.

Well today, the Bay View Compass published an article about Bay View attorney Jan Pierce, who has announced his candidacy for the 14th Aldermanic seat.

Mr. Pierce is currently employed as an attorney with Mawicke & Goisman, S.C., a Milwaukee business law firm. If elected alderman he has promised to leave the firm and work as the 14th District alderman full time.

The article states he purchased a home in Bay View in 2007 but doesn’t disclose if he was a resident of Bay View prior to becoming a home owner.

Pierce said he believes that the alderman should be a “typical Bay View person.”

I don’t know, but for a neighborhood that prides itself on diversity at all levels and it’s long history, a short term resident and attorney doesn’t sound like the typical Bay View person unless you too are one of the recent emigres from other parts of the city.

Pierce added that he’d like to encourage “hip-and-trendy” boutiques to take root in the district.

I don’t see this as a particularly different stance than Alderman Zielinski concerning development in Bay View. Because we’ve got plenty of hip and trendy boutiques and hip and trendy bistros and bars that the alderman has supported. Bay View is already a known commodity as an entertainment destination.

What we really need are real jobs in larger businesses that pay living wages with benefits. Not another purveyor of mac and cheese at wait staff salaries. We don’t want to become another Water Street or East Side. Although slow to react to this need, Alderman Zielinski has started to work in that direction with his support of green energy initiatives, the aquaculture center on Robinson, and various plans for brown field that was the Army Reserve Center just north of the Buelah Brinton center.

Mr. Pierce’s campaign treasurer is listed as Patty Pritchard Thompson, former President of the Bay View Neighborhood Association President and campaign treasurer for Meagan Holman’s successful 8th District Milwaukee School Board Campaign.

“I am not a career politician, and I am not burdened by years of politically motivated decisions or loyalties,” Pierce said.

Pierce said he never dreamed of getting into politics, but always felt he had the disposition to be a good lawyer. “Nobody really understands what it means to be a lawyer until you become one, but early on I had a sense I had the right personality for it. This is going to sound cheesy: I liked creating order out of chaos,” Pierce said.

Well, career politician or no, Bay View needs real jobs, better management of development, vibrant public transportation, protection of our parks and natural resources, and improvements in our local schools. If Mr. Pierce wants to unseat the very popular Alderman Zielinski (won in 2008 with 80+% of the vote), he will need fresh innovative plans and he’ll need them quickly.

And how about property taxes?

And this one poor sentence was hidden in the middle of the article:

Zielinski told the Compass he takes any challenger seriously.

Well of course he does!

6/9/2011 update: first of three followup articles


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36 thoughts on “Milwaukee Alderman Tony Zielinski has challenger in 2012

  1. Reading the rest of his activities mentioned in the Compass article, this seems a fairly unsurprising development, considering the “transition” status of the neighborhood. And a pretty well-worn path played out in many neighborhoods in many cities over the course of the last several decades.

    Z man himself represents a step in that transition, this would be yet another.

    Like it or not, at some point Bay View has to come to terms with the fact that it’s not a blue collar factory neighborhood anymore and may never be again. The magical period it’s in now, where the 2 paths of being both blue collar and trendy are co-existing, is not static. One of those trendlines has a positive slope, the other negative.

  2. I suppose I’m not as knowledgeable because I don’t live in Bay View, but has Zielinski done a poor job of representing his constituents?

    1. Can’t speak to that either since I’m not in his district, though I get the sense and believe Ed that he’s “proactive”. Just saying on a personal level he comes across as a jerk at times, based on how he talks down to a lot of his constituents who testify at committee hearings. He makes it pretty clear that if you’re in his district but aren’t the president of your local block watch your opinion doesn’t count.

      This is not to mention, again, that he clearly despises the existence of the big low income housing developments in the neighborhood along with the businesses that cater to those lower income folks.

  3. I don’t always agree with Alderman Zielinski…but he has always been willing to talk with me about issues and/or answered my emails in a quick and timely manner. He is highly visible in the district so I can’t imagine anyone who needs help with city issues will find him just as responsive.

    As to Bay View not being a blue collar factory neighborhood anymore, I don’t think that’s the issue. Many of us recent emigres (30 years in Bay View) came here because it was safe, quiet, affordable, and located near all of the great amenities of the city. If you want the hustle and bustle of the third ward or the east side, they are minutes away, but if I wanted to live in an environment like that I’d have stayed on the east side.

    We have enough coffee shops…we have enough mac and cheese emporiums…we have enough hip and trendy pubs…we don’t need anymore hip and trendy boutiques. If there is a need for anymore restaurants, more places like Tenutas or Pastiche would be welcome. We have more than enough salons. Alderman Zielinski has been a great advocate for these small businesses.

    There are plenty of minimum wage or just above without benefits jobs in the neighborhood. We need more substantial jobs with life sustaining pay and benefits.

    1. Is is necessary for people who live in Bay View to work there? Living wage jobs in Milwaukee is a great idea, but who cares if they are specifically in Bay View? This seems very provincial and unrealistic. It’s fine to encourage it, but to expect an Alderman or candidate for Alderman to commit to such a policy seems to overlook the much more important task of ensuring the quality of life for residents, regardless of age, employment status, or views on “hip and trendy” vs. “traditional” business development. Would people rather that all the locations that they term “hip and trendy” be sitting empty? Did they support these businesses when they contained more “traditional” activities?

      1. No of course it isn’t necessary for residents of Bay View to work in Bay View…but many do…and many of those hip and trendy boutique and restaurant staff don’t. But the point is, for Bay View to be a robust economy it has to offer businesses and jobs that run the gamut from entry level to family supporting. And people move here for it’s reputation and history as a safe family friendly area…and that history is built on local businesses including manufacturing, stores, bars and restaurants, etc. I don’t want to prevent change in Bay View but I don’t want lose the unique character of Bay View that brought all of us new arrivals here either. If I wanted an overparked, overly dense area with boutiques, spas, trendy bars, I’d go to the east side or third ward.

  4. From a story on Pierce in the Bay View Compass:

    “This district deserves active, honest, and open leadership,” said Pierce.

    Makes me wonder if Pierce thinks Tony Zielinski hasn’t been active, honest, and open.

  5. Having been invited to a neighborhood meeting and quickly dismissed by Mr. zielinski when it became clear that my view did not mirror his, I welcome any challenge to his “good old boy” style of politics. Knowing that the challenger will by Jan Pierce, who I have met several times and respect delights me immensely. I can’t think of a better representative for our neighborhood. We can do better than Zielinski, and Jan represents the change we need.

    1. Chris, I don’t have an issue with a challenger to Alderman Zielinski. My point is Mr. Pierce’s only development idea from this article is frivolous. There are serious opportunities in Bay View for anyone who really wants to make hay. And to claim to be a typical Bay View person when he isn’t from Milwaukee, is a short term BV resident, and is an attorney…doesn’t sound like a typical BV’er. There are a couple of other background issues I haven’t had a chance to explore yet.

      I have lived here long enough to see the old businesses on Bay View leave or fold and store fronts get boarded up…and now current revival which is welcome and has a lot to do with Alderman Z’s efforts. As I have stated before, I don’t always see eye to eye with him, BUT I would want to see a challenger with clear and definitive ideas…and to announce without a more dynamic and unique platform just seems to me to be poor planning and makes me question the motivation.

      I have been invited to meet with Mr. Pierce and will certainly take the opportunity to do so. And early next week watch for a new post on some of the issues I see in Bay View.

      1. How many years does a person need to live in Bayview before you’ve deemed them to be a resident? 5 years isn’t long enough for you?

  6. Comments about Zielinski aside, I don’t feel strongly about him one way or the other – many things he’s done for the city have provided very positive, progressive leadership.

    What I really want to see next cycle is someone strong step up and take on that clown Donovan.

  7. If you have any questions about Alderman Zielinski, just look at K.K. Av. Its night and day. It was on the decline until Ald. Zielinski was elected and turned it around. I see a lot of improvements in Bay View thanks to Ald. Zielinski. I dont think you could ask for better. He is hard working and has a vision and the community benefits. And on top of all the new business there are new jobs.
    I am proud to call him my Alderman. I have lived in Bay View all my 50 years.

  8. I was a volunteer on the Bay View Neighborhood Association. My problem with it is they do nothing to help the local businesses. They have pumpkin carving events, concert series in the park, chili contest but no event to improve the business district. I mention this because Mr.Pierce is the membership chair on the association and he did nothing to bring in new members. How will be good for the growth of Bay View when the organization he belongs to does nothing and he does nothing for that organization?

    1. Don’t you think getting people out and about with their families to community events, creating a strong sense of community and likely thereby spending money at their local businesses…helps those local businesses?

      Why does every aspect of our lives have to be saturated with the question of “is it good for business”? Why can’t the first priority be “is it good for the people and for the community?”

  9. Obviously it isn’t enough because the revolving businesses that come in and out of Bay View happens to frequently. Plus their attitude towards the business district is negative. I witnessed this first hand volunteering for them. Besides all that my point is specifically towards Jan Pierece involvement with the Bay View Neighborhood and his lack of effort to increase business membership. Obviously he is not about helping the local businesses or neighborhood because he did nothing during his time with the Bay View Neighborhood.

  10. We need a balanced viewpoint. We need the input of constituents, the majority, in order to make decisions for the area. It should not be up to one person to make decisions for a specific area. And, I’m sorry, but Bay View has a lot of potential. The progress along Lincoln would have happened no matter who was in charge

    1. Kiara I’d have to respectfully disagree with a few things.

      First, the alderman (any alderman) is elected by a majority.

      Second, the one person makes decisions because…well… that’s the entire point of electing people to make certain decisions as prescribed by law, and when we don’t like those decisions we get frequent opportunities to fire that person. So these first two you’ve just totally confused me on – help me if I’m misunderstanding.

      Third, you’re right about Bay View having a lot of potential, but development doesn’t normally happen by accident, and though I’ve certainly got some criticisms of Zielinski, he has put in tireless effort to help bring those developments in and deserves credit for that.

  11. On a somewhat related note – word is Jennifer Morales is going to run against Bob Donovan.

    This is very, very good news. She should be able to mop the proverbial floor with him.

    Couldn’t be a much bigger change than going from an old, race-baiting, arch-conservative, stuck in happy days land, loud mouth white male to a young, latina, lesbian, intelligent progressive.

    1. I don’t know that Morales will be able to “mop the floor” with Donovan, simply because there is an advantage to incumbency.

      Having said that, I do think Jennifer Morales can beat Bob Donovan.

      1. Mop is certainly too strong a word…but I do believe that district is now more Hispanic than in the past.

        1. Mop is certainly too strong a word

          Nothing to add – just thought this quote is funny when taken out of context!

  12. Ms. Morales was at Drinking Liberally on Monday to talk about her candidacy and other topics of local interest…yes she is in the race!

  13. Mr. Heinzelman’s comments about the ‘term of residency’ feels like one of those old-style Political Machine comments that are invoked to disregard “upstarts” like Pierce.

    It’s a remarkably un-democratic notion too. BV certainly enjoys the stability of many long-time/multi-generational families and businesses. It also enjoys the stability of many new-moves, folks like me (and my wife) who *selected* BV from not only the MKE neighborhoods, but the regional ‘burbs as well.

    Mr. H: I am no less a citizen and voter, and I am no less vested, and I am no less important to this neighborhood than any 20, or 35, or 60 year resident. In fact, I daresay that I and many other new-moves are *exactly* a part of the changing face of the 14th. We are educated (as are you), we are engaged (as are you), but we don’t have the ennui of long-term residents who may be for TZ simply b/c “he’s always been there.”

    In point of fact, there are many small businesses in BV that have found TZ to be flat out obstructionistic in his approach. He doesn’t seem to have any new ideas. He doesn’t impress me (and I’ve spoken to him several times) to quite “get” what BV 2011 is…and it likely is not BV 1999.

    Do I think TZ is a bad Alderman? I do not. In fact, “he’s not a bad Alderman” is exactly the problem: I don’t want a “not bad” Alderman. I want a GREAT Alderman. And quite frankly, I see in TZ the old machine, the negative campaigner, the hyper “fer me or agin me” old pol that isn’t bad…but isn’t good.

    And I am not convinced that he is prepared to lead BV anymore, if he ever did (e.g., the City loans to Sweet Water that he orchestrated may be his Solyndra–the City isn’t a bank, and it isn’t “progressive” to throw tax money at a bad business, even if it is a green business).

    He may be “good enough” but “good enough, ain’t good enough anymore.”

    1. Paul,

      I wasn’t denigrating new or recent residents to BV. Nor do I think there is a minimum requirement of living in BV in order to be relevant. What I objected and clearly pointed out in the original post to was the claim that the alderman should be a “typical Bay View person.” I simply questioned the implied supposition that Mr. Pierce therefore considered himself a typical BV person and by implication that Alderman Zielinski is not. And no one has attempted to define the term.

      As for Ald. Zielkinski always being there…I suggest you check the history of the 14th just a bit. I have suffered through some particularly abysmal alderman in the past.

      btw: you will notice that I didn’t use any disparaging names for either candidate…I didn’t call Mr. Pierce an ‘upstart’ nor Ald. Zielinski an old pol.

      And I did clearly state that Mr. Pierce is being taken seriously by the incumbent and of course by myself or I wouldn’t have written the post nor met with Mr. Pierce afterward (nor my follow up on some of the issues I see in BV).

      1. Fair enough. Although I was responding to “a short term resident and attorney doesn’t sound like the typical Bay View person unless you too are one of the recent emigres from other parts of the city”.

        From my short tenure, I’m not sure there *is* a helpful definition of a ‘typical Bay View person’ although common qualities seem to be a strong pride in the neighborhood, a lively willingness to go face-to-face (even in a blog setting) to chat out the issues, and a sense that we can be better…and we shall be.

        I have heard stories about the previous fella (and this is what makes me think that “pride + better” are definitional qualities).

        One of my concerns, and this applies to US politics from big to small, is that a docile electorate makes things very easy for the two Machines to select and elect whom they choose. If I am right about the “lively willingness” and if any Machine is expecting a docile Bay View, then we should see some sparks…in fact, we have already seen such sparks. Whether they lead to light or to heat is *our* responsibility.

        Socrates stomped around Athens for decades demanding of his own politicians nothing more than an answer to the question (in its various forms) “What do you know about the good community, the common good, the good itself?” While its easy to see this as merely sniping at politicians (hardly an interesting sport after all), I think what he was really up to was telling *us* that we need to demand answers to the very same questions today.

        Once asked, we have to insist on answers to the questions, not talking around them. For instance, Mr. Zielinski, I think, would quickly list his “vast accomplishments” (as the Machine has titled them). I would expect that Mr. Pierce would promote his plan to hire a bilingual English/Spanish staffer.

        We shouldn’t be satisfied with either of these answers–not because they are false, but because they aren’t answers to the question.

        If either of these men cannot answer “What is the good community” then they are telling us they haven’t *thought* about the question sufficiently to answer–and in that case, neither is fit for the position. So ultimately, campaigns should not be about what candidates tell us, it should be about how they answer this very simple, very difficult question.

        Pace Socrates: The unexamined candidate is not worth the voting.

  14. Alderman Zielinski only helps those he wants to help-those that fit his political agenda and/or pay to play. He does not let the local business owner have a fair chance at doing business, unless it fits his political agenda. Look at his financials related to donors-many are from outside of Bay View. He is fake and superficial. He also uses constituents to get his agenda across. Many of them don’t even realize they are being played this way-like pieces in a chess game. He uses them at town hall meetings to promote his ideas.

    1. “Look at his financials related to donors-many are from outside of Bay View”

      Apparently you are new to politics…show me just one politician that only gets money from residents of his district (and by the way the 14th AD includes more than just Bay View)…and I think you will find his opponent has contributions from outside his district as well.

    2. Kiara, how many of Jan Pierce’s campaign contributors are from outside the district he wants to represent? Do you know?

      I ask because I’ve looked at Pierce’s financials, and there are a good number of contributors who don’t live in the district Pierce wants to represent.

      1. It’s only logical that local candidates for office would have contributors from outside the district…the first people any candidate approaches for funds to get the campaign rolling is friends and familly…and in 21st Century society it is unlikely that all of these people would live in the district…second group would be co-workers and other acquaintance and maybe business partners, customers or vendors…it would be an interesting campaign finance concept to require all donations to come from within the district.

        1. Quibbling over ‘outside the district’ contributions takes our eyes off the ball.

          Overwhelmingly, Zielinski’s donors are NOT family, friends and co-workers, they are very people who need him to approve their liquor licenses. For a fellow with the shadow of “you have to pay to play in the 14th” this is disconcerting.

          And Zielinski’s recent very public dust up with businessman Paresh Patel over a conversation b/n them that blended a licensing application and solicitation for campaign donations *at the same time* is deeply, deeply troubling.

          It isn’t a Walker-level scandal, but Zielinski makes to effort at avoiding ‘even the appearance of impropriety.’

          Add to that his odd association–and campaign happy-photo–with the most notorious Union-buster in Wisconsin, Piggly Wiggly’s Paul Butera plus Zielinski’s awful absenteeism at committee and Common Council meetings and you have a pretty clear picture of poor leadership, disconnect from the community, and a disengaged, visionless Alderman.

            1. As I said, Ed, this “outside the district” smokescreen distracts us from the real issue: WHO is contributing?

              We have an incumbent who, by his own statement to the Bay View Compass, engaged in a conversation with a liquor license applicant (Paresh Patel) at the same time he had a campaign contribution conversation with him. Maybe that explains why his contributions list has so many liquor license holders/applicants, maybe not.

              Even Ald. Donovan has cried foul, as recently as November 2011 in open Council–‘something isn’t right about this.’

              Zielinski needs to address this ‘pay to play’ cloud over our District and stop hiding behind his yard signs. I doubt he will though–his grotesque absenteeism from Council functions give evidence that he is not interested in serving the 14th…no matter how interested he is in the 14th serving him.

                1. Oh, please, Ed. That really is beneath you. But, I guess if you’re confessing, you’re forgiven.

                  If you’re referring to me, well, you’re confessing again. The issue, and the only issue, regarding campaign contributions is whether the incumbent, has misused his authority to garner them. There are reasons to question his integrity, but Zielinski ducks the issue, preferring to pose for pretty-pictures with the Union-busting Paul Butera (a point you have assiduously ignored, but which the NLRB did not in its 40-page spanking of Butera for his trashing of hundreds of Union jobs in Sheboygan and Appleton). According to Zielinski’s own campaign lit, they are buddies.

                  It’s a pretty sad example of Democratic values to pose with the most notorious Union-buster in the WI grocery business in campaign lit…a bit like Walker asking Bill Ayers for an endorsement and a hearty handshake. But, after all, Z’s governance style is more like Scooter’s than not–divisive, secretive, vacant.

                  The broader issue, beyond contributions, is the incumbent’s history of abandoning his duties via his well-documented absenteeism as an Alder and his broadly demonstrated incompetence in representing the 14th–with the very small exception of the support he has given his contributors who own property in a very small section of KK.

                  And now, we’ve reflected, not deflected, back to the real issue of campaign contributions: not so much a question of where but by WHOM?

                  I invite you to reflect, not deflect, on that question…

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