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By Victor Huyke

The Milwaukee Common Council members voted unanimously to elect 12th District Alderman Jose Perez as the next President.

Perez was the lone nominee and will serve a two-year term. Perez is the first Latino elected to the position. He replaces Alderman Cavalier Johnson, who served as President from 2020 until 2022, when Johnson was elected Mayor.

“I want to say thank you to my friends & colleagues,” Perez said. “Serving in this position is impossible without us being together; we won’t always agree, but I promise that we will talk, and we will agree to disagree sometimes, and I will listen.”

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By Victor Huyke

The Milwaukee Common Council members voted unanimously to elect 12th District Alderman Jose Perez as the next President. Perez was the lone nominee and will serve a two-year term.

Perez is the first Latino elected to the position. He replaces Alderman Cavalier Johnson, who served as President from 2020 until 2022, when Johnson was elected Mayor.

“I want to say thank you to my friends & colleagues,” Perez said. “Serving in this position is impossible without us being together; we won’t always agree, but I promise that we will talk, and we will agree to disagree sometimes, and I will listen.”

Perez was first elected to the Common Council in 2012. He previously worked for the AFL-CIO as an organizer and in Milwaukee’s Department of City Development as an Economic Development Specialist.

“I want my time as president to be about hope, about the future, and about shared purpose,” Perez said. “There’s lots of talks about divisions between the black & brown communities and the Asian & Native American and each of these against each other,” Perez said.

“These divisions are real, and I won’t deny knowing them, from seeing them first hand, but we must not let them take our eyes off the things that bind us together, shared experiences.”

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By Victor Huyke

By Victor Huyke For the first time in Milwaukee County history, three Hispanics will serve on the Milwaukee County Board simultaneously.

The recent Milwaukee County election brings two new members to the County Board of Supervisors. Dyango Zerpa and Juan Miguel Martinez were sworn-in to the Board of Supervisors on Monday, April 18, 2022.

Zerpa, the former legislative assistant to State Representative Sylvia Ortiz-Velez, will represent the 14th County Supervisor District.

Martinez, a union organizer and writer for El Conquistador Latino Newspaper, will represent the 12th District. Ortiz-Velez's former seat.

Marcelia Nicholson, the third Hispanic serving on the county board, is the current Chairwoman of the County Board of Supervisors. Nicholson was first elected to the board in 2016. She represents the 10th County Supervisor District.

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Supervisor Sylvia Ortiz-Velez released the following statement ahead of her departure from the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors: “On April 18, I complete my second and final term as Milwaukee County Supervisor for District 12. While I am bittersweet about leaving the board, I am immensely proud of the work my colleagues and I have done to create a better community for all our residents.

“Despite the challenge of legislating during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have accomplished some tremendous things over the past two years. I led the effort to decriminalize marijuana use and possession, reducing the fine in Milwaukee County to $1.

Removing obscene financial penalties for the use and possession of marijuana is a matter of equity, especially for Milwaukee’s Black and Brown residents who are disproportionately fined and incarcerated for marijuana-related offenses. “In 2021, I passed a resolution demonstrating the county’s strong support for legalizing fentanyl testing strips, a life-saving resource that was classified as drug paraphernalia for many years. Working with first-responders, community leaders, and state officials, we succeeded, and Governor Evers signed a bill legalizing testing strips. Milwaukee County has already begun to distribute strips throughout the community, delivering on a years-long effort to protect our Milwaukee community from fentanyl overdose.

“From community safety to community representation, I have always had the best interest of Milwaukee’s Latino residents in mind. During Milwaukee County’s redistricting process last year, I fought hard to ensure that the county’s new legislative map included two majority-Latino districts. In this, we succeeded.

For the next decade, the South Side Latino community can rest assured that their voices will not be diluted, ignored, or overpowered on the County Board.

“This past February, the Board of Supervisors approved my resolution requesting the federal Department of Justice review Wisconsin’s inequitable shared revenue system. Under this system and the funding formulas the state uses, our county pays out far more than it receives in return.

Milwaukee is the economic engine of this state and it’s time for the state legislature to treat us as such. This is a matter of equity to ensure that we can adequately fund all vital Milwaukee County services, programs, and departments. “My efforts to uplift a sustainable solution to restore our beloved Mitchell Park Domes have laid the groundwork for future action by the board. I implore my colleagues to prioritize the restoration of the Domes, not just for the Clarke Square and Silver City neighborhoods, but for all who visit this inimitable Milwaukee County landmark. “My friends, as I leave this office next week, I look back fondly and proudly on the good work that I have accomplished. I also look ahead to Milwaukee County’s many challenges and opportunities in the coming years. As I continue my service as State Representative for District 8, I am committed to being a proactive, collaborative partner with my colleagues at the county. “I extend my congratulations and best wishes to District 12’s incoming supervisor, Juan Miguel Martinez, as well as to another new, Latino member of the Board, Dyango Zerpa. Thank you to staff, colleagues, my community, and my family who have all contributed mightily to my success and efforts on Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors. Most of all, thank you District 12!” Supervisor Ortiz-Velez was first elected in 2018. She represents several neighborhoods on the south side of the City of Milwaukee, including Clarke Square, Mitchell Park and Walker's Point.

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By Juan Miguel Martinez

Milwaukee, WI – The Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory, or simply “The Domes,” is one of Milwaukee’s most beloved landmarks.

Constructed throughout an eight year period between 1959 and 1967, the three conoidal beehive shaped glass domes are the first of their kind, having been designed by a Milwaukee architect firm.

This was back in a time where Milwaukee was enjoying an industrial boom and there were jobs all over the city, with unions having a strong presence, making this a force to be reckoned with. It was at a time when the city was deemed one of the top five places in America where people of color could flourish and beer was putting us on the map.

Now in 2022, the domes have acted as sort of a metaphor for the city, falling into a state of disrepair and hurting for an economic boost to restore it to its former glory. “SAVE OUR DOMES” says the pin that Jeremy Ebersole is wearing, executive director of the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance.

“It is my hope that Milwaukee County can pull through for us and really boost support and funding for the Domes. It is the only conservatory Milwaukee has and is integral to maintaining the history of Mitchell Park,”

Ebersole said. Mitchell Park was the first park created by Milwaukee’s park commission. It occupies a spot on the south side of Milwaukee, with a core of 5 acres. It sits adjacent to the Menomonee Valley, and has had trails that run parallel built into it, thanks to the efforts of county and grassroots collaboration.  

The conservatory consists of three separate domes - The Arid Dome, which opened in November 1967, the Tropical Dome, which opened in February 1966, and the Show Dome opened in December 1964.

All three stand proudly overlooking the city, although a total of 800 glass blocks have fallen loose over the years. According to the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance report released in 2019, the Domes Task Force, a group commissioned by the County Supervisors and residents came up with the final plan that called for public engagement and suggested a preservation solution based on a vision to redevelop the park for financial sustainability through public and private partnerships. It also suggested using Historic Tax Credits.

This plan was put forth and made available to the public in 2019. It could create 300 jobs and $16 million a year in economic impact, which would be something that would reinvigorate the surrounding Clarke Square and Silver City neighborhoods.

An estimated $66 million investment would be required, including $13 million of County investment. “In this model, Mitchell Park becomes a new type of park – and a model for Milwaukee County Parks,” Ebersole said. “Programmed through partnerships with experienced Milwaukee organizations that know how to provide expertise in areas ranging from children’s summer camps to green teens programs year-round, to master gardener classes, culinary arts degree programs and horticultural degree programs.”

These relationships are designed to be a win-win, eliminate replication of what exists, taking every organization’s work to the next level. Architecturally, this work will be done in a sustainable, 50-year plan for the rehabilitation of the Domes, and in a collection of other spaces Park-wide that invite and involve community, from gardens to learning spaces, urban health clinic and training center for new horticulturalists.

The plan is intended to be implemented in phases over a ten-year period that would have started in 2020.” says Jeremy. When completed, Mitchell Park and its Domes will once again be the national breakthrough leader as was the case when they were built more than 50 years ago. This time they will provide a best practice example of a sustainable, urban botanical park - a place that demonstrates excellence and stewardship while showcasing history through its Domes.

The idea is to implement a state of the art farm-to-table restaurant, indoor and outdoor picnic spaces, parkwide lighting, an improved amphitheater, and a clean and fresh pond for Mitchell Park, which residents will agree is sorely needed. More than anything, creating an economic engine for the surrounding neighborhood as well as updating one of our most beloved and historic sites is absolutely paramount to a renewed collective self-esteem.

 

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