Thursday, March 29, 2012

Race Has Become A factor For Aldermen In The 8th And 12th Aldermanic District In Milwaukee

Facebook has become a forum for political expression and has allegedly created a race feud to attempt to oust the current White aldermen in the 8th and 12th Districts.

By H. Nelson Goodson
March 29, 2012

Milwaukee - The get out the Latino vote has created a race identity factor for the 12th Aldermanic District in the predominately Hispanic community. The organizers involved for the get out the Latino vote have been accused of crossing the line and making race as a the main issue to get elected instead of experience, economic development or accomplishments in the district.
On Thursday, Juan Carlos Ruiz, who has been campaigning to get out the Latino vote disputed the allegations. He said, that race was not an issue in both districts as some have tried to play on, but to get out the Latino vote. Hispanics need to come out and vote, according to Ruiz. Ruiz confirmed, he is not telling anyone who to vote for, as he leads the get out to vote campaign, but wants people to come out on Tuesday and vote.
Ruiz of Peruvian descent has also taken the lead to get out the Latino vote on his Facebook account and has campaigned during his three day a week Nfoque Latino radio program, which he is one of the radio hosts. Zonia Lopez, a Mexican national is the other co-host at Nfoque.
So far, Ruiz has invited Latino candidates from the 8th and 12th Districts to speak about issues in the program. Ruiz says he has invited Alderman James N. Witkowiak as well to the program. Witkowiak has appeared on Nfoque and is currently running for re-election in the 12th District.
The alleged controversial race issue has raised awareness that an election is taking place and the final results would effect the future leadership and economic well being of both the 8th and 12th Aldermanic Districts. Both Aldermen Robert "Bob" Donovan from the 8th and James "Jim" N. Witkowiak from the 12th District are White.
Would race even matter in this election? Donovan and Witkowiak have proven track records of bringing economic development into the districts, returning calls to residents, assuring city services continue to be provided in their districts, regulating beer or alcohol licensing, fighting crime and have built a working relationship with the 2nd and 6th District Police Station captains.
Challengers and candidates José Pérez from the 12th District and Benjamin Juarez from the 8th District are both Hispanics, viewed as political newcomers and have never held an elected position. Pérez is of Puerto Rican descent and Juarez is Salvadorian, who are well educated and capable of holding public office. Pérez and Juarez do represent a minority population compared to a large Mexican population residing in the 8th and 12th Districts. They and their counter parts are running campaigns to represent everyone in their districts.
Alderman Witkowiak hired a Hispanic to lead his re-election campaign and Pérez hired a non-Hispanic to run his campaign. If race has become a factor in the 12th Aldermanic District, it sure shows it in the management of the campaigns for these candidates. It seems, Witkowiak works better with Latinos and provides an opportunity for a Hispanic to manage his campaign and also has a Latina working as his legislative aid. Pérez seems to have better confidence of hiring a non-Hispanic to run his campaign.
But as usual, Pérez has kept quite about the whole race factor in the aldermanic race.
Should race be a factor?, especially when the 12th Aldermanic District is composed with 67% of Latino population, according to Ruiz.
The most important factor about both Aldermanic districts is that they have become very diverse in population. In the next nine years, if gentrification is not regulated and Hispanic business growth is not allowed to flourish or promoted in the districts, they will become increasingly a White population dominated district. The outcome, a loss of political representation.
For example, Walker's Point and Third Ward in the 12th District have increasingly become White business dominated, including in population and are independently working separatedly from the predominately south side Hispanic community district.
The Hispanic population is slowly, but steadily spreading and moving south and west from the south side.
Voting-age Hispanics should stand their ground and elect the best candidate that will fight for their interests and the right to co-exist in the rapid economic development growth taking place in the 8th and 12th Aldermanic Districts.
The General Election is on Tuesday, April 3rd.

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