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Common Council Candidates Biddle and Stamper on the Issues Facing 15th District Residents

Special election will be held on Tuesday, April 29

Apr. 16, 2014
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Voters on the near North Side of Milwaukee will head to the polls on Tuesday, April 29, in a special election to elect their next representative on the Milwaukee Common Council. Union organizer Eyon Biddle and Milwaukee County Supervisor Russell Stamper II will be on the April 29 ballot for the 15th Aldermanic District, which has long been represented by Willie Hines, who left the Common Council earlier this year. Both candidates spoke to the Shepherd about their plans for city government.


Russell Stamper II

Russell Stamper II has spent his career working within the community. Currently a Milwaukee County supervisor and a Sherman Avenue homeowner, Stamper previously worked at the Social Development Commission and the New Concept Self Development Center. He is married with one son and a daughter due in July.

“I’m running for alderman because I love this district and I believe in the people in this district,” Stamper said. “I want to see it prosper and I think people deserve to be proud of where they live.”

Stamper said he wants to advocate for clean, safe and healthy neighborhoods. A top priority is tackling the problem of foreclosed and abandoned homes by promoting home ownership and job training.

“We will sell the homes for a little or nothing,” Stamper said. “I’m proposing giving them away to different neighborhood groups and organizations and have them train individuals from the community. You have to be in this district in order to get the training.”

He said he’d like to improve the curb appeal of the neighborhood by ensuring that garbage is picked up and police presence is increased and police response times and relationships with residents are improved.

Stamper said that he was happy that Mayor Tom Barrett refined his idea to repair potholes with workers who are jobless or have difficulty finding jobs because they are former offenders.

“I thanked him for taking my idea and making it better,” Stamper said. “They are going to hire 25 people from the transitional jobs program from the community and they are going to be part of a crew from the city that will repair the streets and fix these potholes.”

Stamper said he’s a strong Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) supporter but would consider allowing the city to charter more schools.

“It depends,” Stamper said. “If MPS can charter a school and it has a proven, quality curriculum, and they can provide a benefit to students with a quality education and quality teachers with a quality program, then yes. I’m not for holding on to things for no reason. This district is for whatever is under the purview of the power of the alderman. I will be letting things go, letting people build, and letting people provide jobs as long as it benefits the community and makes the community better and provides jobs.”

To learn more about Russell Stamper II, go to facebook.com/SupervisorStamper.


Eyon Biddle

Eyon Biddle is the political and organizing director for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 150. He is a former Milwaukee County supervisor and ran against Hines in 2012. He is married with three children.

Biddle said he is running to shake things up at City Hall.

“The status quo is really choking opportunities in this community,” Biddle said.

Biddle’s priorities are jobs and economic development, building the city’s infrastructure, enhancing public safety and dealing with the city’s housing crisis and abandoned and foreclosed homes.

Biddle said he would like to increase the city’s living wage, which stands at $9.33; the county’s newly enacted living wage is $11.33.

“I think we need to increase that,” Biddle said. “There are hundreds of workers who are working through contracts with the city and we can raise their wages.”

He said that he’d like to take his Ready to Work initiative to the city as well. Passed in 2011, then Supervisor Biddle and Supervisor Theo Lipscomb’s county program has helped 500 workers get job training and secure positions in manufacturing and construction jobs averaging $18 an hour.

“The crux of Ready to Work is working with the private and public sector employers with a market analysis of where the jobs are going to be and then training for those jobs,” Biddle said.

Young people and ex-offenders would also be a priority, Biddle said. He’d said he’d like to work with employers who are seeking city assistance to ask them to do more for city residents.

“You have the opportunity to tell them the story of your district,” Biddle said. “And the story of African American men and women who have been locked out of the mainstream economy. You can leverage those relationships because they are looking for those resources from you. You can say, ‘I need you to do more.’”

Biddle said he wasn’t interested in the city chartering more schools but would like to improve their accountability and transparency measures.

“I think the city has to do a better job of monitoring the charter schools that are already there,” Biddle said. “If we are going to be in the school business, are we doing a good job of ensuring that the schools we’re chartering are doing a good job? I think that’s questionable at this point.”

To learn more about Eyon Biddle, go to eyonbiddle.com.


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