Home / News / News Features / Four East Side Democrats Sprint to the Aug. 12 Primary

Four East Side Democrats Sprint to the Aug. 12 Primary

Assembly District 19 will have a new representative

Jul. 30, 2014
Google plus Linkedin Pinterest
When Democratic state Rep. Jon Richards announced that he would run for attorney general and not seek re-election to Assembly District 19, it was a given that top-notch candidates would vie to fill that seat. The district encompasses the lakeshore neighborhoods of Milwaukee County, from Bay View in the south to the UW-Milwaukee campus in the north, and it’s filled with politically active Democrats of all stripes.

Four Democrats have jumped into the race—former Assistant District Attorney Dan Adams, political aide Jonathan Brostoff, Milwaukee County Board Chair Marina Dimitrijevic and labor lawyer Sara Geenen. No Republican is running, so the winner of the Aug. 12 Democratic primary will face Pirate Party candidate Joseph Klein in the November general election.

The candidates spoke last week at a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters and the Downtown Neighborhood Association. Here’s what the Democratic candidates had to say.


Dan Adams

Dan Adams worked in the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office as an assistant ADA and his campaign is being championed by Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele. Adams’ primary priority is education; although he is quick to say that he supports any quality school, whether it’s public, voucher or charter, he is unabashedly a voucher supporter.

Adams said that he hopes to bring the ethos of a prosecutor and diplomat to the Legislature.

“After the last four years of extreme strife in this state it’s time for a peacemaker, it’s time for a reconciliation, it’s time for people to integrate, not to be a fighter, to be someone who will stand up for the majority of Wisconsinites who all want us to pull in the same direction,” Adams said.

Adams has raised $34,012 this year and had $29,300 on hand at the time of the latest campaign finance report. Abele’s campaign committee donated $500 to Adams’ war chest. Adams’ biggest supporters seem to be from the legal field with some Abele allies and voucher supporters mixed in, such as St. Marcus Lutheran School Superintendent Henry Tyson ($500); Tina Chang ($250); Abele political aide and Assembly District 10 candidate Tia Torhorst ($200); Brian Taffora, who works at Abele’s CSA Partners ($100); Isral Debruin ($100) and Melissa McGonegle ($75) of Schools That Can Milwaukee, where Abele is a board member; former pro-privatization MPS Board Member Bruce Thompson ($100); and conservative Milwaukee County Board Member Deanna Alexander ($20). The Milwaukee Police Association political action committee (PAC) gave Adams $250. Former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist also endorsed Adams.

To learn more about Dan Adams, go to adamsforassembly.com.


Jonathan Brostoff

Jonathan Brostoff has taken time off from his work as the district director for Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson; he also worked for Larson at the county as well as Milwaukee County Supervisor Jason Haas. He’s also worked as a paid and volunteer employee at local homeless shelters and family support centers.

He said he decided to run for office because “we are in crisis mode.”

“I agree wholeheartedly that we should be looking for compromise and looking for negotiation; that’s a great way to look at this situation,” Brostoff said. “But not compromise without leverage. That’s what we need right now. We need the ability to have some strength in the conversation because if we don’t we’re just going to keep getting steamrolled.”

Brostoff raised $32,816 this year and has $25,508 cash on hand. He’s garnered a number of high-profile endorsements from Democratic legislators, including state Sen. Nikiya Harris-Dodd; Assembly members Mandela Barnes, Fred Kessler, Sandy Pasch, Daniel Riemer and Katrina Shankland; Milwaukee County Supervisor John Weishan; and former state representatives Barbara Notestein and Sheldon Wasserman. He’s also been endorsed by AFSCME Local 82 and the state chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.

Brostoff’s donors show his deep connections in the progressive community. Among them are Art*Bar owner Donald Krause ($400), former judge Jim Gramling ($250), state Rep. Fred Kessler ($250), Democratic campaign operative Eric Hogensen ($250), Bonnie Bockl Joseph ($200), Nikiya Harris-Dodd ($200), Peter Goldberg ($200), Joseph Pabst ($100), Public Allies’ Paul Schmitz ($100) and state Rep. Dan Riemer ($100).

For more about Jonathan Brostoff, go to votebrostoff.com.


Marina Dimitrijevic

Marina Dimitrijevic is the chair of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors; she was first elected to the board in 2004 at the age of 22 and was elected chair in 2012. Dimitrijevic is the author of the county’s Greenprint environmental sustainability program, its domestic partnership benefit law and microloan fund, and ushered through the county’s new living wage ordinance.

“I’m worried about the state of Wisconsin right now and the lack of opportunity and people having a fair shot to succeed,” Dimitrijevic said. “I want to make sure everyone has that opportunity in the state of Wisconsin. And those values are under attack right now.”

Dimitrijevic raised $37,560 this year and has $40,906 cash on hand. Endorsements from individuals include U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore; Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett; former Gov. Martin Schreiber; Assembly members Christine Sinicki, JoCasta Zamarripa and Josh Zepnick; Milwaukee County supervisors Gerry Broderick, Khalif Rainey, Willie Johnson and Peggy Romo-West; and Milwaukee aldermen Tony Zielinski and Bob Bauman. She has been endorsed by a host of labor organizations, including SEIU Wisconsin State Council; AFSCME District 48; Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (MTEA); Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC); Wisconsin Jobs Now, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Fair Wisconsin, Clean Wisconsin Action, and individual unions representing MATC teachers, deputy sheriffs, nurses and health professionals, firefighters, auto workers and transit workers.

Notable donations have come from businessman Richard Abdoo ($500), Helen Jacobs of Milwaukee Catholic Home ($500), attorney Ron Jacobs ($500), lobbyist Moira Fitzgerald ($500), attorney David Gruber ($500), attorney Ulice Payne ($400), Café Centraal’s Nathan Owley ($350), Zoological Society President Robert Davis ($300), AFSCME’s Boyd McCamish ($250), nurses’ union chief Candice Owley ($250), MPS Director Larry Miller ($250), Jackie Boynton ($200), Lowlands Group’s Mike Eitel ($200) and Summerfest’s Don Smiley ($150).

To learn more about Marina Dimitrijevic, go to votemarina.com.


Sara Geenen

Sara Geenen is an attorney at the Previant Law Firm who specializes in labor issues. She said her experiences as a working mom and volunteer basketball coach at MPS inspired her to run for Assembly and focus on education and working families.

“I’ve seen a lot of things that are causing our schools to struggle,” Geenen said. “Public education is my concern. I’m worried that we are not addressing the cause of our students’ struggle.”

She said her background as an attorney has prepared her to think creatively and find common ground to work toward solutions.

“I think that’s the kind of legislator we need,” Geenen said.

Geenen raised $17,407 this year and has $14,746 cash on hand. Most of her funds come from fellow attorneys, including local lawyers Michael Cerjak ($350), Tom Flanagan ($350), Matthew Robbins ($250), Mike Murray ($200), Michael Hatch ($200), Chris Ahrens ($150), Marianne Robbins ($150), John Brennan ($150) and Robert Habush ($100). Geenen also took in $850 in PAC money from various unions. She’s been endorsed by United Steelworkers District #2, Teamsters Local Union 344 and 200, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 10, and the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers Local 18.

For more information about Sara Geenen, go to sarageenen.com.


Would white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan pose the same threat they do now if a mainstream Republican were president instead of Donald Trump?

Getting poll results. Please wait...