If you’re a progressive LGBT voter or ally looking for a candidate to enthusiastically support in the Democratic primary for Milwaukee County sheriff, you’re out of luck.
Incumbent Dave Clarke and his challenger, MPD Lt. Chris Moews, both say they support basic civil rights for LGBT people. But neither makes a strong case for that position, and during our interviews it was obvious that neither has given our community much thought beyond how to leverage it for votes. Moews, however, proved more conversant about our issues.
Clarke and Moews both describe themselves as men of faith and oppose a woman’s freedom to decide when and under what circumstances she bears a child. But Clarke has taken his religious faith into the workplace in inappropriate ways (one such foray resulted in a lawsuit), while Moews seems to understand that his personal beliefs have no place in administering a public office.
So, looking at this race strictly along the lines of progressive ideology and LGBT equality, we’d give only an edge to Moews. Looking at the race more broadly, however, we feel it’s important to support him.
Why? Despite that cowboy hat he’s so fond of wearing, Clarke has the intelligence, academic background and professional experience to lead a law-enforcement agency. But he clearly lacks the temperament and political skills of an effective leader.
Clarke has an embarrassing record of berating and retaliating against those under his command who dare to disagree with him. He’s arrogant and abrasive, going so far as to ignore court- and arbitrator-ordered actions.
An unsuccessful mayoral candidate in the past, Clarke seems to focus his efforts as sheriff on gimmicks designed to benefit him politically rather than on smart policies to serve the public. Despite running on the Democratic ticket, he has fueled the party’s resentment by aligning himself with the Tea Party movement. Milwaukee County Democrats made the unusual move of endorsing Moews in the Sept. 14 primary.
Moews appears to be everything that Clarke isn’t – a team player who’s respected and admired by his colleagues. Moews’ quiet circumspection is a welcome contrast to Clarke’s shrill bravado.
Moews has an impressively diverse resume that includes the kind of street experience most needed by a law-enforcement commander. But most importantly he understands that success as sheriff depends on the ability to motivate and inspire, and that’s a memo that Clarke obviously hasn’t received.