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Ashanti Lewis

Two Milwaukee aldermen join forces to oust council president

[UPDATED to include response from Ald. Michael Murphy]

In an unusual alliance, two aldermen are working together to oust Milwaukee Common Council President Michael Murphy on April 19.

First District Ald. Ashanti Hamilton and 14th District Ald. Tony Zielinski both said they’re seeking support from fellow council members in a run for council president. If neither of the two receives a majority, they will combine their support behind the one with the most backing.

Zielinski and Hamilton charged Murphy with failing to show leadership in addressing the central city’s high crime rate and lack of jobs. Both aldermen said it’s time that the problems of the central city rose to the forefront of the council’s attention.

“It’s (Murphy’s) job to be proactive and aggressive, and we haven’t seen that level of commitment,” said Zielinski.

“We’ve got to make (the central city) a priority,” Hamilton said. “If we bring our voices together, we know it’s going to be a priority.”

Murphy, who was recently re-elected alderman of the 10th District for the eighth time, winning 86 percent of the vote, declined to address that criticism directly. "I'm not going to get into that," he said.

But Murphy emphasized that he's proud of his record "for the city of Milwaukee and not just my district."

"I love being council president," he said. "I'm looking forward to continuing doing that in the future. ... I love helping people in the city. My goal is to make sure all of the people in the city have opportunities."

Zielinski and Hamilton have a track record of working to boost development and the quality of life in the central city.

Hamilton’s committee assignments include serving on the Wisconsin Center District Board of Directors and the Black Male Achievement Advisory Council. He's been appointed to the Milwaukee Area Technical College District Board and is awaiting approval by the Wisconsin Technical College System.

Zielinski serves on the council’s Community and Economic Development Committee as well as the Neighborhoods and Development Committee. Endorsed by Wisconsin Jobs now, he also belongs to the South 13th Street Area Business Association and the Bay View Businessmen’s Association. He was endorsed in his recent re-election bid by Wisconsin Jobs Now.

Zielinski’s south side district includes Bay View, and Hamilton's north central district stretches from West Capitol Drive to Brown Deer Park. Zielinski said the fact that a white leader and a black leader from two such disparate areas are joining forces to focus on the central city should send a message that conditions there are critical to all of Milwaukee.

Murphy's record includes creating The MKE Plays initiative, which is transforming 12 of the city’s most deteriorated playgrounds "into models for local collaboration and renovation over the next three years," according to his official website. He serves on the board of the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Oversight Committee, which was established by the United Way of Greater Milwaukee.

Murphy played a lead role in establishing the city's first housing trust fund, which was developed to provide affordable housing for homeless, mentally ill, and disabled residents. The fund also aims to help fund renovations of apartments and create new low-cost housing.

This is a developing story.

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