Milwaukee, Wisconsin 2021-08-04 09:10:04 –
Marceliani Corson was elected in 2016 as a county supervisor for District 5, including downtown and parts of the North Side. Last year she became the first black woman to chair the county oversight board. In addition, Nicholson continues to serve on the board of directors of the Milwaukee Public Library and the Milwaukee Museum of Art, along with the board of local progressives, a national network that supports, connects and integrates elected officials and affiliates in the progressive region.
Please tell us your background.
I was born and raised here in Milwaukee. I grew up with a zip code of 53206. This is one of the poorest and most imprisoned zip codes in the country, as most of us know. That’s why my upbringing here and the product of Milwaukee Public School really influence my work and insist on issues such as racial equality, public education and community-led economic development.
After graduating from high school, I went to UW-Milwaukee and then became a 4th grade teacher at Milwaukee Public School. Here I started to get more involved in the activity as a member of the Milwaukee Teacher Education Association. I worked to organize our members for better working conditions. Shortly after this, I decided to run for the county committee.
What made you run for county chairman in 2020? What kind of change or new direction did you want to pursue? What were your goals for the first year?
I ran for county chairman because I believe in the ability of local governments to improve their communities. To do so, we need the involvement and trust of the people.
Milwaukee County has suffered a long-standing reputation, from policy and surveillance issues to internal and public conflicts. In addition, it was sometimes difficult to build consensus due to the different priorities of the components. But despite our different districts, we all share a common goal. It’s about making Milwaukee County a place where people can live and thrive in good health. We had a real opportunity to move towards a shared vision and I wanted to participate in moving us in that direction.
My first year goals are to support configuration services, provide strong staff training and engagement, enhance collaboration with county executives, county clerk, and other departments, and be comprehensive and participatory. It was to provide a streamlined policy adoption process with a focus on budget and fairness. And sustainability. Despite the international pandemic, I am proud to have achieved many of my goals.
What are the county’s long-term goals?
Achieving racial equality is my top priority. In 2019 I sponsored resolution Declare racism as a public health crisis in Milwaukee County. We were the first municipality in the country to do that. Since then, well over 100 other people have taken control of us. Last year we took it one step further. Ordinance All departments are committed to working on structures and practices that contribute to racial health inequalities. An example of this is the Racial Equality Budgeting Tool, which all departments are required to use when completing budget requests.
I have created and expanded two committees to monitor strategic plans, a resolution seeking reports from the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office, the Department of Transport, and the Circuit Court, and several others trying to address racial disparities. I sponsored that law. About what they can do to achieve our goal of racial equity.
You were elected chairman by a colleague in April 2020, just weeks after the blockade of the pandemic. How has the pandemic changed your job?
Most obvious is the fact that we have held virtually all county board and committee meetings. There are one-third of county committees that I have never met in person. Thankfully, we’re on track to return to the hybrid model in September. I couldn’t get any more excited, especially for those who were in the boardroom and didn’t have the great opportunity to feel that special energy.
The board is very well adapted for working remotely. I have virtually onboarded many staff, successfully reorganized the department to better support my boss and serve the general public. We are also proud to have built a system that allows the general public to virtually provide live comments at the committee meetings. The participation of the general public is very important to our work as a member of parliament, and it is very beneficial to receive the same level of feedback as when we met in person.
What was your biggest challenge as a chairman other than the pandemic?
In addition to the pandemic, one of my biggest challenges is navigating the challenges of erasure, racism, sexism, and working primarily in the field of men. I have often been left out of media coverage and community stories surrounding my leadership and the initiatives I have created or led. My policies and decisions have undergone an additional level of scrutiny, and mansplaining is usually an additional layer. This is not very true for my male colleague.
In addition, I have been threatened by the general public and opposed my policies and efforts to increase fairness, eradicate racism and protect democracy.
The county council is a non-partisan body, unlike the state legislature and parliament, but what are the advantages of leading a non-partisan legislature over a party legislature?
Independent groups will find it easier to find something in common with other members without having to agree on a particular issue. It makes it easier to see all members as individuals, not just the letters next to their names.
Great cooperation that former Milwaukee County executives, who had been constantly fighting the county board in the past, and you and the county executive Crowley are pulling in the same direction you are trying to deliver to your members. Seems to have built a relationship. What is the secret to working together without suffering?
County Officer Crawley and I have a great relationship. We were friends even before one of them ran for the elected position. One of the reasons I chaired the board was because I wanted to remedy this friction between the legislature and the government. At the beginning of each of our terms, county executives and I met for about an hour each week. We don’t meet so often anymore, but we still communicate with each other on a regular basis. That communication is really important. Even if the county officials and I disagree on a particular issue, we have agreed to do so with respect.
On the policy front, the main issue seems to be the fact that Milwaukee County suffers from a structural deficit that forces significant budget cuts each year. What can we do about this seemingly unmanageable problem?
Budgets continue to be an incredible challenge year after year. A cumulative $ 280 million savings was required to balance the last nine county budgets. In addition, the cost of state-mandated services continues to rise due to stagnant shared revenues. Without additional income, there would be no local funding to invest in local priorities by 2027.
That’s why we continue to insist on the ability to generate local income at the state level to properly invest in the services we all enjoy. An additional 0.5% sales tax will generate about $ 80 million annually. This is the unprocessed portion of postponed maintenance in our park, or the money we can spend to regain many bus routes that we had to reduce over the years. Our ability to invest in these priorities allows us to remain competitive across the region.
Want to add something I didn’t bring out?
Public services are a sacrifice and we are honored to serve and give back to Milwaukee as a young leader in this community. While I love and prosper this job, I also have many hobbies and interests. I’m a bakery, a mother of plants, a painter, and I love traveling in my free time. When I’m in the community, I want to look real and real. And, inevitably, when we end our term on the board, we want people to know that our humanity is more than a title for me. Like your readers, I want the best for Milwaukee and all the residents living here.