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Your guide to Milwaukee's February primary election

Voter registration application with flag of United States of America
Getty Images/iStockphoto
Voter registration application with flag of United States of America

The spring primary election in Milwaukee is coming up next Tuesday, Feb. 20, and — as always — it's a good idea to be well-informed about the races, how to vote and the candidates involved. This guide provides information to help Milwaukee residents navigate the upcoming election, which features several important races.

Milwaukee mayoral race details

The Milwaukee mayoral race is a significant citywide contest, drawing attention to its potential impact on the city’s future direction. Incumbent Mayor Cavalier Johnson, elected in 2022 to complete the term of former Mayor Tom Barrett, is seeking a full four-year term. Johnson’s tenure so far has been marked by his previous roles as Common Council president and a council member since 2016, bringing a wealth of experience in city governance to his mayoral duties. Here's the full list of candidates:

  • Cavalier Johnson (incumbent): Johnson’s leadership has been characterized by a focus on public safety, economic development and public health. His experience as Common Council president and his tenure as mayor give him a deep understanding of Milwaukee’s challenges and opportunities.
  • David King: Founder of the Wisconsin God Squad, King has a history of community involvement and has run for various offices at different levels of government, including lieutenant governor in 2022 and Milwaukee mayor in 2020. His platform emphasizes community engagement and safety.
  • Ieshuh Griffin: Known for her slogan, “The Poor People’s Piece of the Pie Campaign,” Griffin has been a perennial candidate in local and state elections. Her campaigns have often focused on social justice and economic equity. Griffin’s candidacies have been notable for their grassroots approach and advocacy for marginalized communities.

Common Council seats

The Milwaukee Common Council is a vital legislative body within the city’s government, comprising 15 elected members, each representing a district of approximately 39,800 residents. Council members serve four-year terms and have dual roles as legislators and district administrators. As legislators, they shape city policy, and administrators are responsible for the services citizens receive in their districts. The council controls the finances of one of Wisconsin’s largest corporations and determines the course of city services, statutes, development, and, thus, the city’s future.

The Common Council operates through a committee system, which is the cornerstone of the governmental process in Milwaukee. Proposals are typically referred to one of the standing committees for study, and these committees hold public hearings, take expert testimony, and may refer ideas to city departments, boards, or commissions for evaluation. The full council convenes after all committees have met and usually accepts the recommendations from these committees, although they can be discussed and amended on the council floor.

For the upcoming election, there are three contested races for the Milwaukee Common Council:

  • District 5: Lamont Westmoreland (incumbent), Bruce Winter and Stacy Smiter
  • District 7: Jessica Currie, Randy Jones, DiAndre Jackson and Kenneth Hughes
  • District 11: Peter Burgelis, Lee Whiting and Josh Zepnick

Milwaukee County Board seat

The Milwaukee County Board supervises and manages the county’s affairs, including the budget and services provided to residents. The board’s decisions significantly impact the county’s operations and the well-being of its citizens. The upcoming election focuses on District 18 (the far northwest side), with the top two candidates advancing to the April election:

  • Deanna Alexander (i)
  • John Martin (Marty) Hagedorn
  • Brandon Williford

Voting information

  • Election date: Tuesday, February 20, 2024.
  • Polling hours: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. (voters in line by 8 p.m. are allowed to cast their ballots).
  • Registration: Voters can register at their polling place on election day. Bring a valid ID and proof of residence.
  • Absentee voting: Absentee ballots are an option for those unable to vote in person. Check the local election commission’s website for deadlines and submission guidelines.

How to vote

  • Check registration: Make sure you are registered to vote using the MyVote Wisconsin search. If not, you can register on election day at your polling place.
  • Find your polling place: Visit the City of Milwaukee Election Commission website or MyVote Wisconsin to locate your polling station.
  • Bring ID: Wisconsin requires a photo ID to vote. Acceptable forms include a Wisconsin DOT-issued driver’s license, a U.S. passport or a Military ID card, among others.
  • Research candidates: Familiarize yourself with the candidates in each race. Consider their platforms, experience, and how their goals align with your vision for Milwaukee and its communities.

Additional resources

For more detailed information on candidates, specific ballot measures, and voting procedures, refer to the following resources:

By staying informed and participating in the electoral process, Milwaukee residents can help shape the future of their city and community. Remember, every vote counts!