Lots of candidates filed to run in Milwaukee’s Spring Elections

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett formally filed nomination papers this week, in advance of Tuesday’s deadline, seeking re-election to a fourth term in that position.  Mr. Barrett narrowly won his first term in 2004 with 54% of the vote, but his two subsequent re-elections have been landslides, receiving 70% or more in both 2008 and 2012.  Given that Milwaukee’s Mayors are known for their longevity (the city has had only 8 Mayors over the last 100 years), will this year’s election be worth following?

It sure seems that way.  Candidate filing for all municipal offices closed on Tuesday, and there is plenty that is noteworthy:

  • Mayor Barrett will face three challengers, with two of them being current Common (City) Council members.   Both 2nd District Councilman Joe Davis, Sr. and 8th District Councilman Bob Donovan have been actively campaigning for Mayor for over a year now.  Interestingly, Mr. Donovan is also running for re-election to his Council seat, which is legal under Wisconsin law.
  • Even though 13 of Milwaukee’s 15 Common Council members are running for re-election, only one (Jim Bohl in District 5) will be unopposed.  That is the fewest number of uncontested council elections since the city reduced the number of alderman from 17 to 15 in 2004.  The only other officeholder running unopposed is longtime Milwaukee City Attorney Grant Langley, who will be elected to a ninth term.
  • Seven of the 15 Council contests will have a primary election this year, meaning that three or more people filed to run.  Not surprisingly, the two open-seat races attracted lots of attention, with six candidates running in each.  However the largest field is in Council District #9, where three-term incumbent Robert Puente faces no fewer than seven challengers.
  • All in all, the number of candidates running throughout Milwaukee reflects a big increase from 2012, when there were only two Council primaries and six Council members ran unopposed.

The Spring Primary election is on February 16th, which will feature all races with more than three candidates.  Locally, that includes the contest for Mayor and those seven Council seats, and statewide, a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.  The top two vote-getters in those races, as well as those contests with only two filed candidates, will then be on the ballot for the April 5th Spring Election, which is also the state’s Presidential Primary.

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