Primary Election Preview: Wisconsin State Assembly, 10th District
Rep. Sandy Pasch and community activists Millie Coby and Ieshuh Griffin will square off in a Democratic primary Tuesday. With no Republican in the race, the primary winner takes the seat.
With no Republican candidates on the 10th Assembly District ballot, Tuesday's Democratic primary is a winner-take-all contest.
Rep. Sandy Pasch of Whitefish Bay, Millie Coby of Shorewood and Ieshuh Griffin of Milwaukee are Democrats competing for the open seat, which includes Shorewood, Riverwest and parts Milwaukee's central city. Candidate Harriet Callier has dropped out of the race, but her name will still appear on the ballot.
The seat is currently held by Rep. Elizabeth Coggs of Milwaukee, but she vacating the seat to run for her cousin Spencer Coggs’ 6th Senate District seat.
The road leading up to the primary has been one embroiled with barbs aimed at Pasch, centering on her outsider status and race. Pasch lives in Whitefish Bay, but has committed to moving into the district if she wins the seat.
Most recently, Callier characterized Pasch as bordering on a "hate-filled extremist," as a parting shot. The debate has also been highlighted by comments made in debates from the candidates and by state Rep. Elizabeth Coggs, who urged citizens to "vote for someone that looks like you."
However, Pasch who has represented parts of Milwaukee, Shorewood and other North Shore communities in the 22nd Assembly District since 2009, has labeled the comments baseless and divisive attacks that have no place in the community or campaign.
She decided to run in the 10th District after Republicans divided her old district, creating a more conservative district, as part of last year's once-a-decade redistricting process.
Pasch garnered statewide name recognition when she challenged, but lost to, state Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) in last summer's Senate recall elections.
Pasch, who currently serves as the assistant Assembly Democratic leader and chair of the Milwaukee Democratic Legislative Caucus, said she would continue to fight for the health of the communities she represents. That means advocating for jobs, economic equality, investing in public education at all levels, and ensuring affordable access to quality health care for all.
"While Republicans and extreme special interests made an effort to eliminate me — and drastically minimize Milwaukee and Shorewood’s voice — from the Legislature, I am excited to continue standing up to the unprecedented attacks on our shared values and fight for our communities’ needs and priorities," she said in an email to Patch.
Community activist Coby said she boasts 20 years of community organizing and advocating for underprivileged people. Her background makes her uniquely qualified to represent the district and she's intimately tied to the district and understands its social challenges. While she now resides in Shorewood, she is a Milwaukee native, she added.
"I have the ability to identify with the district via my personal experiences," she said. "I live in this district, I am able to vote in the district; the people of the district deserve to have a representative that will fight for them. It’s time — it’s time, and I emphasize that — that the people have a legislator that is their voice, that is the people’s legislator."
She would spend her energy in the Legislature focusing on increasing funding of education, and promoting accountability.
"Education leads to the jobs. Jobs lead to the homes. And it goes on and goes on," she said.
Coby holds a bachelor's and master's degrees in education and is the executive director for the Ecumenical-COGIC service, which focuses on leadership development, organization and outreach. She is a board member of the NAACP and does missionary outreach as a licensed minister via the Church of God in Christ.
Griffin, who drew national attention when she lobbied to get the phrase "NOT the whiteman's bitch" on the ballot in a previous campaign for political office, said her top priority in the Legislature would be, simply stated, "the people."
She said she comes with no strings attached while her opponents are for "self as well as special interest."
"I am for the progression of the people and the district in which we reside in," she said. "Also, I am the only candidate that can readily provide the 10th District with a plan, a platform and a vision."
The devastations of poverty, unemployment and lack of service are as prevalent in the 10th District now as it was when she was growing up in Milwaukee, she said.
"The 10th District remains in a dire situation as compared to the other districts within Milwaukee County," she said. "The district is entitled to the proper and effective representation it deserves; this is why I am running."
Patch asked each candidate to complete a biographical questionnaire for voters.
Mildred Coby (D) - Did not respond
Ieshuh Griffin (D) - Did not respond