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10th Assembly District Candidates Preach Unity in Shorewood

More than 50 people attended the Grassroots Shorewood forum Monday at the library. The primary election is Aug. 14.

Candidates vying to represent the 10th Assembly District, newly drawn to include Shorewood with neighborhoods in Milwaukee's inner city, spoke passionately Monday night at the about ways to address the needs of two demographically diverse places now politically bound together.

"I’m not as familiar with Shorewood as I am with Milwaukee, and if Shorewood was isolated, I wouldn’t really know how to approach you because you all don’t really see the problems that we have," candidate Ieshuh Griffin of Milwaukee said during the forum, organized by Grassroots Shorewood. "I’ve never really seen a boarded up home in Shorewood. I’ve never really seen homeless people in Shorewood. But I understand Shorewood has issues as well … and I can serve you. I believe in diversity; I think it’s a good thing that we have two sides of the coin and we’re integrated." 

All four Democrats in the 10th district race — Griffin, , Millie Coby of Shorewood and Harriet Callier of Milwaukee — attended the forum, hoping to win the seat held by Rep. Elizabeth Coggs of Milwaukee. Coggs plans to run for her cousin Spencer Coggs’ Senate District 6 seat, and with no Republican on the 10th District ballot, the winner of the Aug. 14 primary earns the seat. 

Pasch, who represents Shorewood in an assembly district that was redrawn to cut Shorewood and include more of the North Shore, berated the redistricting plan for dividing her district. 

"The district was pretty much destroyed in the redistricting plan," Pasch said. "I am not ready to give up the work I started in the state Legislature just because of the redistricting ... It was a divide-and-conquer effort on (Republicans') part and I hope we can rise above that."

Finding the face of the new 10th District

Pasch was in Milwaukee for living outside the 10th District, in Whitefish Bay. She has committed to moving into Shorewood should she win the election. Pasch asserted that in office she has always worked on issues faced by the city of Milwaukee, and would continue to pursue these priorities if elected in the 10th District, in her positions as chair of the Milwaukee Democratic Legislative Caucus and Assistant Assembly Democratic Leader.

"I’ve been representing Milwaukee issues since I got to Madison," Pasch told Patch after the forum. "They are issues that I know people in Shorewood also care about. I’ve been a strong voice for Milwaukee and I will continue to be a strong voice for Milwaukee.”

But Shorewood resident Coby, formerly of Milwaukee, said she would be a better representative because she could bring an understanding of both neighborhoods to the assembly seat. Coby said her adoptive mother died when she was young, leaving her homeless in the city. 

"I didn't have anywhere to go; I didn't have any family," Coby said. "That's the face of many of the constituents of the Milwaukee side. They're wondering where they're going to live, where their next meal is going to come from. There were many days when I didn't have food to eat. I didn't have clothes to wear; I had to wear the same thing over and over again. So I've lived both sides."

Coby said she moved to Shorewood in order to send her son to the public schools, and she joined the other three candidates in emphasizing education as an issue both Milwaukee and Shorewood can work to improve. 

Forum focuses on education

Candidates fielded several questions about education Monday, and all had fistfuls of criticisms for state policies and proposals from the funding formula down to voucher programs and merit pay systems. 

"Instead of equalizing things up so everyone has a high ceiling for education, they’ve equalized things down," Pasch said, referring the state funding formula for public schools. "We need to look at that formula, we need to look at it seriously, and we need to redo it."

When asked about merit pay for teachers, the candidates agreed that it could be problematic. 

"(A) merit system does not work for me," Callier said. "At any point you’re using a merit system where human lives are involved, whether it’s health care or education, it does not work."

On the voucher system there was more disagreement. While Pasch was the only candidate to say point blank she did not support vouchers, Griffin was the only one to back them. 

"I’m a product of a choice school; I graduated valedictorian of that school," Griffin said. "The reason I chose a choice school was because when I was in public school I saw a lot of things I did not like as it relates to the discrimination, the lack of education and so on. I support that every parent should have the right to educate their child as they see fit."

Navigating a shared future

Grassroots Northshore Founder Keith Schmitz, who helped organize the forum, said Shorewood's new district brings a unique set of challenges, but he thinks Shorewood's priorities actually align well with the needs of the inner city. 

“It is obviously two different areas that are brought together in one district, but I think what this does is it affords an opportunity," Schmitz said. "There’s a lot of issues that need to be solved that apply to all of us and if we can find a way for all of us to work together, I think this turns this redistricting in regards to Shorewood into an opportunity to create some change.”

Schmitz cited transportation as an example of an issue the two communities can ally on. 

"I’m sure a lot of us support the idea that we need mass transit in order to reduce the stress on the environment, but we also know that mass transit is also necessary for a lot of people in the 10th District to get to jobs," he said. 

All of the candidates expressed excitement about the unique diversity of the district and opportunities for collaboration. 

"Shorewood is definitely a beautiful place, and I wish I could see some of the things in Milwaukee, specifically the central city, that I see in Shorewood, and hopefully if I’m elected I bring some of those things into the inner city," Griffin said. "The reason I’m running basically is because is we don’t see these things; we don’t have this type of quality of life, quality of service.  We don’t even have this type of commitment as far as uniting, coming here and listening to your potential representatives, because there are a lot of unique issues going on in Milwaukee."

After the forum Monday, Schmitz hardly caught a breath between talking to attendees, candidates and their supporters, excitedly forging new connections for a new team in a new district.

“The nice thing about a lot of Shorewood residents is we tend to live beyond ourselves," Schmitz said. "Of course we like to take care of our own particular needs, but we also realize there’s things that need to be done for the common good, and ultimately when you do things for the common good it does benefit all of us.”

CowDung July 31, 2012 at 04:26 PM
You can't discount the quality of the WFB school system. Whitefish Bay schools seem to have a better program than we have when it comes to the STEM fields. I wish that Shorewood schools would at least try to move more towards that direction... Pasch's hesitation is likely motivated by the fact that if she loses in district 10, she still can keep her current position until her term in up. She might even be able to run in the new district that covers WFB at that time. I'm surprised that Pasch is allowed on the ballot before she has established residency in the district--that doesn't seem right.
dills July 31, 2012 at 04:44 PM
Ieshuh Griffin is telling the truth...in favor of school choice! If you were in the City of Milwaukee and did not have the financial means to move away from a terrible and unsafe school system, you would have a way out with school choice. On the other hand, Sandy Pasch gets voted out of her position, and has the means to solve her problem by moving. Can she really understand the inner city problems? Maybe she should tell us if she is or isn't 'The white man's _itch'
Vicki Bennett July 31, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Dung, that's my point. She needs to have an investiture in our community to represent us.
CowDung July 31, 2012 at 04:55 PM
I don't disagree with your observations about Pasch...
Naive One July 31, 2012 at 05:23 PM
There were a few problems with the meeting. Questions to the panel could only be submitted in writing. For those who did not bring a pen or pencil, we lost out. (We were supplied with cards though). Next, questions could not be directed to individual candidates. We were told this after the questions were submitted. (Those 'individual' questions were put in a separate stack). Finally, none of the candidates had an answer to the question of how she would address concerns of Shorewood residents, none of them. I didn't like being treated as if my concerns (Shorewood's concerns) were taking a back seat to the concerns of the inner city.
CowDung July 31, 2012 at 05:29 PM
How were the questions about 'Shorewood's concerns' phrased? Were specific concerns brought up, or was it just a general question about how they would address 'concerns of Shorewood residents'?
N. Peske July 31, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Choice and vouchers were discussed. Griffin was the only one for it although she acknowledged the lack of accountability is a problem, which I feel is an understatement given how much money is sucked out of public schools to pay for choice programs. Children with special education needs get stuck in the public schools that are required by law to provide services. For them, there's no choice...and "choice" programs for others means that someone sticking up a shingle and declaring himself the principal of a school can take much needed money out of the public schools. We are losing MILLIONS to schools who do NO BETTER than public schools in providing education and sometimes do worse. It is expensive to educate kids with IEPs so the choice schools cherry pick, sticking MPS with a special ed population of 20 percent and a fraction of the money they once had with which to educate all students. Do you see the problem? As for Pasch, she didn't get voted out of her position. She got drawn out of part of her district. She's been representing Shorewood for several years. Those of us who have attended regular village hall meetings, corresponded with her, and read her reports to the community could fill you in on all the many things she's done for the people of Wisconsin. Probably her biggest contribution has been sponsoring a mental health parity law before the Affordable Care Act was passed. Please do learn more about how she has worked for us all!
N. Peske July 31, 2012 at 05:48 PM
True, those were glitches. But it's always possible to speak up! No one asked any Shorewood-specific questions, as I recall. There were queries about school funding, banning biphesnol-A to prevent breast cancer, protecting women's reproductive rights, and how to find common ground with the other side of the aisle. Were there specific Shorewood concerns you had? I felt at times that we were being talked down to, as if none of us could possibly know someone living in the inner city or on public assistance or homeless. A reference to "parking" being a concern here showed Griffin to be extremely naive about what our concerns are at a state level. I suppose some of the ignorance about Shorewood concerns is to be expected when you suddenly partner us with a different district, but the two candidates from the inner city seemed eager to learn more about us. I was taken aback by the "career politician" references. If four years serving your district of 55,000 makes you a career politician, then people need to think more about what the value of experience is! I continue to be amused by people's references to carpetbagging from 18 blocks away when Shorewood is part of her old district. I well remember people accusing Hillary Clinton of carpetbagging when she ran for D'Amato's NY senate seat only to see her elected and turn into one of the most powerful, effective, well-liked senators in NY history, and she truly was new to the area.
N. Peske July 31, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Cowdung, the question about Shorewood was general and answered generally--basically, all felt that it was best to listen to Shorewood concerns but to think in terms of representing an entire district.
N. Peske July 31, 2012 at 06:04 PM
CowDung, why do you feel WFB is better for STEM field education? They have the same reform math we do--no escaping those dreadful curricula around here.
Keith Schmitz July 31, 2012 at 06:05 PM
1) Considering the brevity of our time last night, we wanted to avoid the problem of questioners "hogging the floor." The format afforded us the opportunity to run through a lot more questions. 2) The question about Shorewood's needs vs Milwaukee's is in Rory's story. 3) Sorry I didn't mention that if someone had a writing instrument they could share it with someone who didn't. We had no way of knowing how many people would show up, and figuring it was a work night most people would be toting pens. 4) Considering the tone of the evening that we achieved, which was a good civil exchange between all of the candidates, we did not regard questions aimed at individuals as appropriate. As a result, a lot was accomplished within a little bit of time. But thanks to you and everyone else who took the time to come last night from both Shorewood and Milwaukee.
CowDung July 31, 2012 at 06:10 PM
I don't have any specific concerns for the candidates to address, I was responding to the charge that none of the candidates had an answer to the question of how she would 'address concerns of Shorewood residents'. Considering that it was such a broad question, it doesn't surprise me that it wasn't answered in anything more than a generic way. Coby actually lives in Shorewood, so I would expect her to have the best idea of what concerns Shorewood residents and things she could do to address them. Considering that Pasch is looking to move in order to keep a seat rather than go back to her private life, she could have the appearance of being (or wanting to be) a 'career politician'. Changing residences is a pretty significant undertaking...
CowDung July 31, 2012 at 06:24 PM
I don't seem to recall ever hearing that Shorewood has a Project Lead the Way program or engineering type classes like the one featured on Patch a little while back? It seems that all Shorewood makes headlines for is the music or drama program... http://whitefishbay.patch.com/articles/high-school-students-aim-high-in-new-engineering-class
CowDung July 31, 2012 at 07:24 PM
Here's a sampling of the kind of engineering and design courses that are available to WBF HS students through Project Lead The Way... http://www.wfbschools.com/schools/high/EngineeringandDesign.cfm
N. Peske July 31, 2012 at 07:30 PM
CowDung, have you sent those links to Marty Lexmond? I do know we have a 3D graphic design project/program/class/something at the high school level but there is nada but Lego Robotics (can't figure out where the Legos factor in to that) for our middle schoolers. I'm totally with you on improving opportunities for kids with STEM interests and talents in this district. Do email me or friend me on FB if you want to exchange ideas.
N. Peske July 31, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Shorewood's issues are addressed at a Shorewood level--unless they're issues we share with the larger community. At least, that's how I see it. We all see cuts to school budgets and our broken school funding formula as a collective Wisconsin issue, but then there are Shorewood district budget issues. The question about "Shorewood's issues" felt a little odd to me.
L Griggs July 31, 2012 at 09:02 PM
I think I will be voting for Ms. Griffin after hearing her in person yesterday. Ms. Coby had very little impact on ,me Mrs.Pasch straddle the fence, and Ms.Callier was wishy washy.
CowDung July 31, 2012 at 09:39 PM
I haven't, but I really should forward the links to him. I'm not sure if there is any sort of formal mechanism for making suggestions for curriculum or courses of study. The graphic design courses they offer are not at all the same as engineering design (visual arts, not engineering). I have seen the Legos stuff at Shorewood. I think that a couple of kids even did LEGO robots for their science fair projects two years ago. While it is good for what it is, I think that the program is rather limited. While I applaud the opportunity for exposure, I think that Shorewood should be able to do a lot better with it. For example, the FIRST program (linked below) utilizes LEGO robotics as well. http://www.usfirst.org/ I am not on Facebook, but I would be open to exchanging e-mails on the subject. I am a technical oriented person myself, so I am rather passionate about improving the Shorewood schools STEM curriculum. Unfortunately, it seems that we have a strong 'pro-arts' contingent in the village that would see an expanded STEM program as a threat to their beloved arts program. I'd like to think that both programs can co-exist in Shorewood, much like they do in WFB.
CowDung July 31, 2012 at 09:41 PM
I like Griffin's stance on school choice/vouchers, but I don't know if I can bring myself to vote for a person that claims herself to be 'NOT the whiteman's bitch'...
Mandy July 31, 2012 at 09:58 PM
Allow her to redeem herself she tried to explain her intent on her statement 2 years ago, I personally think Griffin is the best candidate of the four. Last night I can say I walked away giving her my vote. She wants to serve everyone across color lines.
James R Hoffa July 31, 2012 at 11:47 PM
So if Pasch wins, she'll move into the district. But she's only considering Shorewood... why? Why doesn't Sandy offer to move into another part of the 10th Assembly District? Why just Shorewood? Is the rest of the District not good enough for Pasch? Maybe Pasch would have more credibility if she was offering to move into another part of the District. I'm just sayin!
James R Hoffa July 31, 2012 at 11:50 PM
Interesting how there's no males vying for the Democratic nomination. Lyle should toss his hat into this race!
Lyle Ruble July 31, 2012 at 11:51 PM
@JRH...LOMA
Lyle Ruble July 31, 2012 at 11:52 PM
@JRH....No thanks, I like my life the way it is. Besides, Madison gives me the chills.
Mandy August 01, 2012 at 12:01 AM
Hoffa I'm in agreement with you I don't think Pasch gives two kahunas about 10th district Shorewood included. I think Ieshuh Griffin could be of some value to the 10th she seems to care about people not color she even went against the stance of Elizabeth Coggs
Bob McBride August 01, 2012 at 12:14 AM
I wonder how constantly complaining about the redistricting of the 22nd is going to go over with the people of the 10th. It's kind of like repeatedly complaining about an ex to the person you're currently in (or attempting to develop) a relationship with.
Mike Walls August 01, 2012 at 01:06 AM
Sandy Pasch is in the 22nd district laughing at us all right now, we weren't even her first choice more like the last option
Emily Fabela August 01, 2012 at 05:46 AM
All Millie Coby does is give a sad life story about how her life was in the past - she sounds like a broken record!
Vincent Franklin August 01, 2012 at 09:45 AM
@Emily my wife & I were saying the same thing, btw Milllie Coby's trained by Lena 'don't you know who I am' Taylor, but Taylor couldn't hold her hand at the forum so she just repeated the safe words.
Frannie August 06, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Millie Coby isn't ready to represent the people. She can't even speak in a radio interview without her posse there to coach and direct her in what to say. I was just listening to the 1290 and Eric Von himself said she didn’t want to come on his show unless her backup was there. Seriously?!

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