MILWAUKEE — When voters in Wisconsin’s 17th Assembly District — which includes some of the west side’s walk-to-shul community — make their selections on Nov. 3, they will choose between two candidates eager to address challenges.
With the district’s former representative David Crowley now serving as the Milwaukee County’s first black county executive, the district has been without a state representative since April. Vying for a chance to fill that seat are Republican Abie Eisenbach, a lifetime resident of Sherman Park’s Orthodox Jewish community, and Democrat and Milwaukee County Supervisor Supreme Omokunde Moore, who is the son of longtime Congresswoman Gwen Moore.
The Chronicle reached out to the two candidates to ask them their reasons for running for Assembly and what they feel makes them well-equipped to serve as the representative in for the 17th District.
Here are their responses:
- Why are you running for the Legislature?
Eisenbach: Living in Milwaukee my whole life and now raising my children while also helping my parents, I have a deep love for this great city. I am running because Milwaukee needs change. We need to address the root causes of the problems facing our community, and not just the symptoms.
Omokunde: People deserve good representation. The 17th Assembly District means a lot to me personally. I organized here, lived here, and have family here. Many of the things that I’ve worked on over the past five years as a four-term Milwaukee County Supervisor have a state answer. Decisions around things like expanding healthcare, housing equity, ensuring climate justice and getting our fair share of shared revenue are all made in Madison.
- What in your background, either personal or professional, makes you well-suited and prepared to represent the people of District 17 in the state house?
Omokunde: The next representative of the 17th District needs to be a seasoned legislator. We are in very serious times which requires a certain kind of experience. I am a son of Milwaukee. I was born and raised here. I have intimate knowledge of the challenges the residents of the district face having lived and worked with people in this area for more than 10 years. I am the current chair of the County Board’s committee on Health and Human Needs as well as the Finance Committee which writes the county’s budget. (The state’s biennial budget season will begin shortly after the 2021-2023 session begins.) I have a proven record of being present for my constituents and committed to raising and fighting for the issues that are most important to them.
Eisenbach: As an Orthodox Jew I went to Yeshiva (Jewish high school and post-high-school) where I learned and continue to learn Torah, which helps you grasp and deduce problems. I have been a local community activist for many years and have decided that I need to do more for my community. That being said, I am running for Assembly to do more for all of Milwaukee.
- What are some of the challenges affecting the district, and what would you do to address those, if elected? What statewide issues do you hope to tackle, if elected?
Eisenbach: Crime and economic inequality are the primary issues I want to tackle. I want to bring more targeted afterschool programs to the area that will help children succeed and grow. We need trade schools and apprenticeship opportunities to help those who don’t want a four-year degree, but still want post–high school training or education. Most importantly we need to bring mental health awareness back to the forefront and get people the help they need. I hope to get more funding for our Milwaukee schools and bring more jobs and opportunities back home.
Omokunde: Public health is one the first issues I would tackle. We are in the midst of a global pandemic —170,000 people have died nationwide from COVID-19, and 1,000 of those folks were right here in Wisconsin. The North Side of Milwaukee has pockets of some of the most infected individuals in the city who are often more susceptible because of other exacerbating health challenges. I also want to focus on lack of economic opportunity. We need to get back/keep more of the dollars we send to the state capitol to assist in creating opportunities for more than just a handful of people. We also need to reimagine what public safety looks like in our city, our relationship with law enforcement and assisting in creating a sense of security for all the residents of the 17th district.
Name: Abie Eisenbach
Occupation: Salesman of kosher food
Elected experience: None
Family info: Married with six children
Name: Supreme Moore Omokunde
Occupation: Milwaukee County supervisor/ Healthcare organizer
Elected experience: First elected to 10th County Supervisor District in 2015, re-elected in 2016 and 2018
Family info: Son, nephew, brother, cousin, uncle, and granduncle