The Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors elected Supervisor Marcelia Nicholson to lead the body as Chairwoman for the 2020-2022 term on a vote of 11 to 7 over Supervisor Willie Johnson Jr. on April 24.
Supervisor Nicholson’s father is African-American and her mother is Puerto Rican, and with the election she becomes the first Afro-Latina to become Chairperson of the Board of Supervisors. It also follows a trend of sweeping political victories for African American representation in Milwaukee, after David Crowley won his race as Milwaukee County Executive and Alderman Cavalier “Chevy” Johnson became Milwaukee Common Council President.
Supervisor Nicholson expressed appreciation to her colleagues for their support and shared her optimism about the future.
“I thank my colleagues for their support, and I pledge to make the 2020-22 term one that is marked by a renewed spirit of collaboration. We have many challenges ahead, but I know that each Supervisor is ready to get to work, and to work together. I pledge to do my best to empower this body to develop solutions to our most challenging problems and to serve the people of Milwaukee County with honor and integrity,” said Nicholson.
The 18-member Board of Supervisors, five of whom are serving their first term of office, also elected Supervisor Sequanna Taylor as First Vice Chairperson, Supervisor Steve Shea as Second Vice Chairperson.
“I supported Supervisor Nicholson for Chairwoman because I have seen and know her ability to lead. The legislation she has passed to date demonstrates her track record of getting things done in ways that positively impact the county. I’m excited to move forward with her at the helm the Board of Supervisors,” said Supervisor Sequanna Taylor.
Prior to becoming Chairwoman, Supervisor Nicholson’s tenure included successfully passing a $15 County living wage ordinance, adopting a racial equity ordinance, and bringing together Milwaukee County, the City of Milwaukee, and Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) to collaborate on service delivery and improving efficiencies across the three-largest local public institutions.
“It’s been an honor to work alongside many colleagues at the Milwaukee County Board. Although the County remains challenged by the need for a better solution to fund local government, the administration and the Board are in a good place. I extend congratulations to Supervisor Nicholson and her colleagues for their trust in her leadership to lead the Board to a stronger, more unified place that reflects the diversity of the residents in Milwaukee County,” said County Executive Chris Abele.
On April 7, Nicholson was elected to a third term as the County Board Supervisor representing the 5th District, which includes neighborhoods to the north, east and south of Washington Park, the Merrill Park area, portions of the Marquette University campus, and the east side of downtown Milwaukee, from Juneau Avenue to the Third Ward.
“Milwaukee County faces unique challenges and that may require drastic changes. Now more than ever we need a Board chair who can be that change agent. I value Chairwoman Nicholson’s open minded approach and willingness to listen to the advice and guidance of our predecessors,” said Supervisor Sylvia Ortiz-Velez.
Nicholson is a former MPS educator and works for the Milwaukee Area Service and Hospitality Workers union. She is 31 years old and earned her bachelor’s degree from UWM. She was born and raised in the 53206 ZIP code and is a proud graduate of MPS schools, including Ben Franklin, Morse Middle School, and the Milwaukee School of Languages.
“I was honored to cast the first vote for Chairwoman Nicholson today. Her background as an educator and her track record as a proven progressive make her well-equipped to lead the Board of Supervisors. I look forward to her leading the way in bold, forward-thinking efforts to make our community stronger,” said Supervisor Ryan Clancy.
Jeff Cannady and Lee Matz