Hey! Milwaukee! Put down that Facebook post where you’re either screaming into an echo-chamber void or arguing with some asshole stranger who will never change his or her mind and listen up: You totally get to vote today! Again! Fun!

Yes, today, April 4, will find 13% to 18% of eligible Wisconsin voters making important decisions that will affect 100% of Wisconsinites. Of interest is the State Superintendent race between public school advocate (and incumbent) Tony Evers and school choice proponent Lowell Holtz. Voters in the City of Milwaukee will elect a municipal judge, while voters in Milwaukee County will elect a circuit court judge and weigh in on this non-binding referendum: “Do you support County Executive Chris Abele’s proposal for a $60 Vehicle Registration Fee (wheel tax) to provide designated funding for transit and transportation-related projects?” (As noted by Urban Milwaukee, the 2017 Milwaukee County budget already instated a $30 Vehicle Registration Fee.) Voters in various districts will also fill various seats on the Milwaukee Board of School Directors.

Why is it important to vote? Because change starts at home, because putting the right people in the right positions helps avoid future problems, and because it’s social media law that you cannot piss and moan about politics if you don’t vote. Find your polling place and see a sample ballot here. See what the Shepherd Express thinks here. Get to know the candidates below.

STATE SUPERINTENDENT

Tony Evers

I grew up in small town Plymouth, WI. I worked at a canning factory in high school, put myself through college, and married my kindergarten sweetheart, Kathy—also a teacher.

I’ve been an educator all across Wisconsin, and no matter where I worked, I put kids first. Always. I became a principal in Tomah, was an administrator in Oakfield and Verona, before being elected as your State Superintendent.

I have always tried to find common ground, while holding firm to the values we share.

I am running for re-election as State Superintendent of Public Instruction, because I believe that Wisconsin children deserve a world class education system. A system that is fair and balanced to every child from Antigo to Superior, and Viroqua to Milwaukee. I will continue to stand up for our children, and do what is right for the future of our State no matter their financial circumstance. I will vigorously defend our public schools, so we never pit the haves against the have nots.

Every child in Wisconsin should be a graduate, college and career ready, but I know it requires more to get kids across the finish line. We need teachers who are both inspired and empowered to teach every kid. We need to offer mental health services in our schools and find a way to close achievement gaps. Education is the driving engine of our economy. Education gives kids a ladder of opportunity, and every child, not just some, deserve the resources Wisconsin should invest in them.

Lowell Holtz

I am a Wisconsinite, born and raised, and have been married to my high school sweetheart, Sue, since 1980. We have five children who attended both parochial and public schools. Like many of you, we were “choosy” in that regard, always trying to find what’s best for each child. In 2004, Sue and I both earned our Educational Doctorate Degrees in Leadership, Learning and Service, from Milwaukee’s Cardinal Stritch University. Previously, while working on my Masters in Education from UW-Madison, I served as a police officer in Whitewater during my spare time.

My education experience exceeds 30 years and includes teaching at a small parochial school in Minnesota, serving as an elementary and middle school principal in Cambridge, and being honored as a Wisconsin Principal of the Year and National Distinguished Principal in Peshtigo. I have also served as a superintendent or district administrator in the Palmyra-Eagle, Beloit and Whitnall school districts, covering a wide and diverse spectrum of rural, urban and suburban communities.

While serving those schools and districts, I have:

• Raised test scores in all districts and schools served by collaborating with teachers, administrators and parents

• Collaborated with business, industry and community to
– Create a regional, multi-district career and technical education academy
– Launch annual business/education summits
– Create charter schools

• Partnered with a team of parents and community members to build one of the state’s finest high school athletic complexes without raising taxes

• Led successful urban school reform effort, drastically reduced violence, returned control of classroom to teachers, closed achievement gaps and increased graduation rates

• Consistently raised teacher satisfaction, pre- and post-Act 10

• Put systems and teams in place to consistently close gaps by raising academic achievement of all students

MUNICIPAL JUDGE BRANCH 1

William Crowley

Since graduating from Marquette Law School, William Crowley has demonstrated a commitment to serving marginalized populations in the community. He began working as an attorney with Hudson Legal in 2011, working on a foreclosure review project for JP Morgan Chase Bank. In this job, he worked to ensure compliance with federal and state laws, and identify cases where a non-compliance issue existed, so a settlement could be reached with the owners.

In 2014, William joined the staff at Disability Rights Wisconsin, working as a Family Care and IRIS ombudsman, working with people with disabilities on Wisconsin’s long-term care programs. In this capacity, he has been an advocate for people facing denials or cuts to their essential long-term care related services, conducting investigations, negotiating, and assisting with appeals to the State. Also in this role, he serves on a number of committees, including working with local government and county transit officials on public transportation program implementation for people with disabilities.

Furthermore, since 2012 William has served on the Board of the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, most recently as its Affirmative Action Officer, working to cultivate a broad, representative membership on the Board.

William has spent many years as an advocate for people with disabilities. When he was just two years old, he was critically injured in a car accident caused by a drunk driver, killing his stepfather and mother, who was 8 months pregnant at the time. The crash left him paralyzed from the chest down, but did not injure his resolve to carry on with life and strive for success. William will use this determination and ability to persevere to bring about a more just and equitable Milwaukee Municipal Court.

You can often find William venturing to new establishments around town and attending many of our festivals and local events. He is also an avid competitor in one of Milwaukee’s local trivia leagues.

William hopes that you will join him in standing up for justice!

Valarie Hill

Judge Valarie A. Hill was elected to to the bench in the City of Milwaukee in April 2004. Prior to her election, she served as a Milwaukee County Judicial Court Commissioner, where she presided over thousands of misdemeanor, felony, traffic and small claims cases. Previously, Judge Hill served as a Deputy First Assistant, Senior Assistant and Assistant State Public Defender in the Milwaukee Trial Office where she was a member of the management team and handled thousands of criminal and administrative matters for indigent defendants. Judge Hill graduated from The Ohio State University and the University of Akron School of Law where she received the Black Law Student Association Highest GPA Award. She is a member and/or volunteer for Christ The King Baptist Church, Milwaukee Public Schools, Northcentral Maltese Rescue, American Red Cross, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, Girl Scouts, Milwaukee Urban League Guild, NAACP, UNCF, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., and The Links, Incorporated. Professionally she is a member of the Wisconsin and National Bar Associations; National Association of Women Judges and the Wisconsin Association of African-American Lawyers (Past President).

CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE BRANCH 47

Scott Wales

My grandpa gave me my first job at his famous shoe store, Hecker’s Shoes, as a stock boy. Teaching me to be tough and fight hard, he promised me America was a country where no dream was impossible if you give an honest effort and earn it the right way. I never forgot that lesson.

As a boy I was obsessed with the Milwaukee Bucks. I was born in north Milwaukee County, a scrappy Jewish kid with his face half-frozen. Moebius Syndrome made it hard to learn how to speak, and paralysis froze my mouth and finer eye movement – my grandpa’s promise seemed like a fairy tale a million miles from my reality. I know the sting and real hurt of bullying and prejudice. This campaign is the first time I have had the opportunity to advocate and to discuss it publicly. With the help of public school teachers and years of dutiful practice, I became confident with spoken English. Thanks, interestingly, to a ventriloquist puppet and a kind speech pathologist. Attending University of Wisconsin – Madison for my undergraduate degree was a vital first step in earning and achieving my life’s goals. My grandpa’s words inspired me to become a decent basketball player in my youth, and later to pursue the law and build a family.

I am truly overwhelmed, honored, and humbled by our endorsements for this campaign.

Since starting my legal career almost 30 years ago, I have dedicated my life to public service and giving back to Wisconsin. Since 1992, I have been a public educator and Adjunct at MATC Downtown Milwaukee, and I have served our community as Fox Point’s Municipal Judge for over 8 years. Being uniquely blessed, I am a successful downtown Milwaukee lawyer and I have a daughter at Nicolet High School where I proudly graduated from, and another soon on her way there in a few years. I am serious and committed to the law, fatherhood, and my faith. If I win Branch 47, everyone can expect a fair, impartial trial free of bias …even if you are a Chicago Bulls fan.

Kashoua “Kristy” Yang

Attorney Yang believes that a fair justice system is one where those administering justice can distinguish between the unfortunate and the malicious.

Attorney Yang immigrated to the United States with her parents and siblings at the age of six. She credits her success to the generosity of her parents who taught her the value of hard work, in addition to the guidance and support of her 10 siblings. As a former refugee child, she benefited from the kindness of many people who helped her adjust to life in American society. This helped her expand her English vocabulary to more than just the word pepsi, and achieve her dream of becoming a lawyer and making a difference.

She is the owner of Kashoua Yang, LLC, a law firm that concentrates on family law, family mediation, worker’s compensation, and social security disability. She has successfully litigated and settled many cases, both in circuit court and administrative proceedings. Attorney Yang is also a court appointed Guardian ad Litem (GAL) in family law cases involving custody and placement disputes. She has garnered numerous accolades for her work, including Super Lawyers Rising Star for years 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016; Association of Women Lawyers Pro Bono Award in 2016, Milwaukee Magazine Leading Lawyers in 2015, and Milwaukee Bar Association Messenger volunteer recognition in 2012.

Attorney Yang devotes her time to various pro bono activities. She is a board member and volunteer attorney with the Legal Options for Trafficked and Underserved Survivors (LOTUS), past volunteer attorney with Marquette Volunteer Legal Clinic (MVLC), and legal clinics for Hmong speakers and at Voces de la Frontera. She has also helped in the Know Your Rights workshops and the Hmong American Peace Academy mentor program.

She is a board member of the State Bar of Wisconsin Lawyer Referral and Information Service Committee, president-elect of the Society of Family Lawyers, and an advisory committee member of the Hmong Milwaukee Civic Engagement Project. Attorney Yang belongs to the Leander J. Foley Jr. Matrimonial American Inn of Court, Milwaukee Bar Association, Wisconsin Asian Bar Association, Wisconsin Association of Worker’s Compensation Attorneys, Association of Women Lawyers, and the National Organization of Social Security Claimant’s Representatives.

Attorney Yang graduated from Lakeland College summa cum laude. After working several years for Kohler Company in Kohler, Wisconsin, she attended and obtained her law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School.

She and her husband live with their three daughters in Oak Creek. She loves goofing around with her daughters and in her spare time enjoys the challenges of CrossFit training.

MILWAUKEE BOARD OF SCHOOL DIRECTORS DISTRICT 4

Aisha Carr

Annie Woodward

MILWAUKEE BOARD OF SCHOOL DIRECTORS DISTRICT 5

Larry Miller

Kahri Phelps-Okoro

MILWAUKEE BOARD OF SCHOOL DIRECTORS DISTRICT 6

Tony Baez

Jonatan Zuniga

MILWAUKEE BOARD OF SCHOOL DIRECTORS DISTRICT 7

Joey Balistreri

Paula Phillips