A Red-Green Electoral Alliance in Milwaukee

by Keith Mann

September 24, 2014

A step forward for united independent political action was taken recently when Angela Walker, independent socialist candidate for Milwaukee County Sheriff, and Ron Hardy, Green Party candidate for Wisconsin state treasurer, met with campaign supporters to discuss joint action for the upcoming November 4 elections. The two campaigns agreed to jointly distribute campaign literature. A joint press release is planned as is a public rally featuring both candidates.

Walker is a social justice activist, bus driver and former legislative director for the Amalgamated Transportation Union (ATU). If elected, she would be the city’s fifth socialist sheriff (Milwaukee had three socialist mayors in the twentieth century, the last leaving office in 1960) and the first African American woman to hold the office. Hardy is a librarian in the town of Oshkosh and a veteran Green activist.

Angela Walker (left) and Ron Hardy (right).

Although the connections between the offices may not be readily apparent, the social visions of the two candidates closely connect as does their vision of how the offices they seek can collaborate to further the goals of social justice. As Walker explains, poverty, unemployment, inadequate transportation, underfunded schools, and the racist school-to-prison pipeline result from capitalist social policies. Both Hardy as state treasurer and Walker as Sheriff would use their offices as a platform to advocate for increased spending for schools and public transportation.

Although successive Democratic and Republican parties elected officials have gutted the office of state treasurer of all real fiscal power, the office maintains considerable symbolic value. Both campaigns advocate a $15.00 minimum wage as a step toward a living wage. Unlike their opponents, the Walker and Hardy campaigns refuse corporate money and both call for the legalization of marijuana. Until legalization, Walker has declared that she would not waste resources on arresting people for possession. Such arrests, she explains, aggravate unemployment, particularly among African Americans, because conviction records are a major obstacle to employment.

As Sheriff, Walker would refuse to aid banks in forcing foreclosed homeowners out of their homes. Unlike her opponent, the reactionary incumbent David Clarke who runs as a Democrat with backing by the Koch brothers, Walker would invoke a 2012 local ordinance allowing the Sheriff’s office to refrain from enforcing ICE sweeps against immigrant workers.

Coming on the heels of socialist Kshama Sawant’s election to the Seattle city council earliest this year and socialist and independent campaigns in Chicago, California, New York, and most recently the likely candidacy of the anti-corporate Chicago Teacher’s Union president Karen Lewis for mayor against incumbent Mayor Rahm Emanuel, “Mayor 1%”, these efforts toward coordinated independent left electoral campaigns in Wisconsin can serve as a positive step forward for independent working class politics.

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Keith Mann is a member of Solidarity in Milwaukee and an activist in Angela Walker’s campaign.