Candidates for the Milwaukee-based 6th SD offered differing opinions on funding plans to replace lead pipe laterals in Milwaukee. 

Incumbent Sen. LaTonya Johnson feels the state is completely responsible for replacing lead pipe laterals flowing water to about 70,000 Milwaukee homes. Johnson told the low median home value in the parts of the district serve as an example of why the state needs to bear the brunt of the financial impact.

“You’re not going to find a lot of landlords that are going to be willing to pay the money necessary to remediate those lead pipes that are inside those homes,” said Johnson, who is wrapping up her first term in the state Senate after serving two terms in the Assembly. 

Michelle Bryant, a longtime Capitol aide who serves as fellow Milwaukee state Sen. Lena Taylor’s chief of staff, called for “outside of the box” thinking. She told the cost should be shared between municipalities, homeowners and the state, using the Miller Park municipal tax as an example of a way to creatively fund large projects. 

Bryant said she didn’t decide to challenge incumbent Johnson until late in the race. But she felt called to jump in because she said Johnson did not do a good job warning her neighborhood about the dangers of being a COVID-19 hotspot.

Still, both candidates agree lead laterals feeding contaminated water throughout the district has been a major health issue for decades. 

When it comes to the Gov. Tony Evers’ proposals on changes to policing in Wisconsin, Johnson said she wholeheartedly backed the changes and noted she had introduced similar legislation with state Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison.

Bryant said she also backed the guv’s proposals but added the changes simply don’t go deep enough to solve police brutality against Black people. Despite a ban on chokehold training by the Milwaukee Police, Bryant said the same technique used by police during the death of George Floyd is still in use in her city. 

“The Milwaukee Police Department has not used a chokehold in terms of training in years, but the practice is still alive,” Bryant said.

Despite those differences, the two agreed on redirecting portions of police budgets to community programming, rejected a GOP-backed tough on crime package, and backed the guv’s proposals to stem gun violence and expand Medicaid.

Hear the interviews.




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