Milwaukee - Government and Politics

Government and Politics

Milwaukee has a mayor-council form of government. With the election of Mayor Jon O. Norquist in 1988, the city adopted a cabinet form of government with the mayor appointing those department heads not otherwise elected or appointed -- notably the Fire and Police Chiefs. While this gave the mayor greater control of the day-to-day operations of the city, the Common Council retains almost complete control over the city's finances and the mayor, with the exception of his proposed annual budget, cannot directly introduce legislation. The Common Council consists of elected members, each representing one of 15 districts in the city. Milwaukee has a history of giving long tenures to its mayors; from Frank Zeidler to Tom Barrett, the city has had only four mayors in the last 60 years. When 28-year incumbent Henry Maier retired in 1988, he held the record for longest term of service for a city of Milwaukee's size.

Milwaukee has been a Democratic stronghold for more than a century, with Democrats dominating every level of government, except for its Socialist mayors and (for briefer periods) other city and county offices. The city is split among three state Senate districts, each of which is composed of three Assembly districts. All 12 of the officials representing the city in the State Legislature are Democrats. In 2008, Barack Obama won Milwaukee with 77% of the vote.

Milwaukee makes up the overwhelming majority of Wisconsin's 4th congressional district. The district is heavily Democratic. The Democratic primary for the seat is considered more important than the general election. The district is currently represented by Democrat Gwen Moore.

Milwaukee residents elect representatives to the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors. The current County executive is Chris Abele.

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