Tony Zielinski is a real go-getter for Milwaukee’s 14th District.
Perhaps the most striking feature of the alderman’s website is the lengthy list of endorsements from businesses in his district. It’s one measure of the success he’s had at guiding development in the district, which includes the thriving neighborhood of Bay View. He actively recruits businesses he believes to be a good fit with the ward and uses all the resources at his disposal to facilitate getting them open and positioned for success.
If Zielinski seems to live and breathe his job, it’s probably because he’s been representing the area for so long. He was elected to the Common Council in 2004 and has served three terms in that capacity.
Now he’s seeking a fourth, and we endorse his reelection.
Much of an alderman’s job hinges on the little things — making sure the leaves and snow are removed, the garbage is picked up, the sewage is running properly and burnt-out bulbs on street lamps are replaced. Zielinski scores great marks from constituents for fulfilling those functions, but he takes his work many steps further. He’s a virtual ambassador for his area, constantly on the watch for new opportunities to benefit the 14th District. Those include everything from aiding new development, such as the restoration of the Avalon Theater last year, to ways of improving his residents quality of life, such as creating a new dog park and obtaining winter parking rights on both sides of his district’s two-way streets.
He created the city’s only public-art bus shelter at the intersection of Kinnickinnic and Lincoln Avenue. He’s integrated solar-powered lights into the area.
“If someone had told you 10 years ago that Kinnickinnic would be what it is today, they would have looked at you like your crazy,” Zielinski told WiG. “I know what kind of businesses my constituents want to see. I try to be pro-active in (developing those kinds of businesses).”
Zielinski has been criticized in the past for shutting down outdoor restaurant patios that bothered local residents. But he’s proud that he’s kept businesses from intruding into residential areas while maintaining walkable neighborhoods.
“People want to go home at the end of the day and that’s their castle,” he said. “Our business strips are thriving, but the side streets are nice and quiet.”
Zielinski said during his next term he wants “to just keep building on the template that we’ve been establishing for the last 10 years.”
One of the directions in which he’s moving is attracting “good-paying” light manufacturing jobs to the area.
He’s working to help his district get a company that wants to take waste wood from the city and turn it into usable products, as well as a manufacturer of LED lighting. He’s also working on a four-season skateboard park.
Beginning in the spring, Bay View will take part in the city’s first-ever curbside compost program, a project that he spearheaded. That’s one of many ideas he’s helped to promote on a citywide level.
The most important thing to know is that Zielinski is always working on something to enhance his district as well as Milwaukee. He’s a great alderman, a strong progressive with a stellar record on such issues as equality, worker’s rights and social justice.
Former Milwaukee school board member Meagan Holman, who did not seek WiG’s endorsement, is challenging Zielinski, so he needs your vote on April 5.
He’s certainly earned it.