I have had the pleasure and privilege of knowing Dimitrijevic for almost ten years, since she was first elected as the Milwaukee County Supervisor for the Bay View area and in her current role as Chairwoman of the Milwaukee County Board.
I had the opportunity to interview Dimitrijevic earlier today to discuss her campaign and the race in general.
The first question I asked is why she chose to jump into the race.
Dimitrijevic said that the state is "absolutely out of control" and that she is angry with the constant attacks on workers, women, the LGBT community and on local control. She said that she wants to take her experience to Madison and turn things around. She added that the state legislature has been so destructive that she can't take it anymore and feels the need to take a more direction in reversing this.
I pointed out that this race was a progressive's dream in that some very qualified and progressive candidates in the race. I also pointed out that she has a distinct advantage over her opponents due to her name recognition and that she has had three very successful campaigns
Dimitrijevic said that she has a lot of respect for her opponents and is looking forward to a positive, competitive race. She also said that she is not taking anything for granted, pointing out that her last opponent for her seat on the county board outspent her 4:1.
Dimitrijevic also said that she feels that she is the best candidate due to her experience and proven record. She said that she understands what is important to her constituents and has delivered on those issues. She feels that she is a "proven champion" of the people and would be "ready on day one" to start working on these issues.
Dimitrijevic proudly pointed out that she was the author of the domestic partner benefits resolution and worked with County Executive Chris Abele to get it passed. She also pointed to her work on authoring green legislation which has not only increased the county's environmental sustainability, but also saved county taxpayers millions of dollars. She also said that she has spent the last decade standing up for workers against two executives who have been very hostile towards the county employees.
Dimitrijevic summed it up by saying that it's one thing to just say that one is in support of something, but she also delivers on it.
Dimitrijevic said that it was her proven record of delivering on her promises that has earned her many prominent endorsements, including those of Congresswoman Gwen Moore and Mayor Tom Barrett. Dimitrijevic also proudly pointed out that she has the endorsement of many unions, including SEIU, American Federation of Teachers Local 212, the nurses' union, the firefighters and the deputy sheriff's union.
As an exclusive to Cog Dis, Dimitrijevic also confirmed that she has received the endorsement from AFSCME.
She also wanted to note that for five consecutive years, readers of the Shepherd Express has voted her to be the best county supervisor. She emphasized again that this was due to her ability to follow through and deliver on what she says.
Dimitrijevic said that her top issues include:
- Environmental sustainability
- Equal rights
- Marriage equality, saying she wanted to get the state caught up with a growing number of other states and legalize marriage for all people.
- Workers' rights
- Job creation - specifically good, family supporting jobs
Dimitrijevic said that education is one of her most passionate issues. To explain why, she went on to share a very personal story which she said that I could share with the gentle reader.
She said that her parents immigrated to the United States from Serbia and settled in the South Side of Milwaukee, where she has lived her entire life. She said that it was the Milwaukee public schools that she attended that taught her to be fluent in Spanish and exposed her to music and to the arts. She also said that when her family hit financial hard times, it was the schools that made sure she was fed.
She said that she found that Scott Walker's cutting hundreds of millions of dollars from public education and siphoning even more to privatized schools to be unacceptable. She said that not only does she want to reverse this and restore funding for public schools, but wants to start universal pre-kindergarten classes throughout the state which would be funded by the state.
She pointed out that many other states are already doing this, as are many European countries. She points out that numerous studies have shown that a child learns things the best while they are very young. She feels we need to catch up with the curve to give our children a fair chance of succeeding later in their lives.
I would point out that Dimitrijevic has had seven years of experience of dealing with Scott Walker while she has been on the County Board. Just like State Senator Chris Larson, who was also a county supervisor, she knows how Walker thinks and has proven herself to be an effective in dealing with his attacks.
Dimitrijevic has been married for 5 years and has 3 stepchildren. Dimitrijevic proudly noted that her husband, Eduardo, is very supportive of her campaign and is the hardest worker on the campaign, bringing his experience and enthusiasm from working in politics in his home country of Uruguay.
I have not decided who I will endorse - or if I will even endorse anyone - in this race. That said, I can say with confidence that were Dimitrijevic were to win this race, I am confident that she would very ably represent the people of AD 19 and would not disappoint them in the job she would do.