New Milwaukee Common Council president; José Pérez elected

José Pérez was elected president of the Milwaukee Common Council on Tuesday, April 19, via a unanimous vote, making history as the first Latino to serve in the role.

Pérez is the alderman for the city's 12th District. According to his city biography, Pérez was elected to his first term on the Common Council in 2012. He and his wife, Rosaura, are proud parents of two young children.

Pérez will be serving out the remainder of Mayor Cavalier Johnson's term as Council president. It expires in April 2024.  In brief remarks Tuesday, he told colleagues he's focused on unity. He also had a message for Latinos in Milwaukee.

"Like me, Alderman Pérez was born and raised in Milwaukee's south side," said Alderwoman JoCasta Zamarripa. "He is the child of a family who emigrated from Puerto Rico."

He was nominated by Zamarripa. 

"He has proven time and time again that he has the tenacity as well as the longevity on the Council and the integrity to serve our Common Council and our city well," said Zamarripa.

Mayor Johnson previously held that role before becoming the acting mayor. Pérez has served as alderman of the 12th District located on Milwaukee's south side since 2012.

"I want my time as your president to be about hope about the future," said Pérez.

In a joint statement, members of the Common Council said Milwaukee’s Latino population is the fastest-growing demographic in the city and the state of Wisconsin, and they are delighted this community now has representation at one of the highest levels of local government.

Speaking to the Latino community, Pérez gave a portion of his remarks in Spanish.

"Hold me accountable, and keep me honest and please, please always be by my side," said Pérez. 

He also spoke of unity in the Common Council.

"Serving in this position is impossible without us being together," said Pérez. "We don’t always agree, but I promise you we will talk and we will agree to disagree sometimes."

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Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson

"I congratulate new Common Council President José Pérez on his election. I have great respect for his work as an Alderperson, and I look forward to collaborating with him to make all of Milwaukee safer and stronger."

Darryl Morin, National President of Forward Latino

"Today we congratulate Alderman José Pérez on his unanimous election to the position of Milwaukee Common Council President. This is the first time in city’s 176-year history that a Hispanic has been elected to the position. Milwaukee can now boast its first Black Mayor and first Hispanic Common Council President.

"President Pérez has proven his ability to look at complex problems and to not only develop solutions, but to develop consensus around these solutions so they can be implemented. He has been instrumental in a wide range of initiatives that range from public safety and community-oriented policing, to job training, to increasing investment in Milwaukee’s communities most in need and more. Equally important, he has always been willing to listen to every voice and taken the input into consideration on major decisions.

"Today Milwaukee’s Hispanic community can take pride in his accomplishment, but more importantly, Milwaukee can take great pride in having city wide leadership that truly represents the majority of our great city."

Joint statement of Milwaukee Common Council

"Today, we proudly voted for Alderman José Pérez to serve as the next President of the Milwaukee Common Council. We want to extend our congratulations to President Pérez on this historic day as he becomes the first Latino/Latinx person to ever serve in this position.  

"Milwaukee’s Latino population is the fastest growing demographic in the city, as well as across the state of Wisconsin, and we are delighted that today this community now has representation at one of the highest levels of local government. Throughout his time as an Alderman, President Pérez has shown the dedication, knowledge and leadership that will make him a great Council President, and we know he will dutifully serve not just the Latino community, but ALL of Milwaukee at a time when we have many challenges facing our city.

"The leadership within the City has seen much turnover in recent months, and we are hopeful that these new leaders will bring forward fresh ideas and creative solutions that will benefit our residents. President Pérez is taking the helm, just about a week after our city witnessed the inauguration of our first elected Black mayor, Cavalier Johnson!  

"We are excited about this new era in Milwaukee, and look forward to working together with this diverse leadership to make our city the best it can be."

Joint statement of Milwaukee County Board

"Congratulations to Alderman Pérez on being elected to lead the Milwaukee Common Council. We know the new Common Council President to be a dedicated public servant and mentor who actively reaches out to as many constituents as possible. He is someone who fights for his neighbors and is a leader on issues such lead mitigation and neighborhood improvement. We look forward to working with him and his colleagues on the many shared areas of interest between the Board of Supervisors and Common Council."

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