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Immigration Attorney Challenges Incumbent For 9th Assembly District Seat

Political Newcomer Would Become Assembly's 3rd Latina Representative If Elected

Residents in line to vote at the Zeidler Municipal Building in downtown Milwaukee in 2008
AP Photo/Dinesh Ramde

A political newcomer is challenging 13-year-incumbent Josh Zepnick in Wisconsin’s 9th Assembly District. With no Republicans running for the seat, Marisabel Cabrera would become the Assembly’s third Latina representative if she wins next week.

Cabrera said she believes as Wisconsin becomes more diverse, so should the Legislature. But her main goal as an immigration lawyer and member of Milwaukee’s Fire and Police Commission is to be a more effective advocate for the city’s south side.

“I am more knowledgeable as far (as) what the people want, and I would take proactive steps to try to make those things happen,” she said.

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Cabrera said she believes Zepnick has been a reactionary representative for the Milwaukee district and slow to respond to problems in the community. She said district residents are also frustrated to see all of the economic development in the city’s downtown without seeing similar investment in their neighborhoods.

“Based on my own personal experience living in this district and just what I hear at the doors from voters, they don’t really feel that he’s done a lot,” Cabrera said.

Zepnick points to the money that he’s brought into the area for projects like redeveloping the Menomonee Valley, along Interstate 94 west of Milwaukee’s downtown.

“I also sat on a committee that steered millions of dollars into rebuilding South 27th Street as well as Historic Layton Boulevard, and I helped steer money in for revitalizing the Kinnickinnic River, which runs right through our district,” Zepnick said.

Cabrera and Zepnick agree district residents are concerned about high crime rates in Milwaukee and how to best and most affordably update the city’s water and sewer infrastructure. Zepnick said he’s long been fighting for issues that matter to his constituents and Democrats across the state.

“Protecting senior care, expanding Medicaid program so that more people qualify, expanding the earned income tax credit,” Zepnick said.

Zepnick has also worked to toughen the state’s drunken driving laws. He was arrested and found guilty for operating while intoxicated in October. He said he’s nine months sober and that voters understand politicians are only human and can lead by example by taking responsibility for their mistakes.