April 30. 2012 9:00AM

Style points will count for Dimitrijevic


By Steve Jagler

A collective sigh of relief came out of the Milwaukee County Courthouse when Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic was appointed by her peers to be the new county board chair, succeeding the often confrontational and controversial Lee Holloway.

To tell it like it is, many folks in the courthouse will not miss the drama that came with Holloway's chairmanship.

Dimitrijevic was elected 4th District supervisor in 2004 and was re-elected to the board in 2008 and 2012. She has the distinction of being the youngest woman ever to be elected to the Milwaukee County Board, at the age of 22.

Since being elected to office, Dimitrijevic's legislative agenda has been focused on supporting the needs of working families, adopting higher energy and environmental standards in Milwaukee County and passing a socially and fiscally responsible budget each year.

Dimitrijevic, the daughter of Serbian immigrants, is a life-long resident of Milwaukee's south side. She resides in the Bay View neighborhood.

"I'm pleased that my colleagues have entrusted me to serve as board chairwoman. I especially want to thank the other four candidates who ran for chairperson. Working closely with them is critical as we work from a team approach to move Milwaukee County forward," Dimitrijevic said. "I look forward to leading the way on important decisions facing the county over the next four years."

Harold Mester, the public information officer for the county board who was appointed by Holloway, said he is looking forward to working with a new chair.

Likewise, Brendan Conway, communications director for Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, said his boss is optimistic about working with Dimitrijevic.

In a statement, Abele said, "Congratulations to Marina Dimitrijevic on being elected as the new chair of the Milwaukee County Board. Your leadership will help guide the board in the coming years. I look forward to working with you and the rest of the board as we work together to improve Milwaukee County."

Dimitrijevic is widely regarded as a member of the liberal wing of the county board, although many insiders say she is a more moderate choice than Supervisor John Weishan Jr. (16th District).

Still, Dimitrijevic immediately becomes a target for the conservative talk radio cabal in town.

On the other side, Mike Tate, chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, used the ascension of Dimitrijevic to cast another insult at Gov. Scott Walker. "Scott Walker left Milwaukee County in shambles, including $400 million in pension obligations, raised property tax levies, costly deferred maintenance and a culture of corruption that Wisconsin is just now learning about."

Meanwhile, Abele is regarded as a pragmatic centrist by many supervisors, some of whom did not appreciate some of the steps he took to balance the most recent county budget.

Many county insiders agree that one of the key issues facing the newly reconfigured board is the future of Milwaukee County Transit System with ever-tightened state resources.

Other prominent issues facing the county include employee benefit costs and the future of the Milwaukee County Downtown Transit Center at 909 E. Michigan St.

In addition to voting Dimitrijevic as chair, the board also appointed Supervisor Peggy Romo West (12th District) as first vice-chair and Supervisor Steve Taylor (9th District) as second vice-chair.

In addition to Taylor, other new elected supervisors on the board are: Russell Stamper II, 5th District; David Bowen, 10th District; David Cullen, 15th District; and Deanna Alexander, 18th District.