From going through elementary school at Happy Hill Elementary to hanging out with friends at the Northridge Mall, Rev. Dr. Russell Antonio Goodwin, Sr. has many fond memories of growing up in Milwaukee’s 9th district. Those memories of friends, family, and community interaction there are the fuel to the fire in Goodwin’s campaign for the alderman seat to be filled in District 9. While Goodwin feels compelled to run by conditions in his district, such as the closed-down Northridge Mall, he also has been inspired by the loss of his godmother, Dr. Sylvia Tiwari, that occurred in 2018 due to reckless driving.
“One of the things that drove me to run for county supervisor, and that’s really driving me to run for alderman, was when my godmother, Dr. Sylvia Tiwari, was killed by a reckless driver,” Goodwin recalled. “There were a bunch of teens in the car, and they said they were running from the police earlier. They were still trying to avoid the police later in the day, and they were driving recklessly. They blew through a stop sign and killed my godmother. I just promised from that day forward, that I’ll do everything that I can to champion her death. I won’t let it be in vain and I’m gonna do everything in my power to stop reckless driving. That’s one thing that I have been working on and that’s one thing I will work on as an alderman.”
In seeing the senseless loss of his godmother’s life, Goodwin started to ask the questions of how these issues can truly be addressed. Factors such as shifts in the dispersion and attention of police were considered, as well as factors that may be influencing reckless driving through popularizing the practice. Thinking about this issue as something that can affect anybody provided Goodwin with a focus in his role as a county supervisor where he was made the chairman of transportation.
“No matter how far away it can be, it could also be right close to home,” said Goodwin. “It may not be anyone directly in your family, but it could be someone that you know of because Milwaukee’s not the largest place. You’re sitting at the light and somebody blows through the light, or you’re just sitting there at a red light and they just take off. They don’t have any care in the world, and they just go. It’s just one of those things, where I’m not gonna say that it’s gonna be tackled overnight, but it’s gonna take time to tackle it.”
On the other side of the issue, prevention and awareness served as further means of addressing the issue of reckless driving. Goodwin was hesitant to ideas such as red light cameras that could cause more work to be done in the back end through legal battles. Even though experience has shown him that there is always a further problem to address, Goodwin is sure that looking at the infrastructure of the roads as well as intervening early on through public messaging are good places to start.
“I’d say back in the ’90s, we wanted to combat drugs and things of that nature, so we had the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) programs, and the Just Say No programs,” Goodwin explained. “All those programs were really pumped and pushed, and we had PR campaigns that were geared towards children. I think what it’s going to take is to create and develop PR campaigns in reference to reckless driving directed towards the kids, and have a separate PR campaign towards the adults. Really invest in this campaign on the front end of it to reach them just like we did in the ’90s. I think that’ll help, and I also think another thing that will help is pushing driver safety classes and things of that nature.”
Goodwin feels an edge he has is in his knowledge and experience working with transportation in Milwaukee as a county supervisor. By being both knowledgeable of transportation in Milwaukee and a resident of the 9th district, Goodwin is confident he has the tools for the job to combat an issue that he feels people want to be addressed.
“It’s just a problem that you have to be really aggressive about,” said Goodwin. “I feel that there are people that want to solve it, but they’re not aggressive enough. I think that’s what I could bring to the table as far as district nine aldermen. I bring that passion and that aggression, because I want to solve the problem of reckless driving. Number one, because my grandmother was killed, and number two, because it’s just the right thing to do. You have to be knowledgeable, and have an understanding of how to solve this problem.”
As a proud resident of the 9th district of Milwaukee, Goodwin expressed hurt at the lack of voice his community has been allowed recently. Issues such as rising taxes, crime, and lack of police support were all topics Goodwin identified as concerns he has heard from 9th district residents. With the community fed up with not being heard and changes not being made, the drive for a representative willing to listen and be dedicated is higher than ever.
Goodwin is hoping his passion and experience will be determining factors as he campaigns to realize his vision to steer his home district in a positive direction.
“My vision is to transform aldermanic district 9 into one of the most prosperous districts within the state of Wisconsin, where residents feel safe to purchase homes, start businesses, raise a family, and enjoy everyday life,” Goodwin said. “My mission is to move Milwaukee aldermanic district 9 and its fine residents forward from its past to a brighter future through strategic planning and partnerships, proactive solutions, community awareness, and engagement. I also believe that it’s time for District 9 to dream again, just like they did in 1972 when Northridge Mall was built to be a community asset for generations to come. Even though district 9 has seen better days, I believe that if we dream again, we can turn district nine around for the better.”
To learn more about Goodwin’s campaign, visit his website here. Primary elections for the alderman race are Tuesday, Feb. 24, and general elections are April 4.