Aldermen Question Hiring of Water Superintendent

Milwaukee – Five Milwaukee aldermen signed a letter sent to Mayor Barrett questioning the appointment of the city’s chief lobbyist to head Milwaukee Water Works.

Jennifer Gonda has been appointment to lead the Milwaukee Water Works after the utility’s longtime leader, Carrie Lewis resigned to take on another job in Portland, Maine.

Gonda has been serving as the director of the city’s Intergovernmental Relations Division.

Gonda joined Mayor Tom Barrett’s cabinet in July 2012.

The five aldermen wrote the letter to Barrett raising questioning her qualifications are aldermen  Bob Donovan, Mark Borkowski, Bob Bauman, Terry Witkowski and Michael Murphy.

“To be clear, Ms. Gonda has ably led the city’s Intergovernmental Relations Division for the past several years and has done so in challenging times. We are grateful for this leadership and her counsel,” they wrote. “To presume, however, that serving in this capacity marks her as able to act as the steward of the city’s precious water resources risks grave overreach.”

“Whatever the final size and nature of this problem, helping us resolve it will require someone with expertise in matters of water quality as well as a record of accomplishment sufficient to assure worried residents that this problem is being investigated and addressed,” they wrote.

In an email sent to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Gonda shared that “”her home has a lead service line and, as the mother of a young child, she follows the city’s Lead-Safe Milwaukee recommendations.”

Ald. Jim Bohl chairman of the Water Quality Task Force praised Gonda’s expertise and called the decision a “very strong appointment.”

“She is somebody who is very much in the know, who has worked throughout the community,” Bohl said. “I think that her understanding of numbers, having worked for four years in the budget office, is really second to none.”

Robert Miranda, spokesperson for the Freshwater For Life Action Coalition, the group that brought water concerns to the community spot light stated, “FLAC is not at all surprised by this decision by Barrett to replace a city hall insider bureaucrat to head the Water Works department. You have to expect this from City Hall, as Dr. Marc Edward’s reminded us a few months ago during his talk about Milwaukee water at Marquette University, “Milwaukee historically has been a world leader in covering up lead water problems.”

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