John Norquist

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
John Norquist
John Norquist 2008.jpg
Norquist in 2008
37th Mayor of Milwaukee
In office
April 15, 1988 – December 31, 2003
Preceded by Henry W. Maier
Succeeded by Marvin Pratt
Member of the Wisconsin State Assembly
from the 8th district
In office
1975–1983
Succeeded by Thomas Crawford
Member of the Wisconsin Senate
from the 3rd district
In office
1983–1988
Preceded by Jerry Kleczka
Succeeded by Brian Burke
Personal details
Born (1949-10-22) October 22, 1949 (age 64)
Princeton, New Jersey
Political party Democratic

John Olof Norquist (born October 22, 1949, in Princeton, New Jersey) is an American politician and 37th mayor of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He served as mayor from 1988 until he left office in 2004[1] to lead the Congress for the New Urbanism.

Personal background[edit]

Norquist was born in Princeton, New Jersey, where his father, Rev. Ernest O. Norquist was attending seminary. His mother is Jeannette Norquist.

He is married to Susan Mudd and has one son, Benjamin, and one daughter, Katherine. Susan is the descendant of Samuel Mudd, the doctor who treated President Abraham Lincoln's assassin, John Wilkes Booth.

Early political career[edit]

He was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1975, where he served until seeking and winning a seat in the Wisconsin State Senate in 1983. In 1974 he ran against completing the Stadium South Freeway, which was to run from Milwaukee County Stadium south to I-894. In 1974, nearly 50% of the freeway segment was either built or the land was cleared for construction. Norquist opposed the Stadium South despite his constituents voting for completion in the November 1974 Milwaukee County freeway referenda. All five remaining Milwaukee County freeway segments passed in the November 1974 referendum (complementing the April 1967 city vote in favor of the Park East-Lake Freeway project).

Norquist joined forces with emerging generation of legislators including James Moody (later a US representative) in opposing freeway expansion and was re-elected to the Assembly and advanced to the State Senate. While in the Senate, Norquist served on the powerful Joint Finance Committee and was recognized by Milwaukee Magazine as a leading legislator.

Mayor of Milwaukee[edit]

In 1988, Norquist campaigned and won the job of mayor of Milwaukee. His tenure as mayor of Milwaukee came on the heels of the 28-year reign by Henry Maier.

Norquist can perhaps best be described as a "fiscally conservative socialist."[2] He was strongly in favor of light rail as a solution for the city's transit problems and was known throughout the country for his anti-freeway stance and for the removal of the Park East Freeway, the largest highway ever purposely destroyed.[citation needed] He consistently reduced the property tax rate every year since becoming mayor and kept city budgets from growing beyond the rate of inflation.

One of the first controversies of Norquist's tenure occurred in 1988, when he took a trip to Israel. The trip was paid for by local Milwaukee Jewish organizations, but as a result of the controversy, Norquist afterward paid much of the cost himself. On his return, the Milwaukee Sentinel printed a political cartoon showing him getting off a plane dressed as a Hasidic Jewish rabbi. The cartoon created an uproar, and the Sentinel published an apology for it.

In December 2000, Norquist's future as mayor was thrown into doubt as a staff assistant, Marilyn Figueroa, alleged that the mayor had sexually harassed her. Norquist admitted to a five-year consensual affair, but whether it was consensual is contested.[3] Eventually, in April 2002, Norquist announced that he would not seek a fifth term as mayor in 2004. The city of Milwaukee paid Figueroa $750,000 plus attorney's fees, in the case.

When presented in June 2003 with the opportunity to lead the Congress for the New Urbanism, Norquist said that he would resign at the beginning of the following year rather than serve out his full term. The announcement was timed to prevent a special election. Instead, the head of the common council, Marvin Pratt, served as acting mayor.

His term was marked by public conflicts with other city leaders, including Bo Black, former head of Summerfest; Arthur Jones, his one-time bodyguard who became chief of police; and Bradley DeBraska, head of the police union. Despite some conflict, Norquist's legacy in Milwaukee includes a decline in poverty, a boom in downtown housing, and reforms in both education and welfare.

Post mayoral career[edit]

At the beginning of 2004, Norquist began working full-time as the head of the Congress for the New Urbanism, an urban planning and development reform organization based in Chicago, Illinois.

Works[edit]

Norquist, John O. The Wealth of Cities (1998). ISBN 0-7382-0134-0

Awards[edit]

Edmund N. Bacon Prize, Ed Bacon Foundation (now under the Philadelphia Center for Architecture), 2008

External links[edit]

Notes[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Henry W. Maier
Mayor of Milwaukee
1988–2003
Succeeded by
Marvin Pratt (acting mayor)