Aldermen balk at reappointment for Rocky Marcoux

Fate of Department of City Development commissioner sent back to committee


Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 05:02 pm

After serving as the city of Milwaukee’s commissioner for the Department of City Development for 12 years, Richard “Rocky” Marcoux’s job hangs in the balance.


On Wednesday, the Common Council initially voted against Marcoux’s reappointment and later voted to send the matter back to the Zoning, Neighborhood and Development Committee with several members of the council concerned that Marcoux and his department have been too focused on downtown Milwaukee and have ignored other areas of the city.

“We need to do a national search,” said Alderman Tony Zielinski, who spoke several times in opposition to Marcoux’s reappointment. “We need an aggressive, talented individual who will work with the business community and work with us.”

Aldermen Zielinski, Ashanti Hamilton, Robert Bauman, José Pérez, Chantia Lewis, Mark Borkowski, Khalif Rainey, and James Bohl voted against Marcoux’s appointment.

Bohl voted with the majority as part of a parliamentary procedure so he could make a motion to reconsider the vote.

When the vote was reconsidered, Zielinski, Bauman, Donovan, Perez and Borkowski voted a second time against Marcoux.

On June 28, the ZND committee voted to reappoint Marcoux with Alderwoman Coggs abstaining.

Coggs, who represents the Haymarket, Brewers Hill and Harambee neighborhoods, said she was supportive of the overall work Marcoux had been doing, but was concerned the poor people living in her district were not getting enough attention.

Alderman Bohl later urged council members Wednesday to vote in favor of Marcoux’s reappointment, cautioning them that without another candidate identified, it would be “poison in the well,” and more problematic for the city moving forward.

Alderman Michael Murphy agreed, calling Marcoux a “sacrificial lamb.”

“Rocky is an outstanding city employee and I would hate to see his career ended – I believe this is less about him and more about anger at the mayor,” Murphy said. “Sometimes he says no, but we have to respect that. In this case, the mayor has no back up plan for a new appointment.”

Zelinski questioned Marcoux supporters on the council who say the city is experiencing an unprecedented surge in development activity.

“I have the highest respect for Mr. Marcoux as a man, he is a person of honor and integrity, this has everything to do with the future of Milwaukee and during the last 12 years he has been commissioner he has fallen short,” Zelinski said. “We need to more forward today with an aggressive search. We can’t afford to wait another four weeks.”

Marcoux and Mayor Tom Barrett could not immediately be reached for comment.

Barrett appointed Marcoux to serve as commissioner for the Department of City Development in 2004. Before his appointment, he spent the bulk of his career working in the city’s Housing Authority.

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