Holloway faces uncertain future leading up to primary election

Lee Holloway at the Milwaukee County Executive Forum at the Marquette Law School. Photo by Emily Waller / Emily.Waller@Marquette.edu

“I may be down, but I come back stronger than ever,” Lee Holloway, Milwaukee County executive hopeful, said in a recent campaign ad. Holloway, recently caught amid a string of personal issues, will need to adhere to this message as the election nears.

On Thursday, Holloway stepped down from acting Milwaukee County Executive to return to his former duty as chairman of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors. The five-week stint as acting county executive came about after Scott Walker left office to become governor.

Marvin Pratt, former Milwaukee mayor and Marquette University graduate, was nominated by Holloway and sworn in as interim county executive, effective until the final April 5 election. Though he does not plan on entering the race or endorsing any candidates, Pratt plans to work side-by-side with Holloway, who can focus on his campaign.

Holloway hopes to regain the position by competing as one of five candidates in the Feb. 15 primary election. However, recent problems facing his rental properties at the intersection of West Atkinson Avenue and West Capitol Drive have pushed private matters to the forefront of his campaign.

Attention toward the Holloway Living Trust, a real-estate business owned by Holloway and his wife, Lynda, gathered particular weight two weeks ago when tenant Thelma Murphy, 50, sued Holloway for not maintaining the property and causing her to fall down her building’s stairs last August.

It is just one complaint of more than 800 calls police have responded to since January 2009, according to a Milwaukee Police Department release.

Murphy is also accusing Holloway of sending armed security guard Eric Turner to intimidate her and to tear apart her apartment. Police filed a report Jan. 5 against Turner for four misdemeanors committed against Murphy.

Holloway said he has no knowledge of the incident between Murphy and Turner but called Murphy a “bad tenant” in a press release.

The feud with Murphy brings attention to the scores of other complaints set forth against Holloway, including a lawsuit issued by city officials for property code violations. Holloway faces six separate actions in Municipal Court for over 100 code violations.

According to the Department of Neighborhood Services, the main concerns are basement sanitation, maintenance of electrical fixtures and an abundance of cockroaches.

Murphy’s building at 2061 W. Atkinson Ave. has been the source of a particularly high number of complaints: close to 200 calls in the past two years, averaging seven calls a month, MPD said. Police hope for that number to average three calls a month per landlord.

Holloway did not respond for comment. However, at a candidate forum on Jan. 21, Holloway claimed the violations involve only exterior issues and “within the households, it’s fine.”

An in-depth PolitiFact Wisconsin investigation, however, used the DNS website to reveal that not all the issues are exterior, and Holloway had “200 outstanding violations on eight of his 15 properties” at the time.

Holloway, a member of the county board since 1992 and chairman for eight years, was scheduled to appear before the court on Jan. 27. His lawyer postponed until March 24.