Milwaukee County Supervisor Resigns amid Misconduct Questions

A Milwaukee County Supervisor has resigned under a cloud of misconduct in office allegations.

Supervisor Dyango Zerpa, who represents the county’s 14th District, is leaving to “pursue other opportunities,” his attorney Michael Maistelman told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Maistelman did not return a call from The Star News Network seeking comment.

The first-term supervisor leaves his position amid questions about his conduct in government office.

As Wisconsin Spotlight first reported last year, Zerpa was fired from his other job as a legislative aide for state Rep. Sylvia Ortiz-Velez (D-Milwaukee) after he was found to have misrepresented his state government hours and failed to complete the duties of the office, according to Ortiz-Valez.

State IT records showed Zerpa failed to come into the Madison office for long stretches of time while Ortiz-Velez was taking care of her dying younger sister.

“He said he had to postpone his regular trips to the office because of high gas prices,” a source close to the situation told Wisconsin Spotlight in October. Between his supervisor position and legislative aide post, Zerpa was earning more than $75,000 a year, plus benefits. Ortiz-Velez’s Assembly salary is approximately $53,000 a year.

Zerpa, who has been in office for less than a year, has had issues with late campaign finance reports and in showing up to board committee meetings. He failed to file his July campaign finance statements until mid-November. There have also been questions surrounding travel expenses related to a government-funded trip to the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico last summer.  Urban Milwaukee has confirmed the supervisor sought reimbursement from the county for a longer hotel stay than what was unapproved, then lied to county board staff about the expense.

Sources with knowledge of the situation have told Wisconsin Spotlight that the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office has opened an investigation into Zerpa’s conduct. Prosecutors have not returned calls seeking comment.

Zerpa did not return a message left at his office Friday, although his personal voicemail remained active. In October he told Wisconsin Spotlight he was unaware of any investigation against him and called charges of misconduct “nonsense.”

Milwaukee County Board Chairwoman Marcelia Nicholson could not be reached for comment. She told the Journal Sentinel she had been copied on a communication from Zerpa to Sheriff Denita Ball and Milwaukee County Clerk George Christenson on Jan. 20 stating his intent to resign his seat on Jan. 27.

Zerpa’s two-year term ends next April. Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley can call for a special election to fill the vacancy.

“District 14 needs strong effective leadership at the County level,” Ortiz-Velez told The Star News Network. “I look forward to the community coming together and electing someone who will represent our community.”

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M.D. Kittle is the National Political Editor for The Star News Network.
Photo “Dyango Zerpa” by Dyango Zerpa for County Supervisor. Background Photo “Milwaukee County Courthouse” by Asher Heimermann. CC BY 3.0.



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