History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Wisconsin - People - Bios

JoCasta Zamarripa


March 8, 1976
Primary Involvements:

Politician- First openly LGBT City of Milw Alderperson





JoCasta Zamarripa is the City of Milwaukee's first openly LGBTQ member of Milwaukee’s Common Council. As alderwoman for Milwaukee's 8th District, she works to ensure that every Milwaukeean has a voice and a seat at the table.

Zamarripa was born and raised in the same Milwaukee neighborhood she now represents. JoCasta is the oldest of her four siblings, raised by a single mom. Her grandmother, Alicia, was a migrant farm worker from Eagle Pass, Texas, who moved her family to Wisconsin because she believed there were better economic opportunities for her and her family in the dairy state. JoCasta’s first job was a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel paper route in the 8th aldermanic district. She graduated from St. Joan Antida High School and is the first in her family to graduate from college, receiving her BFA from UW-Milwaukee in 2005.

Zamarripa worked as an outreach coordinator at 'Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin', and also worked at 'Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin' as well as an organizer for 'Fair Wisconsin'. She also served as a board member for '9 to 5' - National Association of Working Women. She has always been a champion of equality and knows the importance of being a strong role model.

A Democrat, Zamarripa was elected to the 8th Wisconsin State Assembly district in 2010. JoCasta was the first Latina elected to the Wisconsin State Legislature. In the heavily Democratic 8th district, Zamarripa never faced a significant challenge outside the Democratic primary election. In 2010, 2012 and 2014, she faced repeated unsuccessful challenges in that primary. In each final election, Zamarripa won 83% or more of the general election vote.

During her time in the Assembly, JoCasta was a leader supporting pro-immigrant policy at the state level. She championed getting drivers' cards for undocumented Wisconsinites to make roads safer for everyone, led the fight for tuition equity for Wisconsin dreamers, and fought against bills that would turn our community's police officers into immigration agents. She has always been a strong advocate for public schools, challenging the voucher program, and prioritizing quality, affordable healthcare for all, pushing for higher wages and fair taxes, a clean and safe environment, and ensuring our democracy works for all.

In a July 2012 interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, she announced that she is bisexual. She was at that time one of four openly LGBT members of the Wisconsin Legislature, alongside Senator Tim Carpenter (D–Milwaukee) and Representatives Mark Spreitzer (D–Beloit) and Todd Novak (R–Dodgeville). In 2014, she was included as part of the annual "40 under 40" list in The Advocate magazine.

In 2017, Zamarripa attended Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government as a David Bohnett LGBTQ Victory Institute Leadership Fellow.

Moving on from the State Assembly, in her campaign for Alderwoman in 2020, Zamarripa cited the following reasons for running:

    The voters of the 8th District deserve an Alderwoman who will understand our needs and our issues, and who will always listen. I was born and raised on Milwaukee's near south side and I've lived here at every stage of my life. I'll be an Alderwoman who will fight every day to make sure every voice in this district is heard.

    Milwaukee has a profound need for leadership at this critical juncture, and I'm part of a new generation, moving our city forward in a positive, inclusive way. If Wisconsin is going to succeed, it needs a strong, vibrant Milwaukee at its heart. We need to address crime and economic inequality. We need to ensure city services are working for all of us, including snow plowing, garbage & recycling pickup, and road maintenance.

    And we need leadership to attract new businesses to the south side and southwest side. We need a vision of how our neighborhoods can remain affordable for those who’ve been here a long time, while also attractive to new residents looking for a new home.

    We know this district is rapidly changing, much in the same way that Milwaukee is changing, and I’m running to ensure that every Milwaukeean has a voice and a seat at the table.

In August 2021, Zamarripa represented the City of Milwaukee Common Council and presented a Resolution recognizing the 60th anniversary of Milwaukee's 'Black Nite Brawl', a fight in a Milwaukee LGBT bar on August 5, 1961 which is now recognized as one of the earliest precursors to the 'Stonewall' riots in New York eight years later, which kicked off the national 'gay rights' movement. See more information about the event at this link.

More information about JoCasta can be found at the following links:


In a parade

Speaking at LGBT outreach

2022 City Council campaign logo

Speaking at City event
Zamarripa about to present a Resolution
recognizing the 60th anniversary of
Milwaukee's 'Black Nite Brawl'
(JoCasta is immediately behind
Mayor Tom Barrett at the lecturn)

JoCasta Zamarripa

Credits: web site concept, design and contents by Don Schwamb;
Last updated: July-2022.

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