Compiled by Courier Staff
Mandela Barnes announced on Tuesday, April 10, that he would be entering the race for State Representative in Wisconsin’s 11th Assembly District. Barnes, a local community organizer was accompanied by multiple elected officials, religious leaders, neighbors and friends when he made his announcement at a press conference held in front of the closed Daniel Webster Middle School, located at 5100 W. Green Tree Road.
The location for the campaign kick off was held at the closed middle school location, a Milwaukee Public School that is fitting a trend of many other area schools. Barnes thanked supporters, among which are Milwaukee County Supervisor Nikiya Harris, and Milwaukee School board members Mark Sain and Annie Woodward.
Barnes is currently the lead organizer of MICAH, a local nonprofit coalition of faithbased organizations and churches. He has also held posts in the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board, as well as the Milwaukee Mayor’s office.
“We are here today because we are disappointed,” Barnes said, citing multiple instances where education and jobs have been lacking in the district. “Coming up next, learn where you can find good jobs coming to Waukesha,” said Barnes, citing a local news intro. “Where are our jobs?” Barnes also spoke of the deteriorating conditions of Milwaukee’s public schools, “We chose this location because this closed school building represents the loss of hope and opportunity. Who would bring jobs to an area that closes schools? If our children don’t have opportunity, what does our future look like?”
Barnes also spoke about his passion for a better Milwaukee, he stated that he would go to serve on the State Assembly and represent the interests of the 11th district, not others’ interests.
“The state cannot move forward with a broken Milwaukee. Milwaukee is broken, and that is where my focus would be, fixing Milwaukee. There is a huge problem that exists, when we have a $600 million construction project going on in our community (Westlawn) and we do not have any local construction workers working on it. We have no access, and no one can tell us why…that is a problem. And those are the type of solutions that I would work toward.” Barnes said.
Barnes will challenge incumbent State Representative Jason Fields in the August primaries. Fields, also a Democrat, has represented the district since 2004. The 11th Assembly District is mainly comprised of the north side of Milwaukee, and has now expanded to include a portion of the Village of Glendale.