A city that caters to the needs of the people.
That’s the premise for Ald. Joe Davis’ new exploratory committee.
The committee materialized only last week. It will help Davis to determine what his priorities will be, should he decide to run against Mayor Tom Barrett in the upcoming, 2016 election.
In a July 21 interview with the Milwaukee Courier, Davis called it an “assessment of where the city is at” and a way for residents to tell him “what they feel has not been addressed. Davis intends for it to be a balanced look at the community’s current state.
“I’m doing it in a way that’s more data driven and more community involved,” said Davis.
Thus far, he’s found that his city is in less than satisfactory condition. High poverty appears to beget a high crime rate. Davis, who calls himself a “Milwaukee boy”, finds that “the neighborhood I grew up in is now poverty stricken. That is unacceptable.”
Poverty is one of several issues Davis hopes to address through the exploratory committee. Among others are crime, education, and the local economy.
He finds that the current methods of addressing these issues are “unsustainable”, not well-rounded enough to produce tangible results.
“There needs to be more strategic and pointed efforts,” said Davis.
For him, the economy is high on his list of issues, and in desperate need of solutions.
According to the alderman of eleven years, potential new businesses are often discouraged to plant their roots in Milwaukee due to a floundering economic atmosphere.
“They look at the numbers,” said Davis. “That’s the reason we haven’t seen growth in the city.”
However, as chair of the Community and Economic Development Committee, Davis is no stranger to economic improvement efforts.
Davis highlighted some of his work as alderman, such as the development of Foreign Trade Zone 41.
He had a hand in approaching the U.S. Department of Commerce to make the Port of Milwaukee a free-trade zone.
In addition, Davis has worked to secure Milwaukee’s future economic health by helping to create a Summer Youth Internship program, one that the alderman said has been “building capacity in young people” between the ages of sixteen and eighteen since its inception in 2005. According to Davis, about 150 youth community members, most being African American, take part each year in order to master creativity and work ethics.
Davis intends to get the community more involved in the administrative side of it’s local economy, as well.
He cited the city’s 1.2 billion dollar budget as a good opportunity for residents to explain what they would like to see come to fruition Milwaukee, what ideals they have, and what they think should be done with city funds. On July 9 and 10, Davis called upon the public to express their thoughts on the allocation of federal grants next year at two public hearings.
“I’m approachable,” said Davis, in regards to discussing the budget with the community he serves. He finds that his lifelong residency within the city’s lines connects him with the community.
When asked what he felt Barrett might be neglecting as mayor, and what he would do differently, Davis expressed concern with other matters.
“This is not about Tom Barrett, it’s about the people,” said Davis, noting that it’s far more important to be sure that the needs of Milwaukee residents are met.
The Milwaukee native cited his motivations for considering a campaign for mayor as being wholly for the love of a city that, to him, appears to be hurting.
“The main focus is to do what’s right for Milwaukee,” Davis said.
Although the alderman has not committed to campaign for the position of mayor in two years just yet, he’s already held a press conference for the exploratory committee that might answer questions he has regarding what the city will ask of him, should he run.