“The President’s Perspective”
By Alderman Ashanti Hamilton-Common Council President City of Milwaukee
For the length of my career as an elected official, people have been asking me when change is going to come to Milwaukee. When are things going to get better in their neighborhoods? When are people going to rise up and take ownership of their community? When are jobs going to come? The list goes on and on. My message for you today is simple—The time is now.
It is time for us to own the narrative surrounding our neighborhoods. No matter where you live, your neighborhood has a story. People that have been in the same house on the same block for 50 years don’t live there on accident. Long-time residents are the gatekeepers of our shared history. We need to learn that history, proclaim that history, take pride in that history and add our own chapter to that history. It’s time for residents to be proud of where they live.
It is time for us to educate our children. During his most recent visit to City Hall, Governor-elect Evers pledged the support of his office to our children. We look forward to seeing more investments made in our schools, especially the institutions that serve our youngest and most vulnerable residents. As a matter of fact, the Governor Elect committed to a 5-Star Early Childhood Education right in the heart of the 53206 neighborhood. We will not stop until every single child has a place to go to get a foundation that will lead to a lifetime of success. It’s time for our youth to come to school already succeeding, not playing catch-up. It’s time for us as a community to collectively own and take on the responsibility of providing our children quality education and not point fingers at who is failing them. WE are failing them as a community.
It is time for violence in Milwaukee not just cease by end. We are losing precious lives left and right to senselessness. At the City-level, we must remain committed to making sure our efforts through MPD and OVP are reducing the violence in Milwaukee. As residents, we also need to do our part by teaching the value of someone’s life. No matter how different your circumstances are from someone else’s, we are united by the fact that we all only have one chance at life on Earth. One shot. Our existence is our most valuable resource. Nothing should take that away. It’s time to show the world that our lives have value and so do the lives of others.
It is time for us to give people an opportunity. Neighborhoods across my District and every District in Milwaukee are filled with people who struggle to make ends meet. Some are unemployed; others work jobs that cannot sustain a family. Yet, employers are constantly saying that they are looking for employees. They have jobs that pay $15+/hour starting and cannot find people to take them. As a community, we need to make those opportunities known to those who need it. We have to do a better job communicating what’s out there. It is essential to deliver a message of hope, a message of a better life that people can achieve right now, today. It’s time to make that message real. Then let’s take it a step further than just the message. Let’s commit to actually doing something to connect the unemployed with employment.
As I write this I am reminded that it has long been time for these things to happen in Milwaukee. People should have always had pride in their neighborhoods. We should have never let our schools get to a point where they were failing our students. Violence should never have become a description of our City. Opportunity should never have been something people dreamed of instead of seeing as tangible.
However, now is the moment where we must take up this call together. I truly believe that there has never been a better time to make this change happen. There is excitement about Milwaukee that I have never seen and felt before. Much of it is based in the opportunities that our challenges present. I believe this excitement has the potential to bring positive change to every corner of Milwaukee. We just have to be ready, willing and able to do the work. I believe we can be. It’s time!