“The President’s Perspective”
By Alderman Ashanti Hamilton
Common Council President City of Milwaukee
This week, I had the blessing of celebrating my 46th birthday. During this time every year, I reflect on the previous year’s events and take inventory of my successes, challenges and acknowledge the lessons learned from my failures. This reflective process helps me to begin each new birthday with renewed purpose and guides what I want to accomplish in my life roles as Alderman, husband and father and citizen of Milwaukee. It is necessary to take inventory from time to time and it is not a process solely beneficial to the individual. As a community and City, we must take the opportunity to reflect upon our collective successes, challenges and yes, even our failures. This process of renewal will help us move forward with a clear purpose and strengthen our collective resolve to audaciously confront the challenges that impede Milwaukee’s potential to become an inclusive city where all citizens thrive.
In Milwaukee, we are entering a new era of opportunity. Unprecedented investments in Downtown and world class facilities, hosting world class sports franchises, have elevated Milwaukee’s profile nationally. And with the DNC announcement, we are emerging as a recognized player in national politics. The narrative is beginning to shift in national media and instead of the negative stories that have driven the headlines about Milwaukee the focus has swung to our successes.
This new excitement about Milwaukee is inspiring. But we shouldn’t lose sight of addressing our adversities. It must be part of the process. Just like nature’s process each spring, there must be a clearing away of the layers of debris of the old to allow the growth of the new that lies beneath. There is great potential in this budding renewal, but this process requires the uncomfortable acknowledgement of all aspects of our city’s history, long past and recent. This honest approach will ensure that as we grow, we make good on the vision of Milwaukee as the inclusive, equitable city of opportunity that we have the opportunity to create.
My fellow Aldermen/women and I are working to move this process forward, while working diligently to address challenges that may block the fulfillment of Milwaukee’s promise. Through the Community Collaborative Committee and ACLU Settlement Agreement, we are about to see new reforms, levels of oversight and protocols informed by the community that will support fairer policing practices and improved relationship between law enforcement and the community.
We are strategically connecting neighborhoods that collar Milwaukee’s downtown to new investment that will improve housing and businesses in the city’s most underserved neighborhoods. The Community and Economic Development Committee will soon be hearing a new plan to leverage downtown’s boon to provide public and private investments to residential areas.
And to address day to day concerns of our citizens that impact quality of life and enjoyment of our city, the council is working with City departments like DPW and DNS to create innovative solutions. We are creating legislation to deal with pot holes, trash dumping, and other infrastructure concerns that negatively impact the way we move through and experience our city daily. This work is only the beginning of the council’s commitment to mitigating what plagues our city in order to prepare to build new ways forward.
Milwaukee’s renewal will require all of us to acknowledge and learn from our challenging history. But doing so will provide us with honestly informed plan for growth that will allow Milwaukee to realize its full potential to become a first tier city.