By Karen Stokes
Mayor Tom Barrett is seeking re-election as Mayor of the City of Milwaukee to continue the progress he’s made over the years.
At an announcement event at Sherman Phoenix, Barrett said he wanted to build the future of Milwaukee and to reinvigorate this city and its neighborhoods.
Barrett is an approachable, friendly, fiscally responsible Democrat who cares deeply about his city. There is rarely an event that you can’t look up and see Barrett. In a climate of division, this mayor focuses on unifying the community.
Reflecting on his time in office, Barrett’s time as mayor began with a feeling of optimism and he remains optimistic today.
In his first inaugural address, Barrett talked about how he loves and believes in Milwaukee and that he was going to let the world know about the greatness of this city.
Everyone will see the greatness of this city when Milwaukee will be on the world stage hosting the 2020 Democratic National Convention this summer. This is a historic event because it is the first time in the history of the state of Wisconsin that we are hosting a major political party convention
Barrett’s tenure as mayor has not been easy. He has faced many challenges and had to make some tough decisions.
Challenges from the recession, hostility from Republicans in state government, racism, segregation, poverty and the loss of manufacturing jobs has at times put the city against the ropes.
Despite the obstacles, Barrett fights on.
In late 2019, Barrett and Strauss Brands agreed to bring a $60 million headquarters and facility to Century City Business Park. The mayor’s plan would have brought 250 plus family supporting, union jobs to Milwaukee’s Century City. Amid protests from animal rights groups and outside interest groups, the deal fell through.
Moving forward, Barrett will continue to work to bring Wisconsin businesses to neighborhoods that need it most.
According to him, Milwaukee’s future starts with housing.
A primary goal of his Strong Neighborhoods Plan aims to increase affordable housing availability in the city by building or improving 10,000 housing units in 10 years. This effort is well on its way.
He has prioritized the creation and rehabilitation of nearly 7,000 affordable housing units. To date, this includes 600 units built at Westlawn, 700 affordable units built downtown, over 800 supportive housing units for seniors, veterans and homeless or chronically ill individuals. Through these initiatives, neighborhoods have been impacted across the city by over $300 million in public investment and have leveraged over $300 million in private investment.
Mayor Barrett knows that our youth are the future of this city and that is why he is investing in them now. In his 2020 budget he included an allocation of $13.6 million for lead-line replacements, testing and filters for at-risk households, a $1.2 million increase from 2019.
He will work to replace 1,100 lead services lines across the city in 2020 building off of the success in replacing 1,000 lead service lines in 2019. Since 2004, 70% fewer children in Milwaukee have tested positive for lead poisoning, but Barrett knows his work is not done.
In his fight to better our community, Barrett has launched signature initiatives to address some of Milwaukee’s most serious challenges:
• Ceasefire Sabbath- This is an effort to mobilize the faith-based community to work collaboratively to improve public safety and strengthen neighborhoods. The annual event continues to focus on the discussion of violence prevention and how to better invest in the futures of Milwaukee’s young people.
• EARN & LEARN- When Barrett first took office, there were several violent incidents involving Milwaukee teens. The following year, the Earn & Learn program was established. The program connects teens to local businesses, nonprofits, community and faith-based organizations and assists young people from Milwaukee in making a successful transition from adolescence into adulthood through job skills and work experience. Youth throughout Milwaukee are working at over 75 different community-based sites.
• Holiday Drive- The drive began as a way for the City of Milwaukee to share their gratitude to Wisconsin troops who were far away from their homes during the holidays. More than 2,000 goodie-filled boxes were shipped to Wisconsin troops serving our country overseas in places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo. The program also supports veterans, their families and homeless vets.
One of his latest successes includes his leadership on the bid to bring the 2020 Democratic National Convention to Milwaukee.
The convention is expected to draw 50,000 visitors and have an economic impact of $200 million to $300 million throughout the state.
The goal of a mayor should be to make the city they govern better. Barrett’s strength is the tenacity with which he works to improve our city. Barrett has a strong record and he will continue to fight for the future of Milwaukee.