By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
As the figurehead of Milwaukee, when Mayor Tom Barrett enters a room it’s nearly impossible to miss him. Barrett has been mayor of Milwaukee since 2004 and is well-known throughout the city.
Last month, Barrett along with Sen. Lena Taylor received the votes needed to move on to the general election, which is set for Tuesday, April 7. Barrett won just over 50% of the votes with Taylor in second with about 30 percent. The two are vying against each other in the mayoral election.
Earlier this week, the mayor held a Spring Symposium at the Italian Community Center to help raise funds for his campaign.
After thanking everyone for their attendance, Barrett asked for a moment of silence for the victims of the Molson Coors shooting and for the recent domestic violence cases. He said Molson Coors has always been supportive and its important that Milwaukeeans continue to be there for the company during this difficult time.
Barrett then shifted gears to the Democratic National Convention. It’s a great honor to host the DNC, and Barrett said that is he very excited to have people come to Milwaukee. He noted, however, that the possibility of a brokered convention has left him a bit apprehensive.
A brokered convention also known as an open convention occurs when a political party fails to successfully elect a nominee. In other words, a nominee fails to receive the majority of the votes, so the delegates keep voting until one of the nominees wins. If that were to happen, the cost of things such as extra security would fall on Milwaukee.
In spite of that being a possibility, Barrett reiterated what an amazing opportunity this is for Milwaukee. This is a great opportunity for local businesses, especially for JCP Construction, a locally owned African American business, that is building the stage for the convention.
Aside from the DNC, Barrett noted that there has been a resurgence and renaissance in the city. While he’s proud to be a cheerleader for such positive change, he’s mindful that other parts of Milwaukee haven’t done as well.
“The heart of Milwaukee is strong,” he said, the heart being downtown.
He explained that even though the downtown only makes up 3% of Milwaukee, it contributes 23% in its revenue, which helps pay for libraries, the police force and more throughout all of Milwaukee.
Barrett said that the addition of Strauss Brands to Century City would have been a great opportunity for Milwaukee in terms of family supporting jobs. Although he’s upset that the deal with Strauss Brands never came to fruition, he said it’s a reminder that the city needs to work with the business community and community members more when making decisions.
After concluding his speech, Barrett introduced the crowd to Cynthia LaConte, the CEO of The Dohmen Company. LaConte helped secure the DNC for Milwaukee, Barrett explained.
When asked why she stepped up to bat, LaConte said it never occurred to her not to.
LaConte has been the leader of Dohmen for the past 10 years and said at some point the moment came for the company to reinvent itself. It looked at its model and chose what to preserve, what to destroy and what to create.
Dohmen cut its relationship with the pharmaceutical industry and instead began to focus on how to offer prevention rather than only treatment.
LaConte said she learned five lessons after transforming an S-Corp into a benefit corporation. One, don’t fear dissonance. Two, define the world you want. Three, change the story. Four, take action and five, measure what matters.
She added that the preserve, destroy and create formula could be applied to Wisconsin. LaConte said to preserve natural beauty and patriotism but destroy income inequality, social disparity in health, safety and education and create a vision for a happy and healthy state.
Barrett said, “At the end of the day, we care about our surroundings and those we love.” He added that as mayor he plans to do everything that he can to move this city forward.
The general election will take place on Tuesday, April 7. To learn more about who else is on the ballot go to myvote.wi.gov.