By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
Milwaukee is one step closer to getting a new mayor after this week’s spring primary election. While seven candidates campaigned to advance to the general election, only two earned enough votes to do so.
Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson and former Ald. Bob Donovan will be going head-to-head in the spring general election on Tuesday, April 5. Johnson received nearly 42% of the vote while Donovan received 22%.
The special mayoral election took place after former Mayor Tom Barrett accepted the ambassador position in Luxembourg. Barrett had been Mayor of Milwaukee for nearly 18 years. As Common Council President, Johnson has been Acting Mayor since Barrett’s departure.
The winner of the spring general election will fill out the remainder of Barrett’s term, which ends in 2024.
As the votes tallied up, Johnson addressed the crowd at an election night watch party.
“Our campaign over the next 49 days is a mandate to take this city in a new direction,” Johnson said. “To bring the kind of change we so desperately need to Milwaukee. The top priority is to make our city safer.”
He continued, “The fear in our hearts, it needs to end, now.”
Johnson plans to reduce gun violence and the number of homicides. Guns can’t be used to settled disputes in the city, he said, reflecting on the number of shootings Milwaukee has experienced in recent weeks.
As part of his safety plan, Johnson intends to increase police presence and strengthen the city’s relationship with the state. This means working to ensure that the state shares the tax revenue with Milwaukee while also allowing the city’s autonomy to exist.
There may not be a simple solution, he said, but it starts with building and rebuilding the community.
“We’re united in investing in a comprehensive strategy to end violence,” he said. “It’s not just more cops, but also more violence interruption. It’s not more enforcement, but also more prevention.”
The other priority is to grow Milwaukee, he said. Milwaukee has the space, talent, resources and ingenuity, he said, it just needs the will to do it. This isn’t just about growth, it’s about being a leader, Johnson remarked.
Growth begins with the expansion of the Black, Asian and Latino middle class, he said, and creating family-supporting jobs. It’s about creating a city that people migrate to, he said.
“It is not a choice between racial equity or economic strength, it is prosperity because we include everyone,” he said. “That’s the vision, that’s the goal.”
As Johnson concluded his remarks, he expressed thanks for his family, team, supporters and his opponents.
“We got a bold vision,” Johnson said. “Together, we’re going to build a safer, stronger and more prosperous Milwaukee for all of us. In this city, we will be safer; we will be stronger; we will create more family supporting jobs and we will be the best city in America, right here in Milwaukee.”
At another election night watch party, Donovan, whose campaign slogan is Milwaukee’s Last Best Chance, expressed his thanks to his wife, family and those who have supported him as the election results rolled in.
“I’m running for Mayor of the City of Milwaukee for three major reasons,” Donovan said. “Safer streets, better schools and good jobs. If the citizens of Milwaukee choose me as their next mayor, I pledge to you tonight a commitment to get that done for this city.”
He noted that during his time as alderman, he acted in the interests of his constituents and built a repuas being reliable. Donovan added that he has working relationships with the private sector, the faith community and business community.
“Let’s get Milwaukee headed in the right direction,” Donovan said in his closing statement. “Jump on the Donovan bandwagon. We’re taking this bandwagon all the way to City Hall.”
Over the next couple months, Johnson and Donovan will continue to campaign, but they’re not the only ones. This is a major election year for Wisconsin; aside from the mayoral race is a race for U.S. Senate, one for governor and lieutenant governor and more.
The spring general election is scheduled for Tuesday, April 5. The fall primary is set for Tuesday, Aug. 9 with the general election falling on Tuesday, Nov. 8. To register to vote, find your polling place and more go to myvote.wi.gov.