Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

Barrett Officially Declares Re-Election Bid

Mayor running for 5th term, hopes to serve 20 years as city's leader.

By - Nov 20th, 2019 01:13 pm
Mayor Tom Barrett announces his re-election bid. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Mayor Tom Barrett announces his re-election bid. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Standing in a building that burned during the August 2016 Sherman Park unrest, Tom Barrett officially announced his bid for a fifth term as mayor with a reference to that neighborhood’s eruption of violence more than three years ago.

“It was the most challenging time I’ve had as mayor of this city,” said Barrett. But he said the vision and passion of people coming together, notably JoAnne Sabir and Juli Kaufmann who redeveloped the former BMO Harris Bank branch on W. Fond du Lac Ave. into the Sherman Phoenix marketplace, has him feeling more optimistic about Milwaukee than ever before. “It happened because we came together,” said Barrett of the Sherman Phoenix development and the many businesses within, including Sabir’s Shindig Coffee where he made his speech.

“We are stronger together as a city, we are stronger together as a state, we are stronger together as a nation and we are stronger together as a world,” said Barrett, hammering home a word used repeatedly in his approximately 10-minute long speech.

He touted a number of successes during his speech, including the redevelopment of the Menomonee Valley and The Brewery, the creation of the Earn & Learn program for youth employment and job training, the Michels and Komatsu Harbor District developments, and his 10,000 Homes initiative. He pledged to continue to seek ways to expand the economic revival of Downtown into more neighborhoods.

He also addressed Milwaukee’s problems. “We all know Milwaukee has taken some serious shots,” said Barrett as he ticked off a list of problems afflicting the city over the past few decades including racism, segregation, crime and poverty.

“It’s about homes, it’s about residents, it’s about jobs, but it’s also about opportunity,” said the mayor. “Family supporting jobs are without a doubt the best thing we can do for the people that live in this community.” Referencing the recent rejection of a proposal for Strauss Brands to bring hundreds of union jobs to Century City with a meat harvesting plant that became tied up by one of his mayoral opponents, Barrett said he would continue to work to bring family-supporting jobs to the city. “I’m going to continue to have my foot on the accelerator as hard as I can.”

“We have to make this a city where every grandmother can sit on her porch and watch her grandkids play safely,” said Barrett, who has served as mayor since 2004. He said a long-term solution to public safety would require a partnership from the state. Barrett and other city officials have been meeting with state legislative leaders in recent weeks to request enabling legislation to hold a binding referendum on a one percent sales tax that could be used to fund public safety and provide the city with an estimated $50 million annually.

“Let’s work together. Let’s join together. Let’s move this great community forward,” said Barrett.

It was no surprise that the mayor would run for reelection. As Urban Milwaukee reported back in June 2018, Barrett had told his closest advisors he would be running for a fifth term, just two years after winning election to his fourth term.

Why is Barrett so eager to continue as mayor with looming challenges like the need to contribution an additional $90 million annually to the city’s pension system, a reckless driving epidemic, poverty and crime? “I really am optimistic about the future of this city,” said Barrett in a response to a question from Urban Milwaukee. “I know that this city is a great city and I think people are starting to recognize what a great city this is. I think we’ve made tremendous progress, but I know we have a lot more to do. I know that there is too much poverty. I know that the challenges we have because of racism and segregation and I want to be involved in addressing those issues because I know we can make some strong, strong progress.”

Barrett, 65, was flanked by a variety of supporters in making his announcement including US Bank‘s Eugene Manzanet, Prism Technical Group CEO Randy and CAO Joann Crump, Mandel Group COO Robert Monnat, community leader Wallace White, city Department of Administration head Sharon Robinson, Farmhouse Paint & Sip owner Thaime Nanez, musicians Victoriah Banuelos and Hannah Gabriela Banuelos, a number of students and others.

Barrett’s announcement comes almost two years to the day after Alderman Tony Zielinski announced his campaign for mayor at the headquarters of the Milwaukee Police Association. In early September, state senator Lena Taylor took to her front yard on W. Hampton Ave. and announced she was throwing her hat in the ring.

Barrett, as of the end of June, has a cash advantage over Zielinski and Barrett. The mayor’s compaign reports having approximately $800,000 on hand compared to Zielinski’s $570,000 and Taylor’s $2,000.

Were Barrett to win and complete a fifth term, he would have served for 20 years, making him Milwaukee’s third longest serving mayor, after Henry Maier (28 years) and Dan Hoan (24 years).

The primary election for the mayoral election is February 18th, 2020. A general election featuring the top two vote getters from the primary will be held April 7th.

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Categories: City Hall, Politics

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