Jeramey Jannene

Barrett Will Become Ambassador to Luxembourg

Mayor's appointment means Cavalier Johnson will serve as acting mayor, special election will be called.

By - Aug 25th, 2021 01:50 pm
Mayor Tom Barrett speaking at the groundbreaking for the Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Mayor Tom Barrett speaking at the groundbreaking for the Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons. File photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is expected to be appointed the United States Ambassador to Luxembourg.

President Joe Biden will nominate Barrett, 67, to serve as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the White House confirmed Wednesday. The position is subject to U.S. Senate confirmation.

The long-time Milwaukee mayor would lead the U.S. embassy, located in Luxembourg City. Situated between Germany, France and Belgium, Luxembourg has a population of approximately 620,000, similar to Milwaukee. But despite being one of the smallest countries in Europe, the country is approximately 10 times the size of the City of Milwaukee.

Luxembourg is a sovereign nation led by a monarch, the grand duchy. It also has a parliament led by a prime minister. The official language of the country is Luxembourgish, along with administrative languages of German and French.

Barrett has served as mayor since 2004. He was re-elected four times, including in April 2020. Prior to serving as mayor Barrett was a five-term member of the U.S. House of Representatives, one-term member of the Wisconsin State Senate and a two-term member of the Wisconsin State Assembly. He ran unsuccessfully for governor three times.

“It is a remarkable privilege to be the mayor of Milwaukee,” said Barrett in s a two-minute speech given after this article was first published. “In the period between my nomination and final Senate consideration, I will continue to focus my full attention on mayoral duties, my obligations to the people of this great city.”

Barrett did not take questions after delivering his speech outside his office at City Hall.

If and when Barrett steps down, Common Council President Cavalier Johnson would become acting mayor until a special election is called. He would not have to resign from his council seat to become acting mayor, but could not vote during the time he is acting mayor.

State law requires a special election to be called “as promptly as possible.” While it is unknown when Barrett will step down, the date of the special election would be between 62 and 77 days between when it is ordered by the council. If Barrett delays his resignation sufficiently, the election could be called to sync up with the already scheduled April 2022 or November 2022 elections.

Syncing up with an already scheduled election would save the city $150,000 from not having to host a standalone, citywide election.

Johnson, 34, was first elected to the Common Council in 2016. He was elected council president by a one-vote margin in 2020. He previously worked as a staff assistant to Barrett and at the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board. For more on Johnson’s background, see our April 2021 column.

The ambassador post is currently held by Casey Mace, the embassy’s charge de’affaires (chief of mission). Mace took on the caretaker role after appointed ambassador Randy Evans stepped down following the end of President Donald Trump‘s term in January.

Barrett has been the subject of federal appointment rumors since Biden was elected. He is the longest actively-serving big-city mayor and has long been a prominent Democrat. Johnson, since becoming council president, has been positioning himself for a potential mayoral run.

Biden has only one ambassador to a foreign nation confirmed and more than 50 pending appointments.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this article said Johnson would be mayor through April 2024. He will serve until a special election concludes.

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Categories: Politics

4 thoughts on “Barrett Will Become Ambassador to Luxembourg”

  1. NieWiederKrieg says:

    Went to grade school with Tom at Saint Sebastian’s Catholic Church. We got Tom started in politics by electing him class President. He was the tallest kid in our class.

    Tom’s ancestry is French. Now he’s living the dream…

    Congratulations, Tom.

  2. sbaldwin001 says:

    By his own admission, Milwaukee is facing a fiscal crisis beginning in 2023 in which 1 in 8 city employees may need to be let go unless pensions are renegotiated. He has been mayor since 2004, and he is now leaving Milwaukee citizens and his successor with this mess which he either created or did little to prevent.

    History will judge him. My question now is: How deep is this problem?

  3. steenwyr says:

    Only a shallow read of that history would assign blame to City leadership and not the State Legislature

  4. NieWiederKrieg says:

    A warning to every man, woman, and child living in the City of MIlwaukee…

    Tom Barrett shed blood, sweat, and tears defending and protecting your city from corrupt, immoral, racist, Unamerican, low-life garbage like Scott Walker, Robin Vos, the Koch brothers, ALEC, and every GOP piece of trash in the State of Wisconsin.

    Remember when Scott Walker was elected as your County Executive? Walker wanted to sell your County Parks to real estate developers. Walker’s staff went to prison for stealing money from Purple Heart, a charity that distributed $600 checks to widows and children of Wisconsin service members killed in action. Scott Walker plunged a long knife into the City of Milwaukee every day while he was Governor.

    You have the difficult task of replacing Tom Barrett; an honest, trustworthy, caring Mayor. Be careful not to elect another Scott Walker.

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