Entrepreneur Announces Run for Mayor
Michael Sampson, 38 founder of SWARMM Events, vying to replace Tom Barrett.
“I am excited to announce that I am launching my campaign for Mayor of Milwaukee,” wrote entrepreneur Michael Sampson on Facebook on Tuesday afternoon.
And while he may be launching his campaign with a Facebook post, Sampson actually made his candidacy official on Sept. 28 when he filed to run with the Milwaukee Election Commission.
Sampson, 38, founded Swarmm Events, which in the past decade has grown from organized bar crawls to a wide variety of events including Milwaukee Taco Fest and Milwaukee Oktoberfest. Last month the company announced its events have resulted in more than $150,000 being given to charities.
He’s been involved in management and ownership of a variety of other Milwaukee businesses including The Hive co-working space, Brunch restaurant, the short-lived 1983 Arcade Bar and adjacent Matador Taco and Tequila Bar.
And while he’s never entered a political campaign before, Sampson is no stranger to running. He ran track at UW-Whitewater (where he earned a degree in political science) and, earlier this month, completed the Los Angeles Marathon. The latter endeavor involved carrying an engagement ring with him the entire time and proposing after he crossed the finish line (Kristin Brey, his girlfriend and creator of As Goes Wisconsin, said yes).
The ideas section of Sampson’s campaign website shares three goals for the city. The first is to reach one million residents by attracting and retaining college graduates and businesses while improving K-12 schools. The second is to “make Milwaukee the most walkable and bike friendly city in the nation” by improving bicycle infrastructure, ending “the Milwaukee slide,” regularly trimming trees, bringing back scooters to Downtown, improving traffic patterns, installing traffic cameras, fixing sidewalks promptly and passing a community-approved streetcar plan. The final idea is to replace all of Milwaukee’s lead service lines within a decade without burdening renters, but does not include a mention of other lead poisoning sources.
President Joe Biden announced Mayor Tom Barrett‘s nomination to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg on Aug. 25. A special election would occur to fill the remainder of Barrett’s term, which runs through spring 2024, if and when the U.S. Senate confirms Barrett.
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.
Should Barrett resign by Dec. 28, a primary would be held Feb. 15 and a general election April 5. The position is non-partisan.
Johnson was the first to file for the race. Sheriff Earnell Lucas is also running, as is current alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic and former alderman Robert Donovan. Other candidates that have filed include activist and former aldermanic candidate Nicholas McVey and Sheila Conley-Patterson.
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