Lena Taylor Will Run For Mayor, Again
Taylor lost to Barrett in 2020, but now she's in an open, eight-way race.
She showed up at City Hall on Aug. 25, the day Mayor Tom Barrett announced he was nominated to serve as U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg. But Taylor, who lost to Barrett 63-37 in 2020, didn’t commit to running to replace him then.
“I had to follow my heart, plain and simple,” she said in a statement Monday morning. “I love the city and have worked my entire life to make it better. I see the promise and the pain of Milwaukee. I see a pathway to the city we can become, and I am unafraid to think boldly, and work with others to get us there.”
She joins a crowded field that includes acting mayor Cavalier Johnson, Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic, Sheriff Earnell Lucas, former alderman Robert Donovan, entrepreneur Michael Sampson, activist Nicholas McVey and teacher Sheila Conley-Patterson. One of Taylor’s colleagues in Madison, Assembly Representative Daniel Riemer, already exited the race.
A primary will be held Feb. 15. The top two vote-getters will advance to a general election on April 5.
A minimum of 1,500 signatures is due by Jan. 11.
Taylor is a licensed attorney, having earned a law degree from Southern Illinois University. She is a graduate of Milwaukee Public Schools‘ Rufus King High School and earned her undergraduate degree from UW-Milwaukee. Taylor previously worked as a public defender.
“I have watched us be afraid of change and of one another,” she said. “We need leadership that sees all of us, works hard for all of us and comes to the table with the prerequisite skills to get the job done. Yes, I’m in.”
Taylor has fueled controversy in recent years. She was removed in 2018 from the Joint Committee on Finance, a powerful state budget committee, by Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse). The move came after an investigation determined she bullied members of her staff and took retaliatory action against one.
Just weeks before that Taylor had an altercation at a Wells Fargo bank branch where she called a teller, who like Taylor is Black, a “house (N-word).” She was issued a citation for the matter.
In her two-paragraph campaign announcement, Taylor cited her experience on the committee.
In announcing her 2020 mayoral run at a press conference, Taylor said her biggest accomplishment at the state level was her work on justice reinvestment and criminal justice reform. She also championed her work on urban agriculture, specifically hemp legalization.
The 2020 race ended amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and state’s Safer at Home order. Taylor was critical of Barrett’s leadership resulting in only five polling places being open instead of more than 180, while Barrett attributed it to a staffing shortage.
Should Taylor’s mayoral campaign falter, she could technically reactivate her statewide campaign. That election isn’t until fall 2022.
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