MILWAUKEE — We still don't know when Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett will leave office to become Ambassador to Luxembourg. It all depends on if and when Barrett is confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
Common Council President Cavalier Johnson says he will run for the job just down the hall from his office. But no one has been elected mayor from that side of City Hall in more than a century.
TMJ4's Charles Benson: "You want to be Mayor of Milwaukee?"
Pres. Johnson: "I absolutely 100% want to be Mayor of Milwaukee."
President Johnson sees himself as a man in the right place at the right time.
If Barrett is confirmed, the five-time elected mayor would then resign from office and Johnson would become acting mayor.
"We have to work on things like public safety and reckless driving," said Johnson. "Those sorts of issues that have been plaguing neighborhoods in Milwaukee for the past number of years, so that's where my focus will be."
Johnson was first elected to Alderman in 2016 and re-elected in 2020. His Common Council colleagues selected him as president last year, a job that puts him in line to be the acting mayor.
The next mayor will face similar challenges: How do you reduce crime, improve K-12 education, and find the financial resources to do it all with limited mayoral powers?
Benson: "How do you think you will meet some of those challenges that he [Barrett] faced, that any mayor would face in trying to bring about change, when you really don't have access to the power channels to change it?"
Pres. Johnson: "To access those channels, to get things done, you've got to be able to move Madison. You've got to be able to build relationships with the folks that run the legislature, the Republicans who are in control. And look, I'm a realist when it comes to Madison."
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Johnson says he has already met with lawmakers as part of his current job.
"I believe that the next mayor of this city needs to have what I call a cot in the Capitol," said Johnson. "Working every single day to build new relationships with the folks that run Madison, in order to put Milwaukee in a position where we can tackle those very issues."