Mayor Tom Barrett vowed to take Milwaukee values such as hard work, honesty and caring for others to the job as U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg if confirmed.
The White House on Wednesday announced its intentions to nominate Barrett, 67, to the position.
Barrett, who read a short statement to reporters and didn’t take questions, said he would focus his attention on his mayoral duties through final Senate consideration of his nomination and meet “my obligations to the people of this great city.”
Barrett, the city’s fourth elected mayor since 1948, also expressed confidence about Milwaukee’s future.
“Yes, there are some challenges, some very, very serious challenges in front of us,” Barrett said. “But I have faith in the people here, and I have faith they are ready to meet these challenges.”
If Barrett is confirmed, Common Council President Cavalier Johnson would become acting mayor.
It would be the first time in Milwaukee history that both the mayor and county executive were Black. Johnson, 34, would join County Exec David Crowley, 35, as the heads of government in Wisconsin’s largest city and county.
Johnson praised Barrett’s “wealth of experience” and congratulated him on the appointment on behalf of the council.
“We will continue to work closely with the Mayor during this time of transition. Until he decides to step down he will remain in that position, and the business at City Hall will continue,” Johnson said.
First elected mayor in 2004, Barrett served in the U.S. House for a decade after a stint in the state Legislature. He ran unsuccessfully for guv in 2002, failing to win the Dem nomination, and then lost in 2010 against Republican Scott Walker. He also challenged Walker in the unsuccessful 2012 attempt to recall the GOP incumbent.
If Barrett resigns, city ordinance calls for a special election to be held “as promptly as possible” to fill the remainder of his term, which runs through 2024. Johnson would have the option to remain on the council as a non-voting member while serving as acting mayor.
Then-council President Marvin Pratt became acting mayor in 2004 after John Norquist stepped down three months before his term ended. Pratt, who became the city’s first Black mayor, then lost to Barrett in the April election that year.
See the White House release.