by Leon Todd
As a past mayoral candidate, our campaign theme was focused around clean government, clean elections and clean environment. With all of the past City Hall scandals, corruption and convictions, and more expected to come, we were convinced that the central underlying issue in this campaign should be one of clean government. Although not often talked about, this issue of clean, open, and transparent government is the underlying key to any forward progress making Milwaukee a magnet city where people, industry, commerce, and tourists are attracted to and where they want to live. All of the so-called concrete progress of downtown remains an empty cosmetic shell while a cancer of dishonesty in local and state government continues to plague any progress this city could have had in the recent past. Reversing the city population decline is central to lowering the property taxes that candidates are so glib to address with pious rhetoric but no real substance. Only a mayor that businesses, industry, and the general public can trust and be proud of can speak with the confidence, courage, and conviction about reversing the tainted and tarnished image of this city and promising a specter and vision of vitality and rebirth critical to our city’s future. Tom Barrett not only has a clean image, but also has moral character and ethical substance, a commodity needed to bring the polished mantle and reputation this city needs to the chief executive position at city hall. We need a person from the outside to finish the job of cleaning up the city, and we need a person who knows the scene in Washington D.C. to attract the financial resources that have been sorely lacking from an isolated City Hall caught up in its own intrigues and internal conflicts. This city has not received its fair share of federal revenue that should be allocated to our city. We need a mayor who can take the initiative and has the contacts to bring the limited dollars home and not leave any pile of money at the table in our nation’s capitol. We need a mayor who can be a role model for the next generation of leaders. Ethical standards and character are the only place to start when the mayor is expected to sell Milwaukee to a suspicious and reluctant investor group; to hawk visions of economic growth to a federal government that has been largely ignored by the current City Hall leadership; and to erase the stigma of racism and hyper-segregation seen by a state government that has watched its investment in Milwaukee squandered on political intrigue and illegal activity by a number of corrupt politicians.I would also expect Barrett’s decision-making process to be less encumbered with local cronyism and decisions to be made a bit more expeditiously and certainly more out in the open and above board than his opponent. A decisive mayor, not subject to the whims of whoever got to him last, is critical to moving this city forward. Healing the racial divide in a city that is described as racist, hyper-segregated, and downright backward in its politics is critical to ending middle class flight of all sorts — black, white, red, yellow, or brown flight. The only reason residency requirements are critical is because this is not a city where the middle class wants to live. Quite frankly, Barrett’s campaign and his leadership is directed more at healing the ethnic, racial and religious divides in this city than his opponent’s campaign. A lot of the racism which has been directed out of city hall can be expected to stop with Tom Barrett as our mayor. We can expect divisive messages and funding to cease with Tom Barrett’s leadership. Tom Barrett is critical for a new Milwaukee.