'I love this job:' Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett tackling COVID-19 response, re-election bid

MILWAUKEE -- With the April 7 election still happening, Milwaukeeans will vote to decide who should be mayor -- State Sen. Lena Taylor or incumbent Tom Barrett.

Tom Barrett

Barrett is currently leading a city rocked by the coronavirus pandemic.

"It is a challenge that his world has not experienced since World War II," Barrett said. "I am consumed by it, it's around the clock. I get up, I start working on it, I work until I go to bed."

Barrett's home work station happens to be just around the corner from where he grew up. He and his wife, Kris, now have four kids: "I raised a lot of kids, and so lots of Disney movies at the Barrett library here."

As for music for the mayor of the city that prides itself on hosting the world's largest music festival?

"It's only rock and roll, but I like it. You give me some rock and roll from the 60s and 70s and, obviously, that's my genre," Barrett said.

Barrett served in the state legislature starting in 1984, then the U.S. Congress. Since 2004, he's been Milwaukee's mayor, touting lowering homicide rates.

"My optimism for the future of the city is because of the city," said Barrett. "I see how resilient they are in all parts of the city, no matter what challenges they face."

Critics of Barrett challenge him on the streetcar project -- The Hop -- and the city's lead pipe problem. Still, at least 70% of voters backed his past re-elections.

Will he commit to serving a full term?

"I'm still on probation status, I don't know how much longer. I just love this job. So as long as the people will have me, I'm interested in having this job. I love this job," he said.

The 66-year-old failed in three bids to become Wisconsin's governor. Now, amid so many worries about the coronavirus, he's still looking to host the Democratic National Convention this August.

"I don't think it's going to be exactly what we want it to be. I think that's pretty obvious right now," said Barrett.

Who will take over city hall? Barrett has a large campaign war chest; he still had $693,000 in the bank this week.