A transcription of their interview is below.
Stephanie Grady: This is not your first time (going after) this post, you did this six years ago, so what’s different this time?
Bob Donovan: I think the big difference is just in what Milwaukee is going through, quite frankly. 2016 Milwaukee is nowhere near where it is in 2022. (I’m) talking specifically about the extreme public safety challenges the city is faced with, and the fiscal challenges that back in 2016 they weren’t as pronounced as they are now, and whoever is the mayor is going to have to deal with both of them immediately.
Grady: You were on common council for 20 years. What can you accomplish as mayor that you couldn't do on the council in 20 years?
Donovan: A lot of things. First of all, the mayor sets the pace. The mayor sets the agenda and the priorities of the city. Often times I would argue with Mayor Barrett about what I felt should be the priorities were not his priorities. The mayor sets the pace that’s, number one. Second of all, the mayor has the clout to get things done. He sets the budget and very seldom does the budget get amended. Basically what the mayor wants and the mayor pushes through he gets.
Grady: If you were to become mayor, what do you want?
Donovan: I want a safer city for all of Milwaukee. I want criminals to be held accountable for their crimes. I want great schools for our kids – all schools – public, private, charter. I want good jobs for this community, good family-supporting jobs.
Grady: Homicide are up 113% over last year, car thefts up 130% over 2019, so how did we get here?
Donovan: I remember a city of Milwaukee, born and raised here, a city of Milwaukee that was considered one of the safest big cities. Those days are long gone. Certainly, we lost a lot of good-paying blue collar jobs that were able to support families, but in addition to that we have seen in many instances a deterioration of our families and what the virtues and values that we’re teaching our children.
Grady: What do you think actually works in the day-in and day-out helping to get kids back onto the right path helping to improve those family units?
Donovan: I strongly believe the faith community will be critical in improving the stability and the order and safety in our neighborhoods. So I envision our police department working hand in hand with our faith community to patrol our neighborhoods, to do outreach on people who might be on the verge.
Grady: You’re a very faith-filled man. If I’m not mistaken at one point you were considering going into the priesthood.
Donovan: Yes, yes at one time, yeah.
Grady: You’ve been retired for not even two years, technically: What made you want to jump back in, are you bored?
Donovan: I did a little twiddling of my thumbs and said, "Geez, I’m not ready (to) move on," and then of course Mayor Barrett made the announcement that he was leaving and I turned to Kathy and said, "We’ve got to do this." It’s a huge challenge without a doubt, and I am definitely the underdog, but I will tell you this: I had to do this and believe strongly that, if we’re given the opportunity tackle these problems, we will get Milwaukee moving again.