MILWAUKEE - On spring primary day in Wisconsin, the big race in Milwaukee was for mayor. Seven candidates were whittled to two. Cavalier Johnson and Bob Donovan will face off in the April general election.
Cavalier Johnson started his career in service at the YMCA, part of a pre-college scholarship program for low-income MPS Students. He graduated from UW-Madison and came home to work with the now-called Employ Milwaukee and later Mayor Tom Barrett's office.
After several failed aldermanic bids in the second district, Johnson was elected in 2016, ran unopposed in 2020 and was then tapped to serve as the Common Council president. Now acting mayor, it’s a position he hopes to make permanent this spring.
Bob Donovan served four terms as alderman for District 8, announcing he would not seek re-election in 2020. Donovan ran for Milwaukee mayor in 2016, losing to Tom Barrett, who was re-elected to a fourth term.
Voters cast ballots Tuesday in the first open mayor's race in Milwaukee in 18 years and only the fourth time since 1960. Milwaukee's mayor has great power and is also a figurehead there when the city mourns.
He or she oversees city departments, so the health department and COVID response, public works, plowing your streets and more. The mayor is in charge of drafting the budget, so where exactly the city's money goes. The Common Council then can change and vote on it. The mayor also helps recruit businesses and events.
"You’re starting to see a lot of great things in the city," said Omar Shaikh, 3rd Street Market Hall. "I mean, obviously you have the Fiserv Forum. We have a lot of the festivals here, a lot of great development that's happening, hotels continue to get built, and just a lot of really positive things, and so it's like, that next leader can really help push the boundaries of the potentials of the city."
"We want to make sure that the acting mayor or the future mayor is putting together budgets that actually are leading to thriving communities and aren’t starting with budgets that have nearly 50% of the city budget going to the police department," said Angela Lang, BLOC.
BLOC isn't endorsing anyone in this primary, saying the candidates wouldn't pledge to cut the police budget.