Race for mayor: Barrett, Donovan meet for debate focused on crime, Milwaukee's financial health

MILWAUKEE -- Incumbent Tom Barrett and challenger Bob Donovan met for a debate on Wednesday afternoon, March 23rd, ahead of the April 5th election. They fielded questions focusing heavily on Milwaukee's financial health.

"We have some horrendous statistics that I don't need to bore you all with but over the mayor's tenure, sadly, violent crime has gone up 99 percent," Donovan said.

"Last year we saw an increase in the number of homicides, but prior to that year, we had four of the six lowest homicide years that we saw in this city in a generation," Barrett said.

Candles for Milwaukee's 145 homicide victims in 2015

Donovan has vowed to spend $16 million to hire several hundred police officers if elected.

"The alderman said 'yes, lets hire all these police officers.' This is a job interview. You've got to say where the money is coming from. You can't just say you'll find it," Barrett said.

Bob Donovan

"Let's take a look at the MPS budget, OK? Maybe there is a way to consolidate the police and their safety program together. $16 million -- there's a way," Donovan said.

Barrett said the MPS budget cannot be used in that way.


"We cannot take the money from the schools to augment our police department," Barrett said.

Donovan, while supporting downtown development, sans streetcar, continued his focus on residential neighborhoods.

"Those are the issues -- the crimes, the deterioration that continues really absent any kind of plan to deal with that," Donovan said.

Tom Barrett

"The annual budgets is where I have inserted over $30 million over the last three years to deal with the foreclosure crisis. He votes no. It's where we put $20 million for neighborhood libraries. He votes no," Barrett said.

To that last charge, Donovan retorted that he has voted no to Barrett's budget proposals in the past, when he felt it short-changed the police department's budget.

The election is April 5th.