Johnson, community reflect on new era in Milwaukee Black leadership

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The city of Milwaukee is now led by a Black mayor and police chief, with the county now led by a Black county executive and sheriff, marking a historic moment for the community and one some believe can be an opportunity.

Cavalier Johnson was sworn in as Milwaukee acting mayor on Dec. 23. He joins Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey Norman, Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley and Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas as local leaders in public service executive positions.

Johnson recognized the importance of his being a Black mayor.

"I think it's incredibly important," Johnson told reporters at a food and clothing distribution event Friday, Dec. 24. "There are too many kids, particularly too many young African American kids, Latino kids, kids of color in this city who have not been able to see somebody who looks like them in a position of power in the city of Milwaukee. I'm glad that we were able to elect my friend David Crowley as county executive, but in the mayor's office that just hasn't happened."

Some community members agree.

"I think for the youth it's always good for them to see like-looking leaders," Darrell Pate, the co-owner of 2 Kings Barbershop inside Sherman Phoenix, said.

Chantez Hines-Perry, who was waiting at the barbershop, echoed that sentiment.

"It's good to see us represented in all statuses, in all different ways," Hines-Perry said. "So I think it's a good thing for Black people and hopefully it continues even further."

Public safety, specifically reckless driving and gun violence, remain top issues in the community, and others are cautiously optimistic about how Johnson, Norman, Crowley and Lucas can affect policy.

"It might make it a little better," Alice Jackson told CBS 58 outside Sherman Phoenix. "But I don't know, the way folks are today, I can't say."

Other community leaders hope the city can take advantage of this moment in the city and county's history.

"I see it as an opportunity," Rev. Greg Lewis of Souls to the Polls said in an interview. "And we should latch onto these leaders and work to build a Milwaukee that we all can be proud of."

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