Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett confirmed as Ambassador to Luxembourg

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The U.S. Senate confirmed Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett as the next Ambassador to Luxembourg in a vote Thursday night, Dec. 16.

It's the most definitive step yet as the city transitions out of the Barrett era after his nearly 18 years in office.

Mayor Barrett said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer's chief of staff contacted him Thursday evening and said "it was about to get interesting" for Barrett in the Senate. Moments later he was unanimously confirmed on a voice vote.

The confirmation sets in motion the temporary transition of power to Common Council President Cavalier Johnson, and a special election will be held to elect the person that will finish serving Barrett's term.

That could cost money and take time, but plans have already been discussed over the past few months. During brief remarks Thursday night, Barrett said, "What I've said all along is I've wanted to have this transfer occur in such a way that it would be a special election that would add no cost for the taxpayers."

Barrett says the hope is for the special election to coincide with the already-scheduled April 5 spring election.

Barrett said, "We've had several months now to prepare the transition. I worked closely with President Johnson and his staff, worked with other members of the Common Council. I'm very, very confident that we'll have a smooth transition over the next few weeks."

But the timing requirement is vague. In the meantime, Common Council President Cavalier Johnson will serve as acting mayor. Barrett expects that changeover to take place before the end of the year. He says he'll speak with the State Department and White House Friday to get a better idea.

In his remarks, Barrett thanked the people of Milwaukee and said he's not running from something, he's running to something. He added he's eager to start the next chapter of his career, saying, "As many of you know, I absolutely, absolutely love being the mayor of Milwaukee. This is a dream come true to have this job. I love the people, I love this city and I feel unbelievably honored to have been able to serve this community for nearly 18 years as mayor."

The White House first announced Barrett's nomination on Aug. 25. 

Mayor Barrett delivered remarks shortly after his confirmation Thursday evening:

Barrett has served as the city's mayor since 2004.

This is a developing story. Stick with CBS 58 for updates on-air and online.

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