Minority community groups weigh in on issues they'd like mayoral candidates to tackle

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Community groups are already laying the groundwork for what they'd like to see the Milwaukee mayoral candidates address.

UWM professor emeritus Mordecai Lee says one of the biggest developments during Mayor Tom Barrett's tenure is the city of Milwaukee has become a majority minority city, with Black and Hispanic populations experiencing enormous growth. "That may well be the defining characteristic of the race. In other words, with the changes in demography of the city, will the new mayor reflect that in some way?"

But the Black Chamber of Commerce's Ruben Hopkins says he doesn't care who the mayor is, only what they will do. "We need brave leadership, and I don't know who's going to step up and provide it."

He says the Black community is still grappling with issues like incarceration, low home ownership rates and slow business creation.

He doesn't want someone to just take Mayor Barrett's place if nothing will change. Hopkins said, "If you're not going to move the needle, then who cares who the mayor is, because nothing's going to change. And that's the struggle we go through year after year."

Darryl Morin of Forward Latino says issues that affect everyone are the federal funding and public safety.

He says before the pandemic, many Latinos lived below the poverty line despite one of the highest workforce participation rates in the state. Morin said, "We need a mayor who is going to uplift and upscale this motivated workforce so that they could move into the middle class and beyond."

And Morin says the Hispanic community is the fastest-growing population in the city. "So there is no way of moving forward without working in partnership with the Hispanic community. It's a relationship that will be mutually beneficial to everyone."

Dr. Lee says while national politics can be performative at times, city governing is often more about results. "I suspect some of the citizens are going to be judging the candidates based on who would really be able to manage the city, who would be a good public administrator."

Dr. Lee says the field of candidates could balloon to as many as 20 people. If a primary is held, the top two performers will move on to the special election. He says a big field could attract would-be candidates who figure even a modest primary performance could push them through.

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