Preparations, excitement ramp up ahead of Pres. Biden Milwaukee visit

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Crews began preparing the interior and exterior of the Pabst Theater Friday ahead of President Joe Biden’s town hall event on Feb. 16.

Wells Street around the venue is set to have closures through Tuesday. Officials say more traffic closures are expected to be announced next week.

Milwaukee Democrats say they are excited for the presidential visit.

“When we announced it to the party folks here in the community, people were just jumping for joy,” Democratic Party of Milwaukee County Chair Chris Walton told CBS 58.

Walton said Milwaukee being among Biden’s first presidential visits holds special significance.

“The fact that President Biden has made Milwaukee a priority, his first official visit is to Milwaukee and I think it shows a lot, it says a lot, any time the president comes but this is an extra special moment knowing it’s his first trip.”

Walton said he expects to hear how the president’s agenda will connect with the city and state.

The event will be televised on CNN, helping raise Milwaukee’s profile with a national audience.

“We’re hopeful President Biden coming here to Milwaukee puts Milwaukee on the national stage and shines a spotlight on us and lets us show off a little bit next week,” Steve Baas, the Senior VP for Government Affairs at the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, said in an interview.

Baas and others in the downtown area hope the visit can be a shot in the arm for a community reeling from the economic effects of coronavirus.

“It’s nice to have a big event like this that generates attention,” Baas said. “It brings people into the city. That’s going to generate business downtown, the kind we haven’t seen in quite a few months.”

Meanwhile, Voces de la Frontera is planning to hold an event on Tuesday ahead of the president’s visit to draw attention to immigration and covid relief policy priorities.

“We are looking to Democrats to deliver,” Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Voces’ executive director told CBS 58.

The main policy demands the organization wants to highlight is the inclusion of immigrant tax payers, including those without legal status, in the pandemic relief bill currently being considered in Congress. The other is for the legalization of essential workers and their families in the second budget reconciliation bill.

Neumann-Ortiz said Latinos were important in helping Biden win Wisconsin and ultimately the presidency. They say he’s made good policy decisions in the early days of his term, but want to hold him and Democrats accountable to their campaign promises.

“We have to ensure that people participate in sending that message to our congressional representatives and the White House. Voting is not enough, it’s a part of it but we have to remind people that they were voted to make change.”

The town hall will air on CNN on Tuesday, Feb. 16 at 8 p.m.

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