Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has resigned as mayor of Milwaukee effective at 5 pm Wednesday, making Common Council President Cavalier Johnson acting mayor until a special election can be held.
President Joe Biden appointed Barrett as Ambassador to Luxembourg in August, and the US Senate confirmed the nomination last week. Barrett said he expects to be sworn in Thursday.
“I have absolutely, absolutely loved being mayor of this great city,” Barrett said in brief remarks before officially signing a letter of resignation.
Johnson will become the city’s second Black mayor. Marvin Pratt was acting mayor for four months in 2004 after the resignation of John Norquist. No Black person has been elected mayor in the city’s history; in fact, only one Black person has been elected mayor of any Wisconsin city: Frances Huntley Cooper in Fitchburg in 1991.
Johnson is one of eight candidates to who have taken the first steps to replace Barrett, including Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas. Barrett’s resignation today ahead of a December 28 deadline should give the Common Council enough time to set a special election to coincide with the already-scheduled spring elections. A primary in February would winnow the field to two candidates for the April 5 general election.