Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas recently announced his candidacy for mayor of the city, citing his career in law enforcement, which has spanned two decades and, he said, has given him experience in working with the public and serving his community. In an interview with Madison365, he said he values family, community and understands the importance of paying it forward.
“It is my goal and intent for this candidacy to inspire some young boy or some young girl in this community, who, like me, grew up in a single-parent household,” Lucas said. “Or in a situation where there was no parent in the household or a situation where they did not know where their next meal would come from. I want to inspire hope and faith in those young people that if Mr. Lucas can accomplish the things that he did with his life, then that we too can accomplish anything we set our hearts and our minds to, if we just go out and work hard, be dedicated, be not discouraged, and stay true to our dreams. And that’s what I hope that this candidacy does for the children of our community.”
Lucas intends to run in the upcoming special election to replace Tom Barrett, who has been nominated to be the United States Ambassador to Luxembourg. When the US Senate approves that nomination, Common Council President Cavalier Johnson will become acting mayor and the city will hold a special election shortly thereafter to fill out the remainder of Barrett’s term. Johnson has also announced that he intends to run, and several other candidates are expected to enter the race as well. It’s not yet clear when that special election will take place.
Lucas was born and raised in Milwaukee. He is a product of the Milwaukee Public Schools and graduated from Rufus King High School. He attended Marquette University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology and law studies. He has been in Milwaukee his whole life and says he has a lot to offer to his city.
“I am a product of Milwaukee,” said Lucas. “I was born in the hillside housing projects. It’s noted for being one of the areas where people that migrated from the south to the north during the Great Migration of the 1950s, where our people settled in. I was born to a single mother, raised by a single mother. Shortly after my birth, we move into an area just west of where I was born. That’s where I began my early formulation.”
Lucas’ mother passed away early in his life, and his grandmother from Alabama came to Milwaukee to raise him and his siblings. When he was 12 years old, he had an encounter with a police officer in Milwaukee where he was almost accused of a crime he didn’t commit. This changed him and pushed him to learn more about law enforcement.
“In that moment, I knew what I wanted to do with my life,” said Lucas. “When one thinks about the encounters that Black and brown men and women have today with law enforcement, versus the encounter that I had as a young child, what is different about the times? It was trust in law enforcement in the days when I was growing up. And law enforcement trusted the communities that they served. Contrast that to where we are today where there is a lot of mistrust in communities of color and law enforcement that serves those communities, because of occurrences that have happened in our communities.”
He says that as mayor, he will address issues within the community including mental health and well-being and enforce humane treatment of jail inmates in Milwaukee. He wants to help Milwaukee residents feel safe and secure in their neighborhoods.
“I’m running because I love this city,” said Lucas. “I’m running because I have the critical life experiences and the vision, to help the city of Milwaukee rise to its fullest potential. I’m running because I love this city. I’m running because I have the critical life experiences and the vision, to help the city of Milwaukee to its fullest potential. I have a vision of a city where every child like me from every corner of this city has an opportunity to unlock the limitless possibility this world has to offer them. I have a vision for a city where from Bayview to Harambee, from River West to Westwood. Neighborhoods across the city of Milwaukee, where people of all ages and persuasions are safe walking their streets, driving their cars and enjoying their parks.”
His plans to improve Milwaukee stem from his commitment to civic engagement. In 2002, he was appointed the Major League Baseball’s Supervisor of Security, and later served as the Chief Liaison of Security & Invasions. He has worked in offices and communities throughout the city of Milwaukee.
“I have a vision where growth, equality and opportunity can be found in every single neighborhood. I have a vision where the health of every single resident is nurtured and cared for. And I have a vision where your side of the aisle matters far less than your willingness to roll up your sleeves and make a difference in our community,” he said. “This is my passion. This is my vision for Milwaukee that is rising. And I feel that I have the critical life experiences, the ability, and a willingness to work with every like-minded entity, individual and organization to bring that vision to life and to help Milwaukee rise to its fullest potential.”