Sen. Lena Taylor Announces Bid For Milwaukee Mayor

Taylor Challenging Longtime Mayor Tom Barrett

State Sen. Lena Taylor announces her bid for Milwaukee Mayor
State Sen. Lena Taylor announces her bid for Milwaukee Mayor on Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2019 outside her home on the city’s north side. Alana Watson/WPR

Democratic state Sen. Lena Taylor, of Milwaukee, has announced her bid for Milwaukee mayor.

With her announcement, Taylor joins a field of people looking to unseat current Democratic Mayor Tom Barrett, who is expected to run.

At a press conference Tuesday outside her home on the city’s north side, Taylor said she was running for the office to build collaboration and help the city progress.

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“I don’t like a Milwaukee that blocks progress instead of figuring out how to connect hands and build collaboration,” she said. “I refuse to sit on the sidelines and continue to let happen.”

Taylor called Milwaukee’s leadership corrupt, stating, “When you blatantly know you are the worst and you specifically do not address it at a pace that suggests urgency, I call that a cancer that needs to be eradicated.”

Taylor was born in Milwaukee and graduated from Rufus King High School. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and her law degree at Southern Illinois University–Carbondale. Before joining the Legislature, Taylor served as the district commissoner of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District from 2010 to 2014.

Taylor was elected to the state Assembly in a special election in 2003. She was first elected to the state Senate in 2004 and has served ever since.

Taylor faced scrutiny in 2018 for behavior both in and out of work. Democratic leaders removed Taylor from her seat on the Legislature’s powerful budget committee after an employee complaint led to an investigation that found she had bullied her staff. In a separate incident, Taylor was cited by Milwaukee Police for using a racial insult during an altercation with a bank teller.

If elected, Taylor hopes to create a Milwaukee for everyone

“Everyone should have the opportunity to have a Milwaukee for all. We are not just downtown,” she said, adding “this is not my Milwaukee, and I will not sit on the sidelines and watch us expect to take this as our status quo.”

Barrett has been Mayor of Milwaukee since first being elected in 2004.

Barrett served in the state Assembly after being elected in 1984. In 1989, he was elected to the state Senate before he was elected in 1992 to Congress where he served for 10 years. Barrett ran for governor in 2002, but lost to Jim Doyle in the Democratic primary. Then, in 2010, he lost to former Republican Gov. Scott Walker. He also lost to Walker in the 2012 recall.

Barrett was re-elected with more than 70 percent of the vote in 2008, 2012 and 2016.

He was raised in Milwaukee, and graduated from college and law school at UW-Madison.

Barrett has yet to announce he is running for re-election.

Other candidates running for the position include Bay View Alderman Tony Zielinski and Paul Rasky.

The election will be held Tuesday, April 7, 2020.