Cavalier Johnson was sworn in for his first full term as mayor of Milwaukee during an inauguration ceremony at City Hall on April 16, marking both a new and continuing chapter of local leadership.

Addressing a crowd of Milwaukeeans, city council members, and various government officials, Mayor Johnson outlined his vision and dedication towards fostering a safer, more educated, and inclusive city.

“I am gratified by your encouragement, your belief in Milwaukee, and your belief in our leadership,” Mayor Johnson said after he vowed to uphold the Constitution and to faithfully discharge the duties of his office. “As I stand before you today offer another commitment. I pledge to lead this city to be more responsive to our residents to solve the challenges before us and before thinking about Milwaukee’s needs as well as Milwaukee’s ambitions.”

Johnson first became the mayor of Milwaukee on an interim basis in December 2021, following the resignation of Tom Barrett, who had been appointed as the U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg.

Serving as the Common Council President at the time, Johnson automatically ascended to the role of acting mayor according to the city’s rules. His appointment marked a significant moment as he became the second African American to serve as Milwaukee’s mayor.

Johnson’s initial tenure as interim mayor lasted until April 2022, when he was officially elected to the office during the COVID-19 pandemic. Securing his position with a significant majority of the vote, Johnson became the first African American elected as Milwaukee’s mayor.

His 2024 Inauguration speech detailed a strategic blueprint focused on responsiveness to citizen needs, enhanced safety measures, and a significant emphasis on education. Mayor Johnson said was committed to bridging the gap between City Hall and Milwaukee’s educational institutions.

“Education is far too important to me. And it’s too important to our community to sit casually by,” said Mayor Johnson. “I intend to engage with the Milwaukee Public Schools leadership and with private as well as parochial schools as well. I intend to work collaboratively to improve student achievement. Too often I hear these stories of people who select to move from Milwaukee because of our schools. I want people to move to Milwaukee because of our schools.”

His administration aims to strengthen ties with both public and private schools, to elevate student achievement, and make Milwaukee a desirable city for families, based on the quality of its schools.

Reflecting on his routine visits to classrooms across the city, Mayor Johnson promised to intensify his involvement in policy discussions and resource allocation to support educational advancement. This proactive approach in education paralleled his efforts in public safety, where the city has seen tangible improvements.

Milwaukee’s first-quarter crime statistics provided a backdrop for optimism, with homicides down by more than 30%, non-fatal shootings reduced by 25%, and an overall 10% decrease in serious crime compared to the previous year.

“In every major category, we see improvement,” the Mayor reported.

The data underscored the progress made under his leadership. However, Mayor Johnson was quick to point out that the work is far from over.

“Now is certainly no time to rest,” he said. “Too frequently we hear reminders of crimes, and the detrimental effects on the people that we serve. It is no consolation as someone whose car was targeted, to be told that there are 1,000 fewer vehicles that have been stolen in 2024 than this time two years ago. A safer city requires wide-ranging participation from government, and also from neighborhood organizations, from companies, from churches, and from individuals.

The Mayor highlighted ongoing and future initiatives to ensure sustained safety improvements across Milwaukee. These include revisiting public safety plans, and engaging the community through events like the upcoming Peace Week.

Addressing infrastructure, Mayor Johnson announced plans to focus intensely on specific neighborhoods, assessing different strategies to enhance living conditions and community value. One such initiative is the revitalization of the Northridge property on the northwest side, which will involve collaboration with local organizations and stakeholders to determine the best use for the area.

The Mayor also supported the reconfiguration of Interstate 794, viewing it as an opportunity to boost growth and improve city connectivity. He emphasized long-term thinking about the city’s infrastructure needs, focusing on the future Milwaukee that residents want for their children and grandchildren.

In terms of urban development, Mayor Johnson expressed his commitment to working with developers to enhance housing opportunities and stimulate economic activity. He emphasized the importance of affordable housing, ensuring that every current and future resident can find a home in Milwaukee.

As Milwaukee prepares to host the Republican National Convention in less than three months, Mayor Johnson spoke of the city’s growing hospitality sector and its potential to attract more visitors and events. He believes that the influx of visitors will contribute positively to Milwaukee’s economy and its reputation as a vibrant and welcoming city.

“I know that when people come to our city, they leave with good feelings about Milwaukee. And I believe that starts a virtuous cycle, an excellent word-of-mouth marketing campaign that attracts even more visitors and more opportunities, which leads to more jobs and more money flowing in our economy for residents on the ground here in our city,” Mayor Johnson.

Mayor Johnson painted a picture of optimism and unity, calling on all Milwaukeeans to join him in facing the city’s challenges.

“I am completely optimistic about the future of Milwaukee, not just my city, not just your city, but our city, the most consequential city in this entire state, a city in which roughly one in 10 Wisconsinites live,” said Mayor Johnson.

He felt more optimistic about Milwaukee today than ever before. The elements for success for the city were in place, and working together would pay huge dividends into the future.

With a clear vision and a call to collective action, Mayor Cavalier Johnson’s inauguration marked not only the beginning of his new term but also a renewed commitment to the progress and prosperity of Milwaukee.

“It’s Milwaukee’s time to shine,” he added.

© Photo

Lee Matz