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Mayor Cavalier Johnson

Inaugural Remarks

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

As Prepared for Delivery

To all Milwaukeeans, my friends, my colleagues, thank you so much.  I am gratified by your encouragement, your belief in Milwaukee, and your belief in our leadership.

I made a pledge moments ago to uphold the constitution and faithfully discharge the duties of my office.  As I stand before you today, I offer another commitment.  I pledge to lead this city to be more responsive to our residents, to solve the challenges before us, and to be forward-thinking about Milwaukee’s needs and ambitions.

We can define our future.  Our ideas, actions, and hard work ahead will make a significant difference in Milwaukee in the years to come.  By partnering with more individuals and more groups, we will amplify and improve our efforts, assuring equitable and inclusive outcomes.

Looking forward, we will continue to build our economy, to grow our city, to continue our upward trend toward greater safety, and to improve educational outcomes for all our young people.

Yes, I am very intentionally citing education.  I intend to break from decades of disconnection between City Hall and our schools.  Education is far too important to me – too important to our community – to sit by casually.

I intend to engage with the Milwaukee Public School’s leadership and with private and parochial schools.  I intend to work collaboratively to improve student achievement. Too often I hear people are leaving Milwaukee because of our schools.  I want people to come to Milwaukee because of our schools.

I am a frequent visitor to local classrooms, and I will continue that.  What I intend to add is greater attention to policy, priorities, and resource deployment.  I will join the strategic discussions about what is best for our city’s students.

That type of approach has worked to improve safety in Milwaukee.  We have thoughtfully implemented traffic safety strategies, encompassing both accountability and prevention, to deter reckless driving. We will do more in the months ahead.

Violent crime and serious property crime are trending in the right direction. Earlier this morning we shared the latest quarterly crime numbers. In every major category we see improvement.  Through the first quarter of this year, homicides are down more than 30-percent, non-fatal shootings down 25-percent, and overall serious crime is down 10-percent when compared to the first quarter of last year.  And these results build on the significant success we have seen over the past two years.  Milwaukee is, without question, a safer city.

Yet, this is no time to rest.  Too frequently we hear reminders of crime’s detrimental effects on the people we serve. It is no consolation to someone whose car was targeted to be told that about one-thousand fewer vehicles have been stolen in 2024 than at this same time two years ago.

A safer city requires wide-ranging participation from government, neighborhood organizations, companies, churches, and individuals.  We are engaging young people. We will reprise Peace Week next month.  We are revisiting public safety plans.  And we will continue to measure our success.

The goals I’ve set are clear.  Crime must be rare; neighborhoods must be safe. And public safety concerns must not affect the choices people and businesses make to locate in Milwaukee.

My duties for the people of this city encompass more than addressing problems and meeting service expectations. It is my job to set direction, establish budgets, appoint department leaders.  As I take on those tasks, I always think about the future. 

Going forward you will see more positive additions to our infrastructure, increased housing opportunities, and more economic activity. I am working with developers, and not against developers, to grow our city.  I will support affordable and workforce housing so every Milwaukeean can afford to live here, and every future Milwaukeean can find a home in our city.

And, where it is appropriate, we will try new approaches.  We will soon announce an effort to focus resources, intensely, on specific neighborhoods.  We will work with existing local organizations and measure outcomes to see whether different strategies can improve lives and add value. To test this proposition, we will start with one neighborhood on the south side, and one on the north side.

As opportunities arise, we are advancing positive outcomes.  Take, for example, the old Northridge property.  As the site is cleared, we will engage neighbors, developers and other interested parties to determine what’s best for that vital section of our northwest side.

I support reconfiguration of Interstate 794 in downtown.  The project offers a chance to maximize growth and investment while keeping transportation connectivity.  The key is not simply thinking about our commutes today, but, instead, what our city can be tomorrow.

At my direction, we are moving forward with additional outreach to new Milwaukee residents, especially those from other countries who are choosing to make our city their home. We will be ready to provide information, connections, and municipal services at a location that is both convenient and accessible.

For nearly 200 years, Milwaukee has welcomed new people from near and far.  Often, they faced big challenges, but, consistently, they have contributed so much to our culture and our economy.  I want their adjustment to Milwaukee to be as smooth as possible.

Good things are happening. We are expanding the hospitality sector of our economy – physically growing and drawing in new visitors with prominent events.  In less than three months, we will be highlighting Milwaukee for the entire world as the Republican National Convention gets underway. I know, when people come to our city, they leave with good feelings about Milwaukee.  That starts a virtuous cycle, an excellent word-of-mouth marketing campaign, that attracts more visitors.

Companies are choosing Milwaukee.  Employment is available to a greater extent than most of us have seen in our lifetimes.  And success in our economy is something I work to sustain.

Milwaukee is a welcoming city – welcoming to visitors and welcoming to new residents who want to build their lives here.  We are also welcoming to new ideas and approaches that set us ahead and set us apart. I embrace innovation and I expect innovative ideas from my team.  We will continue to show Milwaukee is a cutting-edge city – meeting and exceeding the accolades we receive.

Make no mistake, I am optimistic.  The elements for success are in place.  The work we are undertaking - together - will pay huge dividends. It is Milwaukee’s time to shine.

A new term. New challenges. Let’s get to work.

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