Barrett focused on jobs, safety in mayoral bid

    Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is focusing his re-election campaign this year on jobs and public safety, even as pundits and political observers wonder about his chances of taking on Gov. Scott Walker in a potential statewide recall election.
    “Clearly we are going to focus on creating jobs and retaining and attracting businesses throughout the entire city, so that’s one plank if you will,” Barrett said in an interview with WisPolitics. “The second is to continue the work we’ve begun on crime reduction.”
    Barrett says visitors often remark on how nice Milwaukee is, but he admits there is a need to address the challenges facing the city, namely jobs and public safety.
    The mayor said there are several sectors where the city can achieve job growth, pointing to health care, computer software, water, and food production as places of “relative strength.” However, in particular, Barrett would like to focus on advanced manufacturing.
    In the WisPolitics interview, Barrett emphasized his focus is on the mayoral race, despite speculation he is eyeing a rematch in a potential recall election against Walker.
    "I’m running for mayor right now, and I’m very pleased to be running for mayor," Barrett said.
    Pressed on how the speculation could impact his mayoral race, Barrett said the timeline for a recall election isn’t clear enough to tell.
    "Again, I stress I am running for re-election as mayor and there will certainly be a time when an election is ordered, or certified, but until then I’m focusing on a job that I like,” he said.
    Barrett pushed back on criticisms that he used some of the tools from Walker’s reforms in order to balance the city’s budget. Barrett said he had a history of working through the collective bargaining process in his time as mayor and said his preference would be for the state to return to that setup.
    "What people don’t point out though, when they’re criticizing me, is this city took huge, huge cuts in shared revenue, in recycling money, in money for local roads," Barrett said. "We cannot print money at the local level and so we have to find a way to balance the budget.”
    Barrett said the city had not had to lay off large numbers of employees like other major cities, something he took credit for.
    “That’s happened not by accident, it’s happened because I’ve managed the resources of this city in a very responsible fashion, and my hope is I can continue to do that.”
    The mayor added that he had “an obligation” to the residents of the city to maintain services without massive layoffs.
    See more from the interview at

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