Mayor Tom Barrett resigns from office, Common Council President Cavalier Johnson becomes acting mayor

December 30, 2021

State Senator Lena Taylor ends campaign for Lt. Gov., announces run for mayor

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett resigned on December 22, 2021, handing over authority to Common Council President Cavalier Johnson, who assumes the role of acting mayor until the city’s spring election.

The transition, which was effective at 5:00 p.m., came after the U.S. Senate’s unanimous approval of Barrett’s nomination to become the U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg. Barrett signed the oath to that office on the morning of December 23 at the federal courthouse in Milwaukee.

U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman swore in Barrett to the new position, saying the event marked a historic occasion for the former Mayor and for Milwaukee.

“Now he’s going on to be a diplomat,” Judge Adelman said. “He’s obviously well qualified for this position, for I think everyone who has worked with Tom has long regarded him as being very diplomatic.”

Judge Adelman noted that the courtroom where the ceremony took place was the same one where Barrett began his career in law and public service as an intern, and then a law clerk.

At exactly 5:01 p.m. on December 22, 2021 about a half hour after former Mayor Tom Barrett departed City Hall, Cavalier Johnson became acting Mayor of the City of Milwaukee. It was the first change of office since 2004.

Followed by a small entourage that included his son Oliver and staff members, he made the ceremonial walk across the second floor, from the offices of the Common Council to the office of the Mayor. Surrounded by TV cameras that documented the event, Johnson answered a few questions, making his first public statements as acting Mayor.

“I’ve been serving this community for 20 years, and have the opportunity to walk back into this office that I have wanted to serve for a number of years. After all the experiences that I’ve had growing up in the city, living in 53206, I’m ready. I’m ready to serve the city. I’m ready to be the Mayor. I think that the next Mayor of the city is going to have to be able to work collaboratively with the Common Council. I’ve been able to do that in my time. The Mayor of this city is going to have to be able to make sure that they’re able to send a message of hope to the people who live in this city, especially in the most depressed neighborhoods here. I’ve done that in 53206. And the next Mayor of this city is going to have to be able to work with our neighborhoods in order to solve the most pressing issues that we have. And I’m ready to do that.”

With the resignation of Barrett, the City charter immediately promotes the Common Council President to acting Mayor. Johnson has the complete authority of the Mayor’s office, in addition to his job as Common Council President. However, he is restricted from voting on Common Council matters.

Over the weekend, State Senator Lena C. Taylor (D-Milwaukee) suspended her campaign for Lt. Governor; Taylor made the decision to join the race for City of Milwaukee Mayor. In response to her choice, Taylor made the following statement:

“I had to follow my heart, plain and simple. I love the city and have worked my entire life to make it better. I see the promise and the pain of Milwaukee. I see a pathway to the city we can become, and I am unafraid to think boldly, and work with others to get us there”.