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Feb 22, 2024

In this week’s episode, host and NewDEAL CEO Debbie Cox Bultan speaks with Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson. Mayor Johnson was drawn to public service at a very young age while participating in a YMCA pre-college and service program for low-income youth in Milwaukee public schools. Now, he’s making history as the city’s first elected Black mayor, bringing his diverse perspective and his experiences as a lifelong Milwaukeean to his decision-making and leadership. Since taking office in 2021, Mayor Johnson has prioritized public safety and championed meaningful opportunities for the youth in his community. Debbie and Mayor Johnson discuss how federal investments from the Biden-Harris administration during the COVID-19 pandemic have allowed him to invest in housing and workforce development initiatives, and how he has prioritized attracting and retaining talent. Tune in to learn about Johnson’s thoughts on how to best influence swing voters in Wisconsin and his vision for Milwaukee’s future.


  • [01:03] Introducing Mayor Cavalier Johnson.

  • [02:26] His early interest in politics in elementary school, falling in love with service, and observing the events of 9/11. 

  • [05:46] Mayor Johnson’s overarching goal of building a safer city.

  • [07:02] Mentorship and youth service organizations in Milwaukee.

  • [09:25] Declaring reckless driving as a public health emergency in the city of Milwaukee.

  • [12:03] How Mayor Johnson has been able to leverage federal funding from the Biden-Harris administration to uplift his community. 

  • [15:24] What is necessary for Democrats to be successful in Wisconsin. 

  • [18:12] Ideas for how young people in Milwaukee and Wisconsin can hear stories of Democratic success.

  • [20:12] How Mayor Johnson’s lived experience influences his leadership.

  • [24:10] His choice to spend a lot of time in schools across Milwaukee.

  • [27:10] A vision for Milwaukee’s next 178 years after celebrating its 178th birthday.