Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett To Be Named US Ambassador To Luxembourg

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Long-time Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett will be nominated as the new U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg, according to the White House.

Barrett, 67, was elected to his fifth term as mayor in April 2020. He first became mayor in 2004, when he defeated incumbent Mayor Marvin Pratt.

Milwaukee Common Council President Cavalier Johnson will become mayor until a special election is called. The timing of the election is dependent on when Barrett is appointed.

In a statement from the White House announcing President Joe Biden’s intent to nominate Barrett, Biden praised Barrett for being the longest-serving “big city” mayor and for his environmental initiatives.

“He has led great lakes mayors in both Canada and the U.S. as the chair of the Great Lakes and Saint Lawrence Cities Initiative, and spearheaded multiple clean, green initiatives in the city to clean up rivers, parks, and brownfields,” the statement said.

During a brief press conference Wednesday afternoon, Barrett said he was honored by the nomination and humbled by the trust that Biden has placed in him.

“As a lifelong Milwaukeean, I will bring the values of our community to this new posting, values we share such as hard work, honesty and caring for others,” Barrett said, adding that, during his tenure, he’s proud of the work done on economic development, racial equity, city infrastructure and the pandemic response.

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“I’m confident about Milwaukee, and as you know, I care deeply about the future of our city,” Barrett said. “Yes, there are some very, very serious challenges, but I have faith in the people here, and I have faith that they are ready to meet these challenges.”

Barrett grew up in Milwaukee’s Washington Heights neighborhood. He was elected in 1984 to the state Assembly. In 1989, he was elected to the state Senate before he was elected in 1992 to Congress where he served for 10 years. Barrett ran for governor in 2002, but lost to Jim Doyle in the Democratic primary. Then, in 2010, he lost to former Republican Gov. Scott Walker. He also lost to Walker in the 2012 recall.

Barrett was reelected with more than 70 percent of the vote in 2008, 2012 and 2016.

Luxembourg is a western European nation with a population of approximately 620,000 people, slightly larger than Milwaukee’s, and is between France and Germany.

Barrett’s new position is subject to U.S. Senate confirmation.

J. Randolph Evans was the ambassador from 2018 to 2021.

Joe Biden taps Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett as Luxembourg ambassador

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Tom Barrett Watch: Here’s What You Suddenly Need to Know About Luxembourg

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News broke today that Mayor Tom Barrett, Milwaukee’s 17-year mayor and favorite khaki model, is on the verge of being nominated to be the U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg.

Luxembourg! There’s a country you hadn’t thought about in a while, if ever!

If this appointment on its face seems like a nice, easy (albeit cobblestoned) ride into retirement, the information we’re about to present to you about that country probably isn’t going to change your mind. I mean, this job appears to be even easier than being re-elected to mayor in Milwaukee, which only one elected mayor has failed to do in the past 105 years. (Socialist Daniel Hoan holds that distinction, losing his 1940 re-election bid to Carl Zeidler, and to make up for that slight we named the biggest landmark in the city after Hoan.)

OK, let’s get Luxembourg-y!

Luxembourg is really small. For a country. Its 633,622 residents (as estimated this spring) lived in an area just under 1,000 square miles wedged in between Belgium, France and the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate. That’s just a hair bigger than Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties combined. It’s the smallest European country but for a few of the city-states like Liechtenstein, Monaco and Vatican City. One little corner of it, the 50-acre Luxembourg American Cemetery, is home to Gen. George S. Patton’s final resting place. Luxembourg’s residents speak French, German or Luxembourgish, a distinct dialect that’s kind of a mashup of the two.

Luxembourg is wealthy. The country’s gross domestic product (the sum of its economic output) is about $62 billion, which is roughly on par with metro Milwaukee’s figure of about $60 billion. The residents of its capital, also called Luxembourg, earned a per-capita income of about $88,000 per capita on a purchasing power parity model that allows comparison across economies. That’s one of the highest in the world. Milwaukee’s figure for the same metric is about $58,000. The country’s economy is driven by financial services, accounting for more than a third of its business activity, followed by manufacturing and tourism. Agriculture is a small sliver of the economy.

Luxembourgers like to drink. As if the comparisons to the Milwaukee area were not strong enough already, there’s this. Luxembourg sells the most alcohol in Europe per capita, although that’s said to be influenced by the large number of tourists and folks who cross the border to buy booze. BUT! In a recent survey, more than a third of Luxembourgers said they get drunk at least once a month, the third-highest level of besottedness in Europe. (Watch out on the sidewalks of Denmark, folks.)

Not much happens there! No, you newshounds haven’t really missed much here. The Associated Press’ news feed for Luxembourg topics holds just a smattering of low-level stories, though the prime minister was hospitalized with COVID-19 this summer. The State Department describes relations with Luxembourg as very strong, so… yeah, this seems like a pretty sweet job? Hey, Mayor Barrett, enjoy the European vacay!

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