Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett To Be Named US Ambassador To Luxembourg
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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What to know about Luxembourg and its connections to Wisconsin (beyond Barrett being its new ambassador)
Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett is expected to be nominated as the ambassador to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg by President Joe Biden.
If Barrett is confirmed by the Senate, he will step down from his mayoral duties to take on this new role. The United States embassy is located in the country’s capital, Luxembourg City.
Here are a few things to know about Luxembourg — including some Wisconsin connections.
More:Milwaukee leaders and others react to Mayor Tom Barrett’s Luxembourg ambassador nomination
More:Barrett would be latest in a series of Wisconsin political figures to serve as ambassadors
The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is a small country located between France, Germany and Belgium.
With an area of just under 1,000 square miles — smaller than Rhode Island — Luxembourg is one of the smallest countries in Europe.
Luxembourg has three official languages: German, French and Luxembourgish.
Luxembourg ambassadorship goes back to 1903
The U.S. has had ambassadors to Luxembourg since 1903, though at various times it’s been a dual role, serving the Netherlands or Belgium at the same time.
The U.S. retained those relations even during World War II, when Germany occupied Luxembourg and its government moved to Canada and then London.
The most recent ambassador to Luxembourg, under former President Donald Trump, was Republican National Convention delegate Randy Evans of Georgia.
Luxembourg’s population is not much larger than Milwaukee’s
Luxembourg is home to about 630,000 people.
The city of Milwaukee has a population of just under 580,000.
There is a Luxemburg, Wisconsin, named after the country
Wisconsin has both a village and a town of Luxemburg, located in Kewaunee County.
According to “The Romance of Wisconsin Place Names” by Robert Gard, immigrants from Luxembourg who’d settled north of Milwaukee requested a post office in 1857 and asked for it to be called “Luxembourg.” A group of settlers from Belgium, living about 82 miles north, submitted the name “Belgium” for their post office around the same time. Somehow, the names were flipped, and the Belgians’ town was named Luxemburg and vice versa.
A blog specializing in Kewaunee County history casts doubt on part of the story, however, noting that while some settlers in what’s now Luxemburg may have put down that they were from Germany or Belgium on naturalization applications, the main founding families were from Luxembourg. Some may have put other countries on their paperwork because Belgium was under Germany’s or Belgium’s rule at various times.
Wisconsin has one of the largest populations of Luxembourger immigrants in the U.S., and celebrates the country’s culture
According to Travel Wisconsin, the state’s large number of Luxembourg immigrants and their descendants made it the natural home for the Luxembourg American Cultural Society & Center, which opened in 2009 in the village of Belgium, between Milwaukee and Sheboygan.
The Cultural Society publishes a newsletter called the Luxembourg American Gazette. Their website states that their mission is “to preserve the roots of our heritage and nurture the leaves of ongoing relationships between Luxembourg and America.”
The Cultural Center in Belgium is home to a museum and a research center specializing in Luxembourg history.
This month, the Luxembourg Fest of America in Belgium celebrated its 35th year. A Fest Duke and Duchess are named each year in honor of Luxembourg being the only Grand Duchy — a country ruled by a Grand Duke or Duchess — in the world.
Barrett was in attendance this year.
Earlier this year, a virtual trade mission took place between companies in Luxembourg and Wisconsin, which allowed startups and businesses from both locales to look into expanding in the other’s area with funding opportunities available.
The Milwaukee Brewers’ retractable stadium roof came from Luxembourg
The retractable roof of American Family Field, home of the Milwaukee Brewers, was made from steel that’s manufactured only in Luxembourg, according to an Associated Press report from the time of construction.
Wisconsin is the only place in the U.S. to find Luxembourg-brewed Bofferding beer
Wisconsin is the only place you can find the pilsner and ales made at Bofferding’s 225-year-old Luxembourg brewery.
The brewery adheres to the Reinheitsgebot, or German Purity Law, in which only three ingredients are allowed in beer: barley, hops and water.
Playing off that idea, a 2019 Bofferding ad campaign featured naked models cavorting in scenic Wisconsin outdoor locations.
“The idea is that because Bofferding is a 100% natural beer, it’s best enjoyed in a 100% natural state,” said Rob Ebert, marketing director for Ansay International, which represents Bofferding Brewery.
Here’s a list of where you can find Bofferding beer in Wisconsin.