Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley delivered a virtual “Vision Address” on Monday afternoon. The 40-minute speech touched on racial equity (it’s long overdue), COVID-19 (it’s devastating), the Milwaukee County budget crisis (it’s bad), and much more.
“The truth is we face two pandemics: COVID-19 and racism,” Crowley said. “We need to change the way we serve the people of Milwaukee County to combat them both.”
You can watch Crowley’s entire speech HERE (it begins at the 15:20 mark). Also, here’s a transcript of the end of it, in which the County Executive details “five specific calls to action that you can do today.”
First, vote. There is an election tomorrow, Tuesday, August 11. There’s no better way to use your power to make change than to elect our leaders. Visit myvote.wi.gov to learn more about who’s on the ballot and how to vote safely.
Second, contact your state and federal legislators and tell them how much you value Milwaukee County services. Tell them we need more direct and flexible funding. We can’t invest in equity or health without more resources. You can find them also by going to myvote.wi.gov.
Third, engage in our budget process. Once again this year you can take Balancing Act, the county’s online budget simulation. Take 15 minutes and try your hand at balancing the 2021 County budget and share your priorities with us. I would also like to invite you to our virtual budget town halls that are happening on August 25 and September 2. Visit county.milwaukee.gov for more details.
Fourth, support your local small businesses in this difficult time. Small businesses are taking it on the chin due to the pandemic, and every customer helps them stay afloat. I encourage everyone who can to support the Milwaukee County economy by getting takeout from local restaurants or employing their creative services. I also challenge residents to be intentional with their dollars and shop at a Black-owned or person of color-owned Milwaukee County business. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 41% of Black-owned businesses across the country shut down between February and April. Much like the economic and health insecurities that have been magnified by the pandemic, so have the challenges for Black-owned businesses. Lack of financial saving, less access to capital, and funding gaps that existed prior to the pandemic have intensified the demographic disparities. Two Milwaukeeans created an app called MKE Black that is essentially a register for Black-owned dining, salons, and shopping in the county. You can help your county and help keep Milwaukee entrepreneurs in business by lending your support.
Lastly, take a look at the people around you, especially at your leadership tables. How many people of color do you see? Whose voice is the loudest? How many different opinions do you seek out? Think hard about whether the people who make the decisions in your sphere of influence represent the full diversity of Milwaukee County. Think, and most importantly make an intentional plan about what you are going to do to make the needed changes to achieve equity.
It is in this spirit of intentionality that we’ve decided to embark on a path towards racial equity here in Milwaukee County. Our goals are ambitious, but by working together and making sure we do our part to change the county, we will achieve racial equity. We will turn Milwaukee County into the healthiest county in the state, and build back better from the public crisis we’re in today. That is our vision for Milwaukee County, and with your help we can make that vision a reality. Thank you and God bless.