This is the first in a series of interviews I have been planning to do with local leaders and newsmakers in order to showcase exciting and important things happening in our city. Jonathan Brostoff is a representative for District 19 in our state legislature, first elected in 2014. As Rep. Brostoff is a passionate and vocal advocate for the City of Milwaukee, I thought he would be an excellent choice to kick off this series with. Below are excerpts from our conversation:
I was born and raised here. The more I traveled the more I grew to appreciate Milwaukee and decided I wanted to stay. It felt like home. I like our festivals, our public access to parks. Accessible nature with dense population. It has given me a lot and I feel an obligation to give back. There are a lot of neighborhoods with very specific identities and different flavors.
What do you see as your role as a state representative?
Aside from my work in the legislature, where of late I have been focusing on Deaf access and Deaf issues, there is a role for a bully pulpit afforded in any public office to advocate for Milwaukee. My role is also to break down negative stereotypes and misconceptions about Milwaukee to those not from here.
What is your favorite place in Milwaukee to unwind?
It’s hard to pick just one, but a few of my favorite spots include Water basin, the Swing Park, walking along the lakefront, Dry Hootch, the Oriental Theater, Maharaja, and the UWM campus due to its vibrancy and culture.
What is the most exciting thing happening in the city right now?
Besides my newborn son Boaz, we have a critical mass of talented artists right now. Dasha Kelly stands out to me, along with DJ Bizzon and his DJ collective. The Hmong Young Professionals group and the Hmong Chamber of Commerce are doing great things and really have their finger on the pulse.
What is the biggest challenge that Milwaukee is facing right now?
The two biggest overlapping issues facing our city are the violence of poverty and systemic racism.
Where do you see Milwaukee/your business 10 years from now?
I hope to see some healing around gun violence and poverty. The problems we are facing are not small or incremental, therefore the solutions shouldn’t be small or incremental. We need a complete overhaul of how we allocate resources in our state so that they better serve the people.
What is something you would like to see in Milwaukee that we don’t have?
I would like to see a guaranteed $40,000 a year job for anyone who wants it. We definitely have enough work that needs to be done in our community.
Advice for locals that may want to follow in your footsteps?
Never compromise on doing what’s right and always work really hard. The rest will work itself out. See the world how it should be rather than how it is.