By Mrinal Gokhale
In the fall of 2018, 19-year-old Kalan Haywood II won the primary election for 16th District State Representative against four other Democratic challengers. He was sworn in on the morning of Jan. 4 by Judge Maxine White at the Cardinal Stritch University Kliehbhan Conference Center, making him Wisconsin’s youngest legislator.
Many local elected and business leaders attended this ceremony to express their support for Haywood, and the auditorium was very packed. Haywood was previously the president of the City of Milwaukee Youth Council from 2015 to 2017.
Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes describes Haywood’s victory as “truly remarkable” when addressing him on stage.
“We have a number of issues in Wisconsin,” he said. “We are a state that has the highest rate of black male incarceration, but you are changing the narrative of what it means to work for the state.”
Former Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch also attended. She started by acknowledging her presence as the “elephant in the room,” and said that this swearing-in ceremony was the “most populated” she has ever attended in Wisconsin.
“I think Kalan Haywood is going to make an outstanding State Representative,” she said.
She also said that she met him through his father, Kalan Haywood Sr., a real estate developer, when the two traveled to Detroit years ago to look at housing developments.
“It perhaps never occurred to me that one day we would swear you in as the newest State Representative from Milwaukee and Wisconsin,” Kleefisch said to Haywood. “I’m proud that we remain friends today, and I hope to remain Kalan’s friend as well.”
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett gave a statement as well, recalling his time with Haywood on the Milwaukee Common Council. He said that he noticed that Haywood had a “calling of public service.”
“It was about four years ago when I couldn’t help but notice Kalan,” he said. “Very quickly it struck me how serious he was about our community.”
Senator Lena Taylor said that she knew Haywood when he was serving on the Common Council as well.
“I remember when he went to work for Alderwoman Milele Coggs and his visibility in the community, the attentiveness to people, his desire to not only be present but to try to get solutions were all things I loved when he was a teenager working on the student council process,” she said.
Some others who made remarks were Alderwoman Milele Coggs, Milwaukee Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton, and NAACP Milwaukee President Fred Royal.
After everyone on stage made their remarks, Haywood discussed his “three-point plan,” which includes education, job creation and safety.
“I hear all the time from people in Wisconsin that they have jobs but no one to fill them. That doesn’t sit too well with me,” he said. “Every day I meet people who are looking for jobs who are unemployed or underemployed.”
The ceremony was followed by a celebratory reception with food and drink. Haywood’s term began on Jan. 7 when he took oath in Madison with all Wisconsin State Assembly members.