Mandela Barnes was a Wisconsin State Representative for the 11th Assembly District which includes the Northeast portion of the City of Milwaukee and part of the City of Glendale. Elected in 2012, Mandela was a community organizer focusing on issues of jobs & economic development, education, immigration, and criminal justice reform. A large part of his work involved addressing minority contracting and opportunity for the unemployed/under employed on a major public works project receiving millions in federal money. When the project did not meet certain inclusion goals, it became a key factor in his decision to run and a central part of his campaign.
As a member of the State Legislature, Mandela served on the Assembly committees on Corrections (ranking), Education, Small Business, and Jobs & the Economy in addition to the Speaker's Youth Workforce Readiness Task Force. Recently the state passed a bill to help fund the construction of a new sports arena for the Milwaukee Bucks. He was integral in bringing together the team's ownership with labor and community groups to craft a project labor agreement that would cover construction as well as end-use jobs on the project to create new jobs and providing training for Milwaukee residents. He also served on the advisory council for Newaukee, a social architecture firm that changes the way people connect and delivers workforce attraction, talent engagement and a better, brighter city for all to enjoy as a triple bottom line for their clients.