Chris Abele starts his year of change and problem solving
Chris Abele was sworn in as Milwaukee’s sixth elected County Executive Monday afternoon. He will complete the final year of Scott Walker’s unexpired term.
The courthouse rotunda was filled to capacity with county supervisors, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and Congresswoman Gwen Moore in attendance. The mood was cheerful as county employees and officials gave hugs, high fives and congratulations to Abele staffers for running a successful campaign.
Milwaukee County Election Commissioner David Sartori presented Abele with his certificate of election. Immediately following the exchange Abele took the oath of office from Milwaukee Municipal Court Presiding Judge Derek Mosley.
“I am humbled,” Abele said, “and we have a lot to do, so I will keep my comments relatively brief.”
As noted in his campaign, the county executive’s first speech centered on change – a change in style, attitude and way of doing things in the county. This change would lead to a greater focus on efficient and economical ways of delivering the services needed and desired by the citizens of the county.
“Change is not only what we do, but how we do it,” Abele said.
He thanked Barrett, Moore and other officials for attending and gave an extra welcome to the county board, which has a history of clashing with the executive branch.
Abele pointed to the problems that plague the region – transit cuts and reductions, education, sewer and water problems, even crime, saying that partnerships are the only way they can be solved.
“This is not a county problem…, this is not an MPS problem…, and this is not an MMSD problem, this is an all of us problem.”
County Supervisor John Weishan is upbeat about working with Abele.
“You will get a more unified approach to bringing people together here to solve the real root causes of the problems for Milwaukee County, and then we will be able to have one single loud voice when we go to Madison and to the rest of the state on what the true solutions are for Milwaukee County,” Weishan says.
As Abele stated in his speech, there is a lot to do and the new county executive already has two issues on the table.
Last week the county board approved the installation of $1.2 million worth of glass and steel panels on the outside of O’Donnell Park as part of the repairs to the damaged parking garage. Abele had lobbied the board to proceed with a less expensive option of stucco siding for the garage, which has been closed since last June after a concrete panel fell from the structure and killed a teenage boy. Abele has said he would like to explore different development options for the park location.
Shortly after his swearing in, Abele told reporters that he would veto the board’s O’Donnell Park decision.
“That’s an easy one,” he said.
This morning, Supervisor Joe Sanfelippo encouraged Abele to consider using his veto on the recently passed redistricting of the county’s supervisory districts. He noted that the board passed the measure with only one short public hearing and seven days for the public to review the plans, which reduce the county board’s size from 19 to 18 members.
“I urge incoming County Executive Chris Abele to veto this plan as his first official act after being sworn in, and I encourage the Board to then give the public adequate time to weigh in on this important issue.”
Neither Abele or his staff gave any indication if he would follow Sanfelippo’s advice.
“I can’t promise I will fix everything, but we will try,” Abele said in closing.
Abele has already announced he will seek a full term in April 2012.