What My Opponent is Most Wrong About
Parting shots and closing arguments in the race for county executive.
Chris Larson‘s Views:
In the final weeks of a long campaign, it’s become clear to many voters that the thing my opponent is most wrong about is that he’ll be allowed to buy another election.
Abele has used millions from his vast, inherited wealth to try and trump up his campaign. We, as voters, have seen this in the form of his over-sized mailers that fill mailboxes yet only contain half-truths. His TV commercials run constantly in what seems like an effort to cover up their lack of sensical content. There’s an overwhelming sense of desperation that attempts to blur the clear line that separates the two candidates, our stories, and our values.
I grew up Milwaukee County, in a working family, and I’m raising my kids here. For those that know me, they know I’ve spent my time in office standing up for working families and fighting for equal access to opportunity. I don’t shy away from the tough fights and I don’t fear going out into the community to explain where I stand on the issues or to hear from my neighbors about where we should be going together as a community.
That’s why I was happy to put forward a tax plan that will reduce property taxes by $70 million while shifting to a 6.6% sales tax (instead of the current 5.6%), so that our neighbors will finally have dedicated funding for parks, transit, and public safety. Finally, we can plan for the long-term in our community, starting with saving the Domes. We’ve seen enough of the Walker-style budget gimmicks where a politician pretends to freeze your taxes but they still go up while your services get slashed. To be clear, property taxes have gone up over $17 million since Abele’s been in charge, so our best guess is that he’ll continue his increases.
Instead of putting forward his own bold plan or defending his own record, Abele and his army of political consultants have decided the easier path will be to bury voters in misinformation. Next Tuesday, voters have a chance to show they won’t be fooled by his ridiculous claims. In the meantime, Abele is also temporarily backing away from the power grabs he’s gotten over our public schools, over land sales, and the additional power he seeks over unilateral policy making and budgeting without the public at the table. He’s really hoping you don’t remember all that.
I, like many voters, remember from five years ago that my opponent says some great things when elections roll around. But after the last five years, we also now know that he quickly abandons his promises and stops listening as soon as the election wraps up. That’s why many elected leaders from Gwen Moore to Jonathan Brostoff, Grassroots groups from Tosa to the Northshore, the Milwaukee Area Labor Council to the teachers unions, and thousands of neighbors have switched to support our growing campaign for change. Our opponent can spend all he wants but our votes won’t be bought again.
Chris Abele‘s Views:
Thanks Urban Milwaukee for hosting this series. The issues Milwaukee County faces are really important, and more complicated than traditional campaign tactics of sound bites and press releases allow.
I respect Senator Larson. I know that he cares deeply about the County just as I do. We have very different backgrounds and experiences. We approach issues, leadership and governance very differently.
I believe passionately in transparency and accountability in government. It’s been one of the hallmarks of my stewardship of the County. And I’ve been consistent in my positions and my approach to issues whether there was an election or not.
Senator Larson is a very skilled politician. Including one of the habits, saying one thing and then doing another once in office. It is great to say you’re working for the people. But it’s not working for the people when you accept special interest contributions from big banks and then vote against your own party to give those banks the special breaks they want. That’s what Senator Larson did in Madison.
It is important to consider a wide range of ideas and approaches to improving government’s ability to fulfill its duty and serve the public. What is not ok is to resort to raising taxes on seniors, the poor, and working families. Senator Larson has said he is for tripling the county’s portion of the sales tax. I disagree. The sales tax is one of the most regressive forms of taxation, it places the highest burden on those who can afford it the least.
Nor do I agree with his plan to increase property taxes. Senator Larson has stated he would “try” to limit property tax increases to the rate of inflation. That means that if he is elected, you can expect your property taxes to go up every single year just like when he was a County Board Supervisor.
I know that we can keep property taxes flat and still improve essential services. Every single budget I have proposed has called for freezing property taxes while expanding services. I have focused on paying down the credit card that was run up for years. This is how we have freed up millions of dollars to improve transit, invest in job creation, and more. That is my record. It is what I have done, and it is the approach I will continue to pursue if re-elected.
That is the difference in this race. I have done the things I talk about, among them getting the County’s finances under control and expanding services with the savings. I have been consistent, transparent, and accountable, even when the decisions I’ve made aren’t the most popular. I believe in the path that we are on. I believe that we can do more to make Milwaukee an even better place to live, work, and raise a family. And I believe that the best way to do that is to focus on solutions – practical, implementable solutions – and work with anyone you can to do things in our best interests.
I would be honored to have the opportunity to continue to do so.