Chris vs. Chris

What My Opponent is Most Wrong About

Parting shots and closing arguments in the race for county executive.

By - Mar 30th, 2016 11:26 am
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Chris Larson vs Chris Abele

Chris Larson vs Chris Abele

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.

Sometimes legislators take a position that runs contrary to public opinion – as Senator Larson did with his support for rebuilding the Estabrook Dam. But it is not leadership to try and now argue that the science has changed and you are now going to do what the public wants – what he has done since the issue became a political liability. I’ve always been for removing the Estabrook Dam. It harms the environment and makes good financial sense.

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.

5 thoughts on “Chris vs. Chris: What My Opponent is Most Wrong About”

  1. TLee says:

    No way Abele- I’m not buying it!

  2. Amy says:

    Honestly, I’m so fed up with both of your tactics that I’m sorry there’s not a reasonable candidate for whom to vote. Every day since October there’ve been three glossy pieces in our mailbox (one addressed to an offspring who hasn’t lived in the US since 2008), and since February it’s been all fecal matter politics all the time from both of you. Imagine going into a job interview and instead of demonstrating your knowledge of the company and what you can do to make or keep it successful, making sure you hammered home that in current or past jobs, the other candidates had “let their employers down,” “might be the biggest phonies in the history of their industry,” “said they’re for you but worked against you.”

    Would you hire someone like that to work for you? Or with you?

  3. Thomas says:

    It looks to me like Abele has succeeded in discouraging at least one potential voter. Most of the glossy flyers were Abele’s. 90% or more of the TV ads were Abele’s. The misleading put- down: “says he’s for you but works against you” is Abele’s line.
    By contrast, Larson has run an honest campaign on a shoe-string budget.

    These candidates are clearly different people. It is sad when anonymous donors spend big money to discourage potential voters to the extent that these voters can see no difference between very different candidates.

  4. Vincent Hanna says:

    Do people care that Larson won’t pledge to serve a full term? Didn’t many criticize Walker for not pledging a full term as governor? Selective partisan outrage?

  5. Milwaukee Native says:

    Abele: “I believe passionately in transparency and accountability in government. It’s been one of the hallmarks of my stewardship of the County.”

    Chris Abele has been anything but transparent–a master of double-speak and distortion.

    Marcus Center: Abele sneakily got state GOP cronies to allow dumping the county-owned Marcus Center onto a state entity (WCD). He never even informed the Marcus Center’s CEO. Legislators who voted for the favor to Abele later said they were never briefed on what this unprecedented transfer would mean. Then the WCD board just said NO to Abele’s merit-less plan.

    O’Donnell Park: Abele deceived the public into thinking he was selling off the “O’Donnell Parking Garage,” not a seven-acre park, the most-valuable real estate in MKE. Also never mentioned in the deal’s press kit was a huge pavilion included. After his sweetheart deal with NML was rejected (following 2 years of secret meetings) he kept trying to sell O’Donnell, including through a middle-of-the night clause tucked into the state budget. It was ruthless meddling. Good-faith negotiations had long been under way between the art museum and county and could have drastically harmed the museum and wreaked havoc on the lakefront and downtown. Outraged citizens got the clause removed at the 11th hour.

    Unaccountable Bucks Arena Giveaways: Abele executed a deal to commit $80 million from County taxpayers without hosting a single “transparent” public hearing. He also committed $73 million plus interest from the Wisconsin Center District to be repaid by food/bev and other taxes—all without ever meeting with WCD leadership. Abele’s idea of “consensus” is donating to state legislators who agree to do his will. He got nothing for taxpayers in the Bucks deal and it will stymie the county for decades.

    Unaccountable Land Giveaways: Abele arranged payback from state legislators to let him give away $9 million in Park East land to owners of the Milwaukee Bucks for speculation. He also deceived the public about hidden costs. Taxpayers will also pay at $5 million for sewer upgrades and untold millions on remediation for this land—adding insult to injury.

    Keeping Elected Officials in the Dark: County comptroller Scott Manske and Treasurer David Cullen were never consulted before Abele tried to make state debt collection part of the Arena deal. Both said it would lose money for the county. Manske was never consulted before Abele gave him a sham vote on land deals, which can be overridden by a real-estate professional. Abele routinely withholds information from the board and finagled to cut them out of most decisions.

    Domes Demolition Deception: Abele continually tells flat-out lies about the Domes—or makes gross exaggerations—to try to convince the public they should be torn down. He makes callous remarks about citizens’ attachment to their beloved oasis.

    Warped Concept of “Stewardship”: Abele has never laid out plans to address long-term capital needs for parks and cultural facilities—beyond dumping/selling off assets at big losses, kicking cans down roads–or demolition.

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