By Dylan Deprey
On a normal Tuesday night, Water Street bar goers are typically free to roam around without the muttering the phrases “excuse me” and “sorry about that.” A stray off the beaten path of these typical Water Street bars, Uglys’ second floor was packed shoulder to shoulder. Men and women, black and white, suits and casual dressed stood among each other.
On April 5, Ugly’s was utilized thoroughly. As drinks were poured, the eyes of Chris Abele supporters gazed at the TV in the corner of the room. Mild chatter of the projected presidential candidates floated over the slowly growing hum of friends introducing each other to acquaintances.
As the minute hand inched towards nine o’clock, the low mutter of small talk transgressed to a screaming match. Supporters and friends of Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele cheered as the final votes came in and a 74 percent was bolded over a graphic of his head shot placed next to opponent State Senator Chris Larson.
Supporters and campaign staff stood on stage in the middle of the room as a slow chant of “Four more years” grew louder.
Chris Abele and his staff made their way up the back stairway and were greeted with the chant.
Surrounded by his campaign staff, Chris Abele stared out into the crowded room and thanked everybody. Everybody was mentioned from his election team, family, friends, interns and then a special thank you to the voters.
He praised the progress the city’s fiscal shape has taken in the last five years.
He also He also made it clear that after his last four years as County Executive he was going to continue his efforts.
“I was not going to waste your time looking for fights,” Abele said. “ I am going to spend my time looking for solutions.”
Although the final votes of his win were counted only twenty minutes earlier, Abele talked of his work for the future. One of the solutions he had mentioned was his effort in combatting chronic homelessness.
This can be defined as an individual who has experienced homelessness for one year or longer, has experienced at least four episodes of homelessness in the last three years and has a disability.
A part of this plan includes his work with the Thurgood Marshall Apartments complex, a 24-unit guesthouse for the homeless of Milwaukee.
Abele told the crowd of the thought process on what would have to happen to end homelessness with permanent housing and finish it in three years. This would be the fastest in any metro area in the country.
“This is not just the county’s issue, it is an all of us issues,” Abele said.
Abele also addressed another controversial issue concerning the 53206 area code. He talked of it’s infamous coveting of being the highest incarceration rate especially of black males in the country.
“This isn’t just an issue; this is a crisis,” Abele said.
Dr. Pamela Malone, sociology professor at the Milwaukee Area Technical College and Community Brainstorming organizer, attended Abele’s victory party. She teaches criminology as well. She agreed with Abele in his efforts in combatting the steadily rising incarceration rate.
“A lot of incarceration starts at the youth. When they start young, they often move into adult prisons,” Malone said. “He’s doing a wonderful job on Lincoln Hills, the youth prisons and on bringing kids home.”
Malone also commended Abele in his efforts in his fight to end chronic homelessness in Milwaukee.
“Chris has been a philanthropist all his life, he gives away money but he also gives away his heart” Malone said.
Abele celebrated his victory but also kept to saying that even with the win, there is still work that needs to be done. He added that he wanted to involve the county, city and state as well as religious, non-profits, and other groups.
“I will use every chip I’ve got to get this thing right,” Abele said.