By Karen Stokes
On a sunny, monday morning at Moody Park in the Amani neighborhood, a crowd of residents and county officials gathered to witness Chris Abele swear the oath of office for his second term as county executive of Milwaukee County.
Abele defeated Wisconsin Senator Chris Larson in the general election on April 5th.
“The reason we are in Moody Park is because this is a reminder of where there are so many things going wrong, there’s some things going right. This park belongs to the community. You are the authors of what you see here.” said Abele.
Last August, Amani neighborhood residents celebrated the grand reopening of Moody Park located at 22nd and Burleigh after over 12 years of efforts by the neighborhood to revitalize the park. Abele proposed the revitalization in his 2013 budget as part of an Urban Parks Initiative that invests building parks up to have features that are more conducive to the needs of the community. Abele was on hand for the ribbon cutting ceremony with Amani neighborhood residents.
Newly elected Common Council President, Ashanti Hamilton talked about his plans to work with Abele to make the community better.
“We need to actively make a stand, put a stake in the ground and demand that our tomorrows are much better than our yesterdays,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton introduced Chief Judge Maxine White who praised Abele on his work in the community. “I am glad that he is a warrior, that he decided to take on the deep ingrained racial disparity in Milwaukee County.”
The 53206 zip code has some of the highest concentration of African American poverty in the United States. It is amongst the worst racial disparity in jobs, education, health and incarceration.
During his brief inaugural address, the second term county executive focused on the problems in the inner city. The crowd at Moody Park applauded often as Abele told of plans for working with others in the community for a common goal.
“The reason we are here in 53206 this morning is because I want to be as clear as I possibly can that my highest priority for the next four years is to do everything I can to try to erase those racial disparities, empower the community and turn those statistics around and I’m going to be here a lot more,” Abele said.
“It’s not simply the responsibility of an elected official to respond to crisis with the urgency it deserves. It’s our moral obligation. I don’t believe you’ve been getting the amount of urgency as you should. I want to change that,” Abele explained.
‘I could do an inauguration anywhere, it’s still official,” said Abele. “It meant something to me to do it here and I mean it when I say that it’s the single highest priority I have is to work with everybody I can to make Milwaukee the city it should be for everybody, not some but everybody.”