In only a few weeks, Milwaukee County voters will choose a new executive to take the job once held by Scott Walker.
It has become increasingly clear that the differences between Chris Abele and his opponent, GOP state Rep. Jeff Stone, are dramatic. Abele is not a career politician. He has spent his time building broad consensus and strengthening our community in many different ways.
Stone is the very definition of a career politician. He has a history of following the lead of the extreme elements of his party. He’s embraced the failed hyper-partisan model set by Walker.
Although Stone has been referred to as a “moderate” Republican, there is very little evidence to justify that description. He has been repeatedly hostile to the interests of the LGBT community. He repeatedly voted to put the marriage amendment on the ballot in 2006 and, more recently, he voted against legislation that sought to protect students from bullying.
In contrast, Abele has helped lead human rights organizations that support LGBT rights. He was very supportive of Fair Wisconsin and its efforts to fight the discriminatory marriage amendment in 2006.
During his time in the Legislature, Stone has compiled an extreme record on other issues, such as women’s reproductive health. He’s repeatedly received 100 percent ratings from some of Wisconsin’s most extreme right-wing organizations on women’s health issues. Abele has served as a board member for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin for years.
Stone’s allegiance to the leaders of his political party is perhaps best demonstrated in his unquestioning support of Walker’s Budget Repair Bill. Stone literally was standing over Walker’s shoulder when the governor announced the extreme policy measures in that piece of legislation. The bill is a direct attack on Wisconsin’s labor unions, many of which have been extremely supportive of equality in Wisconsin.
Abele has called out Stone for backing an agenda that refuses all compromise and shuns good faith negotiation. Abele correctly has pointed out the fact that labor has already agreed to the fiscal concessions and only seeks to maintain collective bargaining rights.
On the other hand, Walker and Stone refuse to take yes for an answer, and that is what is needlessly prolonging the self-induced crisis.
Walker also recently presented his two-year budget, which includes unprecedented cuts to education, healthcare for the most needy and state aid to local governments, including Milwaukee County. Abele stood up against the proposed $1 billion cuts to schools and to the state’s shared revenue program. Stone has said very little to defend Milwaukee County, its municipalities or its schools from these drastic cuts.
Stone has the same kind of backing that we normally see in a partisan race, but Abele has put together a broad coalition of support that includes Democrats, Republicans and Independents, as well as important leaders in business and labor. While we may not always agree on the difficult decisions ahead, it is clear that only Abele wants everyone to have a meaningful spot at the table.
That is the only approach that will help move Milwaukee County forward.