Chris Abele

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Chris Abele
Chris Abele (right) on January 7, 2011
Milwaukee County Executive
Assumed office
April 25, 2011
Preceded by Scott Walker
Personal details
Born Christopher Seton Abele
(1967-01-28) January 28, 1967 (age 47)
Concord, Massachusetts, U.S.
Nationality American
Spouse(s) Miriam Abele
Children two
Parents John Abele
Mary Abele
Residence Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
Occupation Milwaukee County Executive, President & CEO of Argosy Foundation, philanthropist, investor

Christopher Seton "Chris" Abele (born January 28, 1967) is the current Milwaukee County Executive, an American business owner and philanthropist and former president of the Milwaukee based Argosy Foundation. Abele is active within the Democratic Party.[1] Abele is the son of American businessman John Abele, the co-founder of Boston Scientific.[2]

Business career[edit]

In 1996, Abele founded SteriLogic Waste Systems with Chris Kerr serving hospitals and medical clinics in managing sharps waste. After serving as CEO of SteriLogic from 1996–2004, Abele became Chairman of Sterilogic to devote more time to philanthropic efforts.[3]

In 2001, he and his business partner Steve Mech founded CSA Commercial, a Milwaukee-based real estate and development company.[4] In 2004, Abele formally became the President and CEO of the Milwaukee-based Argosy Foundation. In 2006, SteriLogic merged with Medsolutions and in 2007, Kerr and Abele sold the majority of SteriLogic to Stericycle and restructured the remainder as Oxus Environmental.[citation needed]

Community involvement[edit]

Board positions[edit]

Search committees[edit]

Abele has participated in numerous executive search committees for a variety of organizations, including:

Awards and honors[edit]

Abele has been the recipient of numerous awards for his work in the community, including:

  • Milwaukee Business Journal "40 under 40"[16]
  • Milwaukee Business Journal "Power Broker"[17]
  • Boys and Girls Clubs of Milwaukee "Most Valuable Person"
  • Public Policy Forum "Charles McNeer Civic Leadership Award"
  • United Performing Arts Fund "Partner in the Arts Award"
  • Governor's Award in Support of the Arts
  • Boys & Girls Club of America "National Foundation Award"
  • Shepherd Express "Milwaukeean of the Year"
  • Children's Hospital of Wisconsin "Children's Hero Award"
  • Saint Francis Center "Children's Service Award"
  • Marcus Center "Corporate Citizen Award"
  • Riverwalk Association "Gertie Award"

2011 Milwaukee County Executive race[edit]

Abele made his formal announcement to enter the race for Milwaukee County Executive on January 4, 2011.[18] Abele, and opponents Jeff Stone, Jim Sullivan, Ieshuh Griffin, and Lee Holloway faced-off in a non-partisan primary on February 15, 2011. Abele and Stone received the most votes and advanced on to a run-off election that was held on April 5, 2011.[19] On April 5, 2011, Abele defeated Republican challenger Jeff Stone, capturing over 61% of all votes cast and will serve out the remainder of then-County Executive Scott Walker's original term.[20] Abele was sworn in on April 21, 2011.[21]

Issue positions[edit]

Tax increases[edit]

Abele did not adopt his predecessor (Scott Walker)'s strict "no new taxes" approach, but says tax increases should be a "last resort" until the county gets its act together. Specifically, a dedicated sales tax for parks or transit is out for the "foreseeable future", he told PolitiFact Wisconsin.[22]

County privatization of services[edit]

Abele told Politifact Wisconsin that he is "wide open" to privatizing more county services if it saves money, preserves an important service or improves poorly delivered programs such as mental health.

Ideology and party affiliation[edit]

Abele has contributed primarily to Democratic campaigns and the Democratic Party.[22] Formerly, Abele served on a number of finance committees. This activity includes the 2002 campaign for former Governor Jim Doyle, helping with John Kerry's presidential fundraising, and donating to Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.[22]


On February 12, 2011, Abele received the endorsement of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which stated "Chris Abele's leadership on nonprofit boards, his experience running two family companies and his skill managing the Argosy Foundation make him a solid choice for county executive",[23] and "Abele has the right experience and the right vision. Abele could be a game-changer".[24] On April 2, 2011, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel once again endorsed Abele over Jeff Stone, stating "Milwaukee County needs transformative change. One candidate provides the better chance to accomplish that."[25]

Milwaukee County Executive[edit]

Abele took the oath of office to become Milwaukee County Executive on April 25, 2011, succeeding Scott Walker, who was elected Governor.

On June 9, 2011, citing concerns about budget cuts at the state level, Abele indicated his opposition to a planned $775,000 investment in public art at the Milwaukee County Courthouse. A year later, in June 2012, Abele signed a resolution placing the public art program on "hiatus" and authorizing use of the program's $500,000 in accumulated funds toward deferred maintenance instead of artwork.[26]

On June 10, 2011 he announced his intention to provide health care coverage to domestic partners of Milwaukee County employees. This was approved by the County Board on July 28, 2011, and signed by Abele into law on August 3, 2011.

Electoral history[edit]

2011 Milwaukee County Executive General Election
Non-partisan election
Candidate Votes Percentage
Chris Abele 134,848 60.53%
Jeff Stone 87,913 39.47%


  1. ^ Chris Abele profile at
  2. ^ Greater Milwaukee Business Journal: "Foundation moving to Milwaukee - Chris Abele to head family's philanthropy" by Pete Millard November 17, 2002
  3. ^ Oxus Company history
  4. ^ Real estate executive's projects have civic impact in mind
  5. ^ Salute to Youth
  7. ^ Carr Center for Human Rights Policy Board of Directors
  8. ^ Haggerty News, Spring 2007
  9. ^ League of American Orchestra: Board of Directors
  11. ^ Medical College of Wisconsin Board of Trustees
  12. ^ Milwaukee Art Museum: Creative Fusion Celebrate Success
  13. ^ Milwaukee Symphony Board of Directors
  14. ^ Physicians for Human Right Annual Report
  15. ^ Goodgate Profile: Women for Women International
  16. ^ Milwaukee Business Journal: 40 under 40
  17. ^ Milwaukee Business Journal: Power Brokers
  18. ^ Chris Abele Announcement Speech
  19. ^ Five candidates file for county executive
  20. ^ Election 2011 | Milwaukee County Executive – Abele defeats Stone for Milwaukee County executive
  21. ^ Klopperung/Prosser too close to call, Abele wins | Third Coast Daily
  22. ^ a b c JSOnline Politifact: "Milwaukee County executive candidate Chris Abele says he’s not partisan"
  23. ^ "Abele has vision, drive to lead county forward"
  24. ^ Abele has vision, drive to lead county forward
  25. ^ Editorial – Abele a better bet for change
  26. ^ Schultze, Steve (10 June 2012). "Milwaukee County halts public art program". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 10 June 2012. 

External links[edit]