Chris Abele

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Chris Abele
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 50)
Concord, Massachusetts, U.S.
Nationality American
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Miriam Abele
Children 3
Parents John Abele
Mary Abele
Residence Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
Occupation Milwaukee County Executive, Trustee of Argosy Foundation, investor, politician

Christopher Seton "Chris" Abele (born January 28, 1967) is an American businessman and Democratic Party politician. He is the current Milwaukee County Executive.[1][2] Abele is the son of American businessman John Abele, the co-founder of Boston Scientific.[3] Chris Abele serves as a trustee of the Argosy Foundation, a charitable trust established with an endowment from his father.

Business career[edit]

In 1996, Abele, with Chris Kerr, founded SteriLogic Waste Systems, which serves hospitals and medical clinics in managing sharps waste. Abele served as CEO of SteriLogic from 1996–2004. In 2004, Abele became Chairman of the company to devote more time to philanthropic efforts.[4]

In 2001, Abele and his business partner Steve Mech founded CSA Commercial, a Milwaukee-based real estate and development company.[5] In 2006, SteriLogic merged with Medsolutions and in 2007, Kerr and Abele sold the majority of SteriLogic to Stericycle. The remainder of SteriLogic was restructured the remainder as Oxus Environmental.[citation needed]

In 2011, the Argosy Foundation took a "change in leadership." Abele left his position as president and CEO and was replaced by his sister, Jeneye.[6]

Abele invested 10 million dollars into a venture fund, CSA Partners LLC,[7] for Milwaukee start-ups. The LLC was formed with Brian Taffora and Pat Farley. They invested into gener8tor's Fund II and opened Ward 4 (Milwaukee, WI startup accelerator space) in remodelled space inside the former John Pritzlaff Hardware Company Building.[8][9]

2011 Milwaukee County Executive race[edit]

On January 4, 2011, Abele formally announced that he entered the race for Milwaukee County Executive on.[10] Abele and Stone received the most votes and advanced on to a run-off election that was held on April 5, 2011.[11] On April 5, 2011, Abele defeated Republican challenger Jeff Stone.[12] Abele was sworn in on April 21, 2011.[13]

Issue positions[edit]

Tax increases[edit]

Abele said 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.[14]

Ideology and party affiliation[edit]

Abele contributed primarily to Democratic campaigns and the Democratic Party.[14] Formerly, Abele served on a number of finance committees. This included the 2002 campaign for former Governor Jim Doyle, where he helped with John Kerry's presidential fundraising, and donated to Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.[14] The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Daniel Bice reported that Abele donated to the campaigns of Republican state legislators including Joe Sanfelippo and Dale Kooyenga, both of whom have played roles in the passage of bills that have increased Abele's power as Milwaukee County executive.[15]


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",[16] and "Abele has the right experience and the right vision. Abele could be a game-changer".[17] 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."[18]

Milwaukee County Executive[edit]

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

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.[19]

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.

Personal life[edit]

Abele grew up in Concord, Massachusetts, but after attending college at Lawrence University in Appleton, WI from 1991 to 1994, he decided to stay in Milwaukee.[20][21]

He is previously divorced and has three children.[22] He has been named to the Milwaukee Business Journal's "40 under 40" and "Power Broker" lists.[23][24]

In addition, he is currently a member of the Board of Governors for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Inc., a Trustee for Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design Inc, and the Chairman for Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.[25]

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. ^ Craver, Jack (July 15, 2013). "Chris Abele: The Democratic candidate who could have been". The Capital Times. Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  2. ^ Stein, Jason (October 11, 2015). "Chris Larson to announce challenge of Chris Abele on Monday". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  3. ^ Greater Milwaukee Business Journal: "Foundation moving to Milwaukee - Chris Abele to head family's philanthropy" by Pete Millard November 17, 2002
  4. ^ Oxus Company history
  5. ^ Real estate executive's projects have civic impact in mind
  6. ^ Argosy Foundation. "Argosy Foundation 2011 Annual Report" (PDF). Argosy Foundation. Retrieved June 23, 2015. 
  7. ^ Gallagher, Kathleen. "Chris Abele's money at work in venture fund". Journal Sentinel, Inc. Retrieved June 23, 2015. 
  8. ^ Kirgues, Joe. "Milwaukee's Next Step Forward". Journal Media Group. Retrieved June 23, 2015. 
  9. ^ Bauter, Allison (May 31, 2015). "First look: Ward 4 startup accelerator space opens Monday". Milwaukee Business Journal. Retrieved June 23, 2015. 
  10. ^ Chris Abele Announcement Speech
  11. ^ Five candidates file for county executive
  12. ^ Election 2011 | Milwaukee County Executive – Abele defeats Stone for Milwaukee County executive
  13. ^ Klopperung/Prosser too close to call, Abele wins | Third Coast Daily
  14. ^ a b c JSOnline Politifact: "Milwaukee County executive candidate Chris Abele says he’s not partisan"
  15. ^
  16. ^ "Abele has vision, drive to lead county forward"
  17. ^ Abele has vision, drive to lead county forward
  18. ^ Editorial – Abele a better bet for change
  19. ^ Schultze, Steve (10 June 2012). "Milwaukee County halts public art program". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 10 June 2012. 
  20. ^ "Jeff Stone says Chris Abele, opponent in Milwaukee County executive race, dropped out of three separate colleges". @politifact. Retrieved 2016-03-29. 
  21. ^ Robertson, Campbell (2007-09-24). "Royal Shakespeare Company - Chris Abele - Theater". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-03-29. 
  22. ^ Bice, Daniel (January 20, 2015). "Chris Abele, wife to divorce soon". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  23. ^ Milwaukee Business Journal: 40 under 40
  24. ^ Milwaukee Business Journal: Power Brokers
  25. ^ "Chris Abele: Executive Profile & Biography - Businessweek". Retrieved 2016-03-28. 

External links[edit]