In chats with his friends, Milwaukee County Exec Chris Abele has raised the possibility of running for mayor of Milwaukee and retaining his seat as Milwaukee Co exec – if Mayor Tom Barrett defeats Gov. Scott Walker in next month’s recall election.
Abele's office says he’s “not actively considering it but not ruling it out."
Adam Stephens, the assistant city attorney for Milwaukee that deals with elections issues, says he’s not been asked to formulate an opinion on the matter and a cursory check of statutes and legal opinions give no definitive answer.
“Nothing in the statute jumps out at me saying he couldn’t do it,” said Stephens. “But the first thing that came to mind for me is ‘compatibility of office.’”
In other words, would holding one office present a conflict of office when holding the other office simultaneously?
When state Rep. David Cullen recently ran for Milwaukee County supervisor and won, he said he intended to hold both offices. State Sen. Spencer Coggs recently won his bid for Milwaukee city treasurer and said he would hold both offices until the end of his Senate term. They saw no conflict in holding both.
The League of Wisconsin Municipalities has issued a legal opinion that someone could serve as an alderman and a county supervisor.
“But this would be an interesting dynamic,” Stephens said.
Abele’s motives, according to one friend, are pure. He sees it as a way to reduce redundancies and save money. He has made efforts to do that during his first year in office.
But another pointed out that he declined to veto a resolution of the County Board that reduced the number of county supervisors from 17 to 16, despite calls for more radical cuts.