David Crowley sworn in as Milwaukee’s first African American county executive

May 7, 2020

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For the first time in nearly a decade, Milwaukee County has a new county executive.

David Crowley was sworn in outside his Milwaukee home Monday, May 4, 2020, succeeding Chris Abele and becoming the first African American to hold the county’s top job.

“We have a lot to do and I’m excited to get to work for the people of Milwaukee County,” Crowley said after being sworn in. “I first want to thank every voter who came out on April 7. You braved confusion, long lines, bad weather and a global pandemic to make sure that your voices were heard. So many people tried to stop you. Yet you still voted.”

In line with social distancing guidance during the coronavirus pandemic, Wisconsin Appeals Court Judge Joe Donald swore Crowley in from a distance. Crowley’s wife, Ericka, held the Bible.

“I want to congratulate you on the historic election,” Donald said before Crowley took the oath. “We need your focus, drive and resilience, and so I’m looking forward to all the great things to come.”

Media and supporters, including Abele, gathered for the event.

On the door behind Crowley hung an American flag.

Crowley recalled learning about the community’s civil rights trailblazers when he was in grade school.

“Every single one of those leaders of color and many, many others who came before me were responsible for bending that arc of the moral universe a little bit more towards justice,” he said, citing the famous line from Martin Luther King Jr. “And I am honored and humbled to have the opportunity and the responsibility to continue the hard work of bending the arc toward justice.”