County Executive
  • Refine Search

  • All Results

April 5, 2024

Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley Reflects on First Term Successes


During his first term, County Executive Crowley delivered investments, initiatives, and policies to advance racial equity in Milwaukee County


MILWAUKEE – County Executive David Crowley is reflecting on the success of his first term in office.

Sworn into office in May of 2020, David Crowley became the youngest county executive in the history of Milwaukee County and the first Black leader elected to serve in the role. On Tuesday, County Executive Crowley was reelected to a second term with 85% of the vote. During his first term in office, Crowley has delivered major investments, new initiatives, and policies to achieve race and health equity throughout Milwaukee County.

“From advancing racial equity efforts to investing in affordable housing, mental health services, and public transit, we’ve realized great progress over the last four years in making Milwaukee County the healthiest community in Wisconsin,” said County Executive Crowley. “We know that partnerships and collaboration are the way forward. What’s good for Milwaukee County is what’s good for the entire State of Wisconsin. That’s why I’m ready for the work ahead, as we continue envisioning Milwaukee County’s bright future together.”

Since being sworn in, Crowley has led the implementation of the first county-wide strategic plan in 20 years, focusing the County on a vision of achieving racial equity, and by doing so, becoming the healthiest county in the state. Under his leadership, Milwaukee County diversified positions at the cabinet department level, as well as on boards and commissions. In fact, more than half of Crowley’s cabinet level departments are led by women, and more than half of the cabinet leaders are Black. Through implementing the strategic plan, Crowley enhanced relationships with the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors to govern collaboratively and equitably.

A huge priority for Crowley was putting Milwaukee County on the path of financial sustainability. For the first time in decades, Milwaukee County finds itself in a vastly improved budgetary environment than in past years. Thanks to Crowley’s leadership and advocacy, both chambers of the Wisconsin State Legislature passed the bipartisan Wisconsin Act 12 in June of 2023 to reform the state’s local revenue-sharing structure for the first time in over two decades. The legislation allowed Milwaukee County to raise additional revenues to address its unique financial challenges and legacy pension issues.

Driven by the passage of Wisconsin Act 12 and the historic actions by Crowley and the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, Milwaukee County projected the first budget surplus in over two decades. Because of this, Crowley secured the largest property tax levy reduction in Milwaukee County history. He also deployed investments across Milwaukee County, including additional funding for affordable housing, public transit, and local parks.

Below are highlights of Crowley’s notable accomplishments during his first term as Milwaukee County Executive.

Solving Milwaukee County’s Fiscal Challenges

Wisconsin Act 12: Crowley worked to pass Wisconsin Act 12 that resulted in tackling a $760 million pension debt, securing an anticipated $2.5 billion in sales tax revenues, obtaining flexibility to address $200 million in pension bonds, and delivering an additional $7 million annually in shared revenue. Crowley’s strategic approach to coalition-building, communication, and legislative advocacy addressed long-standing, significant barriers, creating a generational shift in local government funding and positioning Milwaukee County for continued growth and competitiveness.

Keeping the Brewers in Milwaukee: Through strategic collaboration with state officials, local governments, and private sector partners, Crowley worked to secure a bipartisan agreement to keep the Brewers in Milwaukee through 2050. It was also a priority to ensure that the region benefited economically while avoiding negative impacts on local taxpayers and creating significant fiscal benefits for the county. That’s why Crowley worked with stakeholders and legislators to secure bipartisan support and generate $240 million in new revenue flexibility for Milwaukee County.

Delivering Federal Funding: Crowley has worked to secure nearly $200 million in new revenues for Milwaukee County, reflecting his administration’s strategic approach to building lasting partnerships between the public and private sectors. During Crowley’s first term, Milwaukee County secured a historic amount of federal funding through the Congressionally Directed Spending (CDS) process. Projects include:

  • $7 million to support affordable housing projects throughout Milwaukee County, including rehabilitation and funding for first-time homebuyers;
  • Nearly $6 million for the Milwaukee County Transit System to purchase clean diesel buses;
  • $1 million for the MCTS Clean Diesel Bus Replacement and Faster Bus Project;
  • $500,000 for the Milwaukee County Parks Lagoon Revitalization Project at Veterans Park and Washington Park;
  • $2 million for medication-assisted treatment;
  • $750,000 for the construction of a new full-service community wellness center; and
  • $2.5 million to build the Mental Health Emergency Center;

Delivering State Funding: Crowley also realized success at the state level by securing additional funding, including:

  • $5.7 million to support the construction of the Mental Health Emergency Center;
  • $19 million for mass transit aid;
  • $20 million for the Forensic Science and Protective Medicine Facility;
  • $13 million for capital funding to address increased costs for renovating the Vel R. Phillips Juvenile Justice Center; and
  • $16 million to address Milwaukee County’s court backlog and public safety.

New Grant Efforts: Crowley created a centralized grant development unit to ensure the County is bringing in new grant funding that supports upstream programs and services. Since the inception of the centralized grant development unit, the County has secured more than $100 million in revenue over the last three years.

Department and Facility Consolidation: After decades of growth in the number of County departments, Crowley consolidated three departments into the Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). This reduced the number of senior positions and improved the quality of service for veterans, families, and older adults. The County also continued reducing its footprint by setting in motion the elimination of underutilized County-owned buildings to save taxpayer dollars.

Boosting Health and Racial Equity Across Milwaukee

No Wrong Door Model: By putting people at the center of service delivery, through its “No Wrong Door” model of customer service, DHHS created greater access to critical health and human services, while continuing to address social determinants of health and providing support and resources to our most vulnerable residents. It means that however people connect with DHHS, they will have access to comprehensive services and resources.

Combatting the Opioid Crisis: Last year, Milwaukee County successfully recovered $102 million in opioid litigation settlements, representing the largest amount recovered by any local government in the history of Wisconsin. Under Crowley’s oversight, the County currently has 15 opioid settlement-funded projects underway. Last year, DHHS placed 11 Harm Reduction Vending Machines throughout Milwaukee County. These vending machines are stocked with free fentanyl test strips, nasal naloxone, medication lock bags and deactivation pouches, and gun locks. Making these harm reduction tools free and easily accessible has been lifesaving in the community, with over 2,000 boxes of Narcan being distributed to the public from these vending machines.

Field Based Medication for Opioid Use Disorder: Last year, Crowley joined the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management, in partnership with the West Allis Fire Department, to announce and deploy a field-based, medication assisted treatment program for opioid use disorder. Being the first program in the state and one of the first by a fire-based agency in the country, this program meets patients where they are, providing critical medications to overcome opioid use and begin the path to recovery. The Milwaukee Fire Department and Greenfield Fire Department have both since joined the program.

Marcia P. Coggs Health and Human Services Center: In October 2023, Crowley and partners broke ground on the future Marcia P. Coggs Health and Human Services Center. For the first time in Milwaukee County history, DHHS will have a building designed specifically to deliver health and human services. The elimination of physical barriers to receive care will improve access to resources and services for families and individuals. Thanks to federal funding, the Marcia P. Coggs Center is scheduled to open in 2025.

Mental Health Efforts: Right next door to the future Coggs Center is the Mental Health Emergency Center, which Crowley’s administration relocated from Wauwatosa to the King Park neighborhood so the County could bring services closer to those who need them. This represents a first-of-its-kind public private partnership with regional health systems that is saving taxpayers money. During its first year of operations, the Mental Health Emergency Center served more than 7,000 individuals experiencing a mental health or substance use disorder related crisis. Crowley and DHHS also deployed Mental Health Navigators throughout the community, as well as opened additional mental health clinics and crisis stabilization houses to ensure people can receive the help they need.

Behavior Health Services Redesign: Crowley and DHHS are leading the restructuring of the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Services Division along a continuum that includes services in outpatient clinics, residential treatment facilities, mobile units, the Mental Health Emergency Center, and the Granite Hills psychiatric hospital. This also includes Milwaukee County opening three behavioral health access clinics to continue expanding mental health and substance use disorder services, including most recently on the city’s northwest side.

Forensic Science and Protective Medicine Facility: In 2023, Crowley and partners broke ground on the Forensic Science and Protective Medicine Facility in Wauwatosa. This is the result of a significant collaboration with the State of Wisconsin and regional health system partners to create a desperately needed space for the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner and to enhance the operations of the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management.

Navigating the COVID-19 Pandemic: Inheriting leadership of the county in the midst of a global pandemic, Crowley acted decisively to ensure dissemination of accurate and accessible information and resources, guided by expert input. Putting science first, Crowley facilitated collaboration with community partners to pursue an equity-focused approach to vaccine and testing availability and health communication. The county established one of the largest vaccination sites in the county at Kosciuszko Park, administering thousands of vaccines with a focus on underserved populations, as well as providing care to individuals with difficulty leaving their homes.

Office of Equity: Crowley created the Milwaukee County Office of Equity, formerly the Office on African American Affairs, to advance equity-based policies in the community. Under Crowley’s leadership, the Office of Equity compiled an online Racial Equity Toolkit that reflects all county-wide equity efforts and led a case study on community resilience efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Office of Economic Inclusion: Crowley renamed the Community Business Development Partners into the Milwaukee County Office of Economic Inclusion, reiterating their focus on increasing diverse contracting opportunities at Milwaukee County for minority-owned businesses and local workers.

Expanding Housing Access in Milwaukee County

Affordable Housing: At Crowley’s direction, the DHHS Housing Division funded the largest number of affordable housing projects in Milwaukee County’s history. Crowley’s administration provided $19 million in funding for affordable housing expansion across Milwaukee County.

Homeownership Opportunities: In partnership with Habitat for Humanity and the Emem Group, Milwaukee County and partners are putting the final touches on over 100 new homes in the King Park neighborhood, near the future Coggs Center and a soon-to-be revitalized community center at King Park. Once those homes are complete, the development team will be connecting with first-time homebuyers, so more families, and particularly families of color, can achieve the dream of homeownership.

Addressing Homelessness: DHHS is continuing efforts to address homelessness through its Housing First approach. In 2023, Milwaukee County had the second lowest unsheltered population per capita in the nation. Milwaukee County’s Housing Navigators are out in the community everyday meeting folks where they are to connect them with stable housing, resources, and supportive services.

Enhancing Public Transit and Local Roadways

Bus Rapid Transit: MCTS launched the first Bus Rapid Transit line in Milwaukee County. After launching last summer, CONNECT 1 is already in the top 10 most popular routes within the MCTS system, attracting nearly double the number of riders per day. Crowley and MCTS are now envisioning the next step of public transit in Milwaukee County through the second BRT line that will operate along 27th Street from Oak Creek to Glendale.

Supporting Transit Operations: In the 2024 budget, Crowley allocated an additional $17 million for MCTS to help sustain current transportation services and enhance transit security operations. MCTS is also investing in ADA-compliant bus pads, adding new clean diesel buses to the fleet, and deploying the largest investment in County history to address transit security.

Highway Maintenance Facility Groundbreaking: Crowley, local officials, and stakeholders celebrated the groundbreaking for Milwaukee County’s future Highway Maintenance Facility that will enhance transportation service delivery in the North Region of Milwaukee County.

Supporting Parks and the Environment

Supporting Local Parks: Crowley reversed a long trend of budget reductions to Milwaukee County Parks. Since Crowley took office, his administration has deployed $92 million for Milwaukee County Parks capital projects. He also added 60 full time positions to the department. Milwaukee County Parks has also generated hundreds of thousands of dollars through golf, beer gardens, and events to sustain critical County services. Every dollar raised is one less dollar paid by taxpayers throughout Milwaukee County.

Milwaukee County Climate Action Plan: Crowley’s administration created the framework for the Milwaukee County Climate Action Plan, with a goal to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, while advancing equity, justice, and resilience in the community. This framework helped inform the Lighting Jobs Program, which was funded through the American Rescue Plan Act, where the County is creating career pathways for local youth by training them to install energy efficiency enhancements in Milwaukee County buildings.

Healthy County Challenge: In 2022, Crowley, in partnership with the Milwaukee Parks Foundation, launched the Healthy County Challenge – an annual slate of events in Milwaukee County Parks throughout the summer to promote healthy activities. Following health challenges like COVID-19, which were exasperated by overlapping factors such as racial inequality, poverty, and mental health struggles, Crowley launched this initiative to help the community collectively recover. Events, which have collectively attracted hundreds of Milwaukee County residents, have included group bike rides, hikes throughout the parks, yoga, golf tournaments, park clean ups, community pool days, and more.

Promoting Public Safety

Addressing Reckless Driving: Crowley worked with all municipalities to sign onto a collective effort to combat reckless driving and make local streets safe for everyone. Following this action, Crowley unveiled the County’s motor vehicle collision dashboard to bring the data to the forefront of the reckless driving conversation. The Milwaukee County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) released the first-ever Transportation Safety Assessment Report, as part of the Complete Communities Initiative. The report, paired with the data displayed in the County’s motor vehicle collision dashboard, gives policymakers a clear grasp of where crashes are occurring, to whom, and the causes behind each collision. Crowley and MCDOT also secured new federal funding to deploy street safety improvements in Greendale, Shorewood, South Milwaukee, Wauwatosa, and West Allis.

Correctional Officer Recruitment and Retention: Crowley approved an increase in Correctional Officer (CO) pay to a minimum of $30 per hour, which is the highest starting pay for COs across Wisconsin counties. This, combined with the rebranding of the House of Correction into the Community Reintegration Center (CRC), has delivered significant improvements in CO staffing rates. The CO vacancy rate at the CRC has dropped from over 40% in January 2023 to 12% in April 2024. The CO vacancy rate at the Milwaukee County Jail is now 7%, compared to an approximate 50% vacancy rate in past years.

Occupational Job Training at CRC: In 2023, Crowley, along with Employ Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Community Justice Council, and Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC), announced the return of occupational skills training to the CRC.

Free Phone/Video Calls at CRC and Milwaukee County Jail: Crowley’s 2024 budget provides free phone calls and video time for individuals at both the CRC and the Milwaukee County Jail so people can stay in touch with their loved ones, which has been proven to reduce recidivism rates and enhance outcomes upon reentry to society.

Facilitating EMS Services: Last year, Crowley celebrated 50 years of partnership between Milwaukee County and the Medical College of Wisconsin in overseeing 9-1-1 care and emergency medical services for the county. The Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management provides medical oversight for our EMS system, one of the largest systems in the country, boasting high quality patient care, novel community engagement through health communication and data sharing, and significant contributions to moving forward the field of prehospital medicine.

Engaging Milwaukee Youth

Credible Messenger Program: Crowley created the Credible Messenger Program to provide mentorship, life-coaching, family resources, and more to local youth who’ve been involved in group-based conflict and gun violence throughout Milwaukee County. Last year, Crowley expanded this effort to add a specific focus on serving young girls, including addressing their unique needs and helping to prevent contact with the youth justice system. Also, in his last budget, Crowley allocated more than $2 million in funds to support youth justice programs that will help reduce recidivism, including the Credible Messenger program.

Milwaukee County Youth Commission: In 2022, Crowley and Board Chairwoman Marcelia Nicholson co-authored a resolution to revive the Milwaukee County Youth Commission. The commission exists to serve and advance the interests of Milwaukee County youth, make advisory recommendations about policy and budgetary decisions to the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, and advance Milwaukee County’s mission of achieving racial equity.


(414) 278-4211 | fax: (414) 223-1375
Milwaukee County Courthouse, Room 306
901 N. 9th Street | Milwaukee, WI 53233

This site is powered by the Northwoods Titan Content Management System



Looking for Milwaukee County Services?

Visit Milwaukee County