County will have new clerk come fall
Eyes across the state have been fixed on the voting troubles that have plagued Waukesha County. With County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus opting not to seek re-election, four newcomers are vying for her position: Kathleen Karalewitz of Dousman, Kathleen Novack of Pewaukee, Jessie Read of Sussex and Gina Kozlik of Hartland. Voters will cast their ballots in the Aug. 14 primary election.
With 30 years of government work and 25 years of election experience, "those who vote for me will be voting for the candidate who has the most years of experience in both county government and local government," said Karalewitz. That experience is what it will take to restore integrity in the election process and the trust of Waukesha County voters, she added.
Karalewitz served as director of clerk services for the Village of Menomonee Falls, from1998-2009, was clerk-treasurer for Town of Waukesha from 2010-11 and has been administrator/clerk-treasurer for the Town of Mukwonago since 2011.
Karalewitz said that in addition to extensive knowledge of elections, she has firsthand knowledge of the statutory duties of the county clerk, including open-meeting and open-records laws, marriage and dog-license laws and an understanding of ordinances and resolutions. Karalewitz also has experience training election inspectors and chief election inspectors statewide.
She said the biggest problem facing the county is the "lack of trust and integrity in the electoral process." With many years of experience in county and local government, "I know what it takes to make sure that the citizens of Waukesha County can once again have elections they can trust," she said.
Years of managing large offices, working with fellow senior managers and acting as spokeswoman for agencies before the media "have given me the firsthand experience the next clerk will need to face the tough scrutiny ahead," said Novack, who is a member of the City of Pewaukee Common Council. Novack held that office from 2006-09, and 2010 to the present.
Her 10 years experience in Washington, D.C., at the policy level "has given me the confidence required to work successfully in a high-charged political environment," she said.
Novack added that the next clerk "will face the daunting challenge of rebuilding the reputation of Waukesha County's election process within the county and state."
To do this, Novack said she would conduct elections with office members directly involved, draw on the experience of IT professionals and build relationships within the county and state, as well as the media.
"I would establish positive, open lines of communication with the County Executive's Office, the County Board, county municipal clerks, fellow county clerks, the general public and the media," said Novack.
Novack said she is a determined self-starter. During her career, Novack has held increasingly responsible positions and led offices in Washington, D.C., and six states, she said.
In looking at a new county clerk, she said, "professional credentials and experience are imperative."
Read said she is "dismayed by the apparent lack of transparency and inattentive practices being displayed by the current county clerk."
"I will bring transparent and secure organizational structure to this office," she added, and will manage the office and election process in a nonpartisan manner.
Since she has no previous experience in a governmental clerk's office, Read says she offers a "fresh perspective on how this office should be managed."
She added that she is researching and interviewing local municipal clerks, other nearby clerks and the Government Accountability Board to find the best procedures and practices for recording elections.
"I want to be a true public servant to the people of Waukesha County," said Read.
She also said her experiencing in accounting, along with organizational skills "provide the background needed to run an efficient office."
She is the owner of JRR Bookkeeping Service.
"Restoring public confidence in the election process will be my primary goal," said Kozlik, who is now City of Waukesha deputy clerk-treasurer.
Among her qualifications, Kozlik said she has four years' experience managing election administration for the City of Waukesha and another 20 years in government experience.
Kozlik was also formerly Waukesha County clerk of courts court supervisor.
"What has made me successful in government is my legal and private sector experience and the ability to bring a fresh perspective," said Kozlik.
Kozlik said she could do better than Nickolaus at providing an analysis of election reporting. She said that "the improved use of technology needs to be done collaboratively with the Government Accountability Board, the county IT departments, the election software vendor and local clerks to find the most-effective reporting process."
She suggested implementing multiple testing requirements before every election to prevent potential failures, and implementing a verification process to check results before releasing them to ensure votes are accurately reported. Finally, she said, "I would additionally provide open and honest communication in response to questions about procedures to rebuild public trust."
"I am the only candidate that is a degreed, certified professional with the private and public experience to overcome status quo," Kozlik said. Her legal experience gives her the ability to understand and comply with statutory provisions and legislative actions.
"I bring strong character, broad experience and the support and respect of fellow municipal clerks," she said.
Address: S45 W33794 Drumlin Drive, Dousman
Resident since: 1967
Previously elected offices: Waukesha County deputy clerk, 1990-98; director of clerk services for Village of Menomonee Falls, 1998-2009; clerk-treasurer for Town of Waukesha 2010-11
Current office held: Administrator/clerk-treasurer for the Town of Mukwonago since 2011
Unsuccessful tries for office: Waukesha County clerk, 2000
Current employer: Town of Mukwonago
Education/certification: Certified municipal clerk through the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay; certified by Wisconsin Governmental Accountability Board to train election inspectors and to certify chief inspectors to perform elections
Organizations: Waukesha County Republican Party, Waukesha County Republican Women, Wisconsin Municipal Clerks Association, International Municipal Clerks Association
Address: N29 W26628 Peterson Drive, Pewaukee
Resident since: 1996
Current office held: City of Pewaukee alderwoman, 2006-09 and 2010-present
Unsuccessful tries for office: City of Pewaukee alderwoman, 2009
Present employer: Retired from senior-level management for the federal government
Education: Bachelor’s degree in accounting from Millikin University; master’s degree in taxation from DePaul University
Organizations: Waukesha County Community Development Block Grants Board, Pewaukee Area Historical Society, Woman’s Club of Pewaukee, IRS Retirees Association, Vagabond Ski and Social Club
Address: N71 W24433 Good Hope Road, Sussex
Resident since: 1998
Present employer: Owner of JRR Bookkeeping Service
Education: Bachelor’s degree in math from DePauw University, 1981; master’s degree in accounting from Purdue University, 1986
Organizations: Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice, Clan Donnachaidh Society Upper Midwest, Community Shares of Greater Milwaukee, Presbyterian of Milwaukee Presbyterian Foundation; Wauwatosa Presbyterian Church
Address: N75 W27323 Oakwood Road, Hartland
Resident since: 2000
Current office: City of Waukesha deputy clerk-treasurer
Previous government employment: Waukesha County clerk of courts court supervisor, Waukesha city attorney paralegal, Milwaukee County district attorney paralegal, child support enforcement paralegal
Present employer: City of Waukesha
Education: Bachelor’s degree in communications with a business minor from Carroll University, paralegal associate’s degree from UW-Green Bay Municipal Clerks Institute
Organizations: International Institute of Municipal Clerks; Wisconsin Municipal Clerks Association; Municipal Treasurers Association of Wisconsin
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