Waukesha County needs new election equipment and County Exec. Dan Vrakas will seek $70,000 for the upgrade, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. But the real story has nothing to do with the money and everything to do with the appearance of partisan politics in Waukesha County.
According to the report by Laurel Walker, Dan Vrakas consulted with Kathleen Novack before creating his proposal for the upgrade. But Novack is not the county clerk, she is the Republican nominee for county clerk. Kathy Nickolaus holds that office until December 31, 2012.
And Vrakas did not consult with Novack’s Democratic opponent, Jessie Read.
Shawn Lundie, Vrakas’ chief of staff, said Vrakas included the new proposal after talking to Republican nominee for county clerk, Kathleen Novack, who concurred with its need. Democrat Jessie Read, her opponent in the November general election, was not similarly contacted, however.
Why would Dan Vrakas consult with Novack on matters related to the county clerk’s office at all?
I contacted Jeff Christensen, Democratic Chair of the 5th Congressional District, and his only response was, “this is in process.”
I’ll keep you posted.
Jeff Christensen, Democratic Chair of the 5th Congressional District, contacted Shawn Lundie on 8/29/12. Here is Christensen’s email, reprinted with permission:
This morning it was nice to see the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel coverage of the budgetary proposal in Waukesha County for additional election equipment. Certainly in a growing county such as Waukesha County, this is likely to be a wise expenditure. When we factor in the public concern over election process in our county it appears to be a no-brainer.
I was however, strongly disappointed by the reference in the article that the County Executive discussed this item with the Republican candidate, Ms. Novack and did not afford the same courtesy to the Democratic candidate, Ms. Read. In fact here is the section of the article I am referencing:
“Shawn Lundie, Vrakas’ chief of staff,said Vrakas included the new proposal after talking to Republican nominee for county clerk, Kathleen Novack, who concurred with its need. Democrat Jessie Read, her opponent in the November general election,was not similarly contacted, however.”
Now it was my deepest hope is that this was a simple oversight by the County Executive’s office and that if Ms. Read contacted the office, this same courtesy would be offered to her. After discussing this matter with Ms. Read, I was greatly disappointed that despite her reaching out to you personally, the same offer was not afforded to her.
I would love to hear the justification for a non-partisan office discussing official business with a non-elected candidate of one major party while denying the same platform to a candidate of the other major party. This would appear to be a protocol error at the least, or disrespectful and blatantly partisan at its worst.
In this case and others, wouldn’t it be proper business for non-elected candidates, regardless of party, to receive the same courtesies from our non-partisan elected officials when discussing official government business?
Will there be steps taken to not only offer Ms. Read the ability to receive the same official information as Ms. Novack has previously received from the County Executive in this case, but in all official county business moving forward?
Chair- 5th Congressional District
Democratic Party of Wisconsin
Jeff Christensen did not receive a response. However, Christensen’s email and the media coverage appear to have had an effect on Executive Vrakas’ initial behavior. From an article in the Journal Sentinel on 8/30/12:
New in the capital projects plan for next year’s budget is a $70,000 study countywide of election equipment with an eye toward acquiring uniform and efficient equipment by the 2014 governor’s election. Vrakas announced the study earlier this week, which will be done in consultation with whoever is elected county clerk in November.