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Kathleen Falk is the current County Executive for Dane County, Wisconsin, serving her fourth term in that office since 1997. She was also a candidate in the race for office of Governor of Wisconsin in 2002 and for Attorney General in 2006. She will soon be succeeded by Dane County Executive-elect Joe Parisi.
Born in the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Falk grew up in Waukesha county and has lived in Madison since 1973. In that same year, she attended Stanford University and received a B.A. degree in Philosophy. In 1976, she received a law degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School. An avid baseball fan and bicyclist, Ms. Falk is married to Peter Bock, and is the proud mother of her son, Eric.
Early Political Career
From 1977 - 1983, Falk was the co-director and general counsel of Wisconsin's Environmental Decade, a statewide nonprofit citizens' environmental protection organization. Falk won nationally significant litigation to protect citizens' rights to utility rate cases.
Falk also served as Wisconsin's Public Intervenor from 1983 - 1995, where was was statutorily authorized to take a full range of legal actions to protect the public's rights in natural resources. This position was eliminated by former governor Tommy Thompson in 1995, mostly due to complaints from the State Republicans who were critical of her performance in that role.
In 1983 - 1997, she served as Assistant Attorney General in the Wisconsin Department of Justice where was was responsible for enforcing environmental law.
Run for County Executive (1997 - ???? )
Falk is currently County Executive for Dane County in Wisconsin, a position she has held since 1997. She was re-elected into this position in 2001, 2005, and recently in April 2009.
In the recent 2009 elections, she was challenged by conservative Nancy Mistele, who criticized Falk's two unsuccessful run for office as both Governor and Attorney General. In regards to the Brittany Zimmermann death case, Mistele criticized Falk's judgement and character, and told Channel 27 News on November 17, 2008, " Kathleen Falk's poor judgment cost a couple of lives." 
Term as Dane County Executive
Since 1997, Falk has severed as Dane County Executive and has been re-elected into office for three additional terms, including recently in 2009.
As stated on her Executive Resume from the Dane County website, she has created new Youth Resources Centers, expanded elderly nutrition programs, provided care and innovative programs for developmentally disabled children and adults, started a home visitation program for families with infants, and invested in programs that help families overcome drug and alcohol problems.
In 2002, Falk received a Community Open Space Partnership Green Ribbon Award for this initiative that "enhances economic vitality, sustains natural systems, connects people to the natural world, and increases individual and community wellbeing." [www.cityofdane.com]
In June 2003, her strong fiscal management policies have earned Dane County the coveted Triple A bond rating-one of only two counties in the state to have a AAA rating. In regards to this credit rating from Moody's Investment Service, Falk said, “The Triple A rating also means Dane County continues to be in excellent fiscal health. The County Board and I have worked hard and cooperatively to control spending and manage the budget carefully. It’s great to have that work recognized in ways that benefit Dane County taxpayers.” [www.cityofdane.com]
Most criticisms aimed at Falk comes from the controversy over the death of UW-Madison Junior Brittany Zimmermann who, before being killed in her apartment in April 2008, made a phone call to Dane County police that came back unresponsive. During a press release in May 2008, Falk defended the Dane County 911 Center and its director, Joe Norwick. She stated that even if police had been dispatched to Zimmermann's apartment, it would have been too late to save the student. She later went on to reassure the people of Dane County that they have a 911 Center that they can count on. Falk, who listened to a replay of Zimmermann's 911 phone call, admitted to hearing significant sounds of distress that should have alerted the dispatcher Rita Gahagan, who, even after the replay, claims that she still didn't hear anything of significance.
Falk has been criticized heavily for her leadership and for not implementing changes with the outdated equipment at the 911 Center when needed. Many critics believe that the outdated system caused the death of Brittany Zimmermann.
Zimmermann's parents Kevin and Jean Zimmermann and fiance Jordan Gonnering filed a lawsuit against Falk on January 13, 2009. The family claimed that Falk ignored MTG Management Consultants' plan in March 2004, which advised Falk to update the 911 Center's equipment. Falk denies these claims and reported to the Herald that the county had gone "above and beyond" MTG's recommendations; since MTG's report in 2004, Dane County has increased the 911 Center's operating budget by nearly $2 million.
Nancy Mistele, Falk's opponent during the 2009 County Executive Elections, writes in the online version of The Capital Times opinion page on January 19, 2009:
"In 2004, Falk refused to implement critical changes in Dane County's 911 system and the bitter fruit of her bad judgment and her asleep-at-the-switch leadership style has put all who depend on emergency services in Dane County at greater risk. Falk claims the money wasn't there. Yet there is no shortage of money when it comes to her buying up undevelopable wetlands in Dane County or spending over a million dollars on a manure digester while public safety goes begging. After she made two failed bids for statewide office during her 12 years on the job, many people are questioning whether Falk is genuinely committed to doing the job of Dane County executive." During the campaign for 2009 County Executive Elections, Mistele criticized Falk's oversight of the 911 Center and its involvement with Brittany Zimmermann. In one of her radio advertisements, she claims, "It was the negligence of Kathleen Falk that led to the death of Brittany Zimmermann." Mistele also drew back to Falk's unsuccessful runs for Governor in 2002 and Attorney General in 2006, and claimed that this shows Falk's heart isn't in her current job." 
When Falk proposed setting up a Conservation Fund in 2006 to improve water quality and to protect water resources, an overwhelming 75% of county voters agreed with her in a countywide referendum. Her work with the Conservation Fund continues today; she announced that the 2009 Dane County budget will include nearly $14 million for a number of lake and land conservation initiatives.
Run for Other Political Offices
Race for Governor
In 2002, Falk unsuccessfully ran for governor of Wisconsin in the Democratic primary against Tom Barrett (D) and Jim Doyle (D). She obtained 27% of the votes, and was beat by Barrett with 34% of the votes and Doyle with 38% of the votes. Falk would have been the first female Governor in Wisconsin history had she won this election.
Race for Attorney General
In 2006, Falk successfully ran against Democrat Peg Lautenschlager the Democratic primary for Attorney General, but then lost to the Republican candidate J.B. Van Hollen in a marginal defeat.