Two days after Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk’s announcement she would step down from her position this April, the state says Falk may not be able to carry out her resignation as originally planned.
Reid Magney, spokesperson for Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board, said the special election for Falk’s replacement she had hoped would be held near the date of her resignation could not take place under Wisconsin statutes.
“The clerk cannot call for a special election for at least 49 days between the time the election is called for and the primary,” Magney said.
In an email, Falk spokesperson Joshua Wescott said Falk filed a request about the legal implications of resigning before she made her announcement this Monday.
The memo from the Dane County counsel Marcia MacKenzie said in the event of a resignation, the chair of the Dane County board, Sup. Scott McDonnell, District 1, would take over as the interim executive before the special election.
Wescott said Falk was acting on the legal advice of county officials when she made her decision to resign.
“The County’s Corporation Counsel had advised the County Executive prior to her announcement this week on the appropriate course of action, according to the state statutes,” Wescott wrote in the email. “This procedure maximizes the time frame so people can decide whether they’re going to run for this office and minimizes the cost to taxpayers so there doesn’t need to be an off-cycle election.”
MacKenzie said in the memo the current situation with Falk leaving in April, leaving adequate time for a special election before the resignation, is an unprecedented move for any Wisconsin county executive.
Sup. Al Matano, District 11, said the dynamic of the County Board would not change drastically if Falk steps down early.
“I didn’t even think about what the GAB brought up,” Matano said. “If Scott became county executive…the policy would stay much the same. They both are leaders in the progressive, Democratic tradition.”
Matano said in the event McDonnell takes over as executive, Supervisor John Hendrick, District 6, would take over as chair of the County Board.