September 11, 2019 – Washington Co., WI – With two Washington County Supervisors absent, (Roger Kist and Brian Gallitz) the County Board voted for a second time on a resolution to change the form of government to an elected county executive, rather than an appointed county administrator.It was June 12, 2019 when the Washington County Board voted 13-13 on a resolution to create a county executive position. A tie vote resulted in failure of the motion.
Electronic vote above from June 12, 2019 meeting 13-13 tie.
Two short weeks later, the issue was brought back for review. On Friday, June 28 Supervisors Chris Jenkins, Russ Brandt and William Symicek requested a county executive resolution be placed on the July 10 county board meeting for reconsideration.
During the Wednesday, Sept. 11 meeting the County Board voted 13 – 11 to approve creating an office of County Executive of Washington County.
This means in April 2020 there will be a race for the seat for Washington County Executive. So far county administrator Joshua Schoemann has not indicated if he will run for the post. He said he’s going to take a couple days and then make a statement on his decision.
A quick look at some of the change in vote since June:
District 1 Supervisor Kristine Deiss changed her vote from an initial ‘nay’ on June 12 to a ‘aye’ on Sept. 11.
District 4 Supervisor Chris Jenkins, who requested the issue be brought back for review, voted ‘nay’ twice on the issue.
District 10 Supervisor William Symicek, who also requested the issue be brought back for review, voted ‘aye’ twice.
District 16 Supervisor Russel Brandt, who also requested the issue be brought back, changed his vote from a June 12 ‘nay’ to a ‘aye’ on Sept. 11.
District 22 Supervisor Rock Brandner changed his vote from a June 12 ‘aya’ to a Sept. 11 ‘nay.’
A couple notes as the process moves forward:
Supervisor Jenkins – “I brought it back and then voted against it a second time because it still deserved time to do the research and get feedback but for me I feel our electorate voting has pretty limited knowledge on county government. To me now laying this task on the people in the county to have this very important vote, honestly it scares me a bit. So now that it’s past there’s going to have to be a lot of education on what sort of role (county executive) this is. I also feel the difference in position is we will now be tasking the operations of the county to someone who wins a popularity contest. There’s a role for that in democracy but I hope we find a balance. Finally I thought it was brought up initially because we lacked leadership. I love Joshua Schoemann (current county administrator) and if he decides to run that will be great but I worry about the monster we just created has just opened the position to anyone who wants to run. Education of the electorate is going to need to be done.”
Voting in favor of now changing the county administrator position to an elected county executive position means the county just violated the terms of Joshua Schoemann’s contract. It means the county will have to pay him $130,000 because of a violation of the original terms of agreement.
Schoemann has been on tour the past year and a half talking about the dire situation of the county’s fiscal health. He’s often compared it to “falling off a financial cliff.”
A question was posted to supervisors about how they could vote to spend $130,000 in taxpayer money in this fashion.
Supervisor Jenkins – “I don’t know. I didn’t vote for it.”
Supervisor Kristine Deiss – “That is a legal binding contract. But what would happen down the road? I don’t think you can equate changing this form of government into the dollar and cents because the supervisors knew that was going to be a cost but I don’t equate that to the decision that had to be made because the decision affects our future and how this county will be run and that’s the bigger picture… as far as I’m concerned.”
Supervisor Peter Sorce – “It’s all Communism. I asked one question, let’s bring in some guys from Milwaukee and let’s talk to them and they told me to go screw myself. That’s the kind of a board we have.”
Click HERE for a list of county supervisors and their phone numbers. Below is a video from the fiscal health of the county/POWTS discussion from August 2019.
Click HERE for more details from the August meeting the county’s structural defect and the challenges caused by annual expenses outpacing property tax limits.
On a side note: The County Board did not take up the POWTS issue. It was actually removed from the agenda as the county executive vote was expected to take up a majority of the meeting.