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Capitol Update
By Senator Howard Marklein
February 22, 2019

Hiring the Leaders of State Agencies

My role in the Executive Appointment process

The State Senate has been very busy interviewing and meeting with the Secretary-Designees that have been chosen by Governor Tony Evers to lead the state agencies in Wisconsin. It is our job to confirm the Governor’s appointments as a check and balance among branches.
I do not take the confirmation process lightly. We are hiring these individuals to lead agencies that directly impact the day-to-day lives of the people, businesses and organizations I represent. While I may not agree with all of their priorities and strategies, these are the people whom the Governor has chosen to lead our state. These positions are important and influential. It is vital that I know who is leading the agencies and take time to connect with them personally.
Overall, the confirmation process requires the State Senate to vote on each Cabinet-level appointment. There must be a Public Hearing in a standing committee and a committee vote on the appointee before their nomination is considered before the full Senate. Once they have cleared these hurdles, the full Senate will consider their nomination and vote to approve or reject the appointment. Traditionally, we move confirmations along unless there are glaring issues. This is why the interview and meeting process is important.
In order to cast this vote, I have decided to interview and meet with each of the Secretaries.  My goal is to get to know them, learn more about their backgrounds and discuss their vision for their agency. I have also taken the opportunity to talk with several of the appointees about specific issues related to the 17th Senate District.
As Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Revenue and Financial Institutions, I held a public hearing on the three appointees before our committee on Tuesday, February 19, 2019. We met with Secretary Designees Peter Barca Department of Revenue (DOR); Brad Pfaff, Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP); and Kathy Blumenfield, Department of Financial Institutions (DFI).  Prior to the public hearing, I also met with each of the designees privately.
In addition to those appointees who appeared before my committee, I have been actively meeting with all of the other appointees.  Following is a list of the Governor’s appointments and their backgrounds. I remain concerned that the vast majority of appointees are from Madison and Milwaukee. This reality makes it even more important for me and my colleagues to connect with them in order to encourage their consideration of our communities. Life is very different in southwest Wisconsin.







Joel Brennan

CEO, Discovery World, Milwaukee

Ag, Trade, Consumer Protection


Brad Pfaff

Deputy Chief of Staff to Rep. Ron Kind, LaCrosse

Children and Families


Emilie Amundson

Evers’ Chief of Staff, Dept. of Public Instruction (DPI), Madison



Kevin Carr

Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Dept., US Marshall, Milwaukee

Financial Institutions


Kathy Koltin Blumenfeld

VP of Total Administrative Services, Madison

Health Services


Andrea Palm

Deputy Secretary– US Department of Health & Human Services, Washington, DC



Mark Afable

Chief Legal Officers – American Family Insurance, Madison

Natural Resources


Preston Cole

Natural Resources Board Member, Milwaukee

Public Service Commission


Rebecca Cameron Valcq

Partner at Quarles & Brady, Madison



Peter Barca

State Representative, Kenosha

Safety and Professional Services


Dawn Crim

Asst. State Superintendent – Div. of Student and School Success – DPI, Madison



Sara Meaney

Chief Marketing and Development Officer – Milwaukee Film, Milwaukee



Craig Thompson

Transportation Development Association, Madison

Veterans Affairs


Mary Kolar

Dane County Supervisor, Madison

WI Economic Development Corp.


Mark Hogan

Current CEO

Workforce Development


Caleb Frostman

State Senator, Door County Economic Development Corporation

Again, I am continuing to meet with the appointees. As your State Senator, I am asking each of the Governor’s appointees to keep our communities and the unique needs of rural Wisconsin top-of-mind.
For more information and to connect with me, visit my website http://legis.wisconsin.gov/senate/17/marklein and subscribe to my weekly E-Update by sending an email to Sen.Marklein@legis.wisconsin.gov. Do not hesitate to call 800-978-8008 if you have any questions or need assistance with any state-related matters.