Elected officials begin to take office in new year

This January, a number of prominent Wisconsin politicians shift into new roles and act on promises they have made to constituents.

Walker takes the governorship

On Jan. 3, Scott Walker officially began his term as Wisconsin’s new governor. In his inaugural address, he stated he was not the governor of a specific party or area, but to every individual in the state.

He also addressed his goals of job creation, improving the education system and protecting natural resources. Walker cited the importance of following the fundamental principles of Wisconsin’s constitution and the United States government.

“More than 162 years after the writing of this constitution, we stand ready to chart a new course for our great state,” Walker said. “We look to the past not to lay blame, but for inspiration. And we look forward to the solutions that will help us reach new levels of economic prosperity.”

Since the inauguration, Walker has already released five pieces of legislation. According to a press release issued by Cullen Werwie, spokesman for Walker, the five bills would create a business and job-friendly legal environment, make health savings accounts more affordable and make a variety of changes to taxes. In all cases, Walker promises not to raise taxes.

Walker is also seeking a regulatory reform package, which would include a restriction on wind farm development. Currently, there must be 1,250 feet between a wind turbine and the nearest property line. The new mandate would call for 1,800 feet between, which is problematic in more densely populated areas.

Other aspects of the reform package include an easier process for building on wetlands in Brown County and more power to the governor in writing administrative rules.

County Executive post in flux

Walker’s temporary successor as County Executive, Lee Holloway, has a 30-day period in which little change can be made. On Jan. 27, the interim County Executive to fill the remainder of Walker’s term will be named.

E. Marie Broussard, deputy chief of staff for Holloway, said there is a possibility that he will appoint himself as interim County Executive, but is keeping his options open.

“As with many things in life, a decision one way or another has pros and cons,” Broussard said. “If he names himself as the interim, he relinquishes his seat of chairman on the County Board but has a longer time period to take action. If he doesn’t, he is still the chairman and can still carry out an agenda.”

The five candidates for the post will have a debate at Marquette’s Law School on Friday.

Barrett returns to mayoral role

In another transition, Tom Barrett is readjusting from campaigning to his role as Milwaukee mayor. Following Walker’s inauguration, Barrett expressed his support for the governor.

“I am committed to moving Milwaukee forward and am hopeful that by working with Governor Walker, his cabinet and the Legislature that my commitment will be shared,” Barrett said in a statement.

In his role as mayor, Barrett will continue to work toward goals from his 2011 Proposed Executive Budget Speech delivered last September. These focuses include job creation, creating a “world-class infrastructure” and economic recovery through fiscal sustainability.