“A complete surprise” Godlewski optimistic about Secretary of State job

Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 6:21 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Wisconsin’s new secretary of state Sarah Godlewski is receiving criticism following her surprise appointment by Governor Tony Evers.

For 40 years Doug La Follette served as secretary of state of Wisconsin, that is until last week when Gov. Evers appointed Godlewski. This coming just three months after La Follette was reelected.

The former state treasurer and US Senate candidate said the offer was completely unexpected.

“If you would ask me, would I be your secretary of state just last week I would have said ‘No way,’ I mean, this was a complete surprise,” she said Friday. “When a governor asks you to serve, you step up and serve and I’m really honored that he asked me… to give me an opportunity to do this.”

Not everyone’s response to the transition was positive. Wis. State Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R- Oostburg) publicly criticized the Governor’s decision.

“This suggests a pre-meditated action to award the power of incumbency to a partisan ally. It is an insult to voters of Wisconsin and our democratic process,” LeMahieu said in a release last week. ““I call on the Governor to immediately call a special election to give the people of Wisconsin the opportunity to select their representative to fill this vacancy.”

Godlewski said the decision to appoint her was warranted.

“The people of Wisconsin elected the Governor to uphold the Constitution and the Constitution says that when a constitutional officer vacates office, he should appoint and that’s exactly what he’s doing,” she said. “The people of Wisconsin don’t want this back and forth, they just want you to serve.”

LeMahieu said Gov. Evers should appoint a current staff member from the Office of the Secretary of State, or a nonpartisan individual who will not run in the special election, to be interim secretary of state until a special election is completed.

According to state Statute 17.19, when a vacancy happens in the Office of Secretary of State, the governor appoints someone to the position and the person appointed will hold office until a successor is elected. If no election is held, the person appointed will continue to hold office until the term ends. This also applies for the offices of treasurer, attorney general and state superintendent.

Godlewski said she remains optimistic about her future in the position.

“For me, it’s just more about I think a new perspective and somebody who has new ideas and a new vision. And I always believed it’s the person that can really change these offices and so I look forward to rolling up my sleeves and doing that.”

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