Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus, widely criticized over the conduct of elections in her county, announced Saturday she has decided not to seek re-election in November. But the embattled clerk said in a prepared statement that she would not relinquish “any authority or responsibility” for upcoming elections through the end of her term because “I am the Waukesha County constitutional officer charged with the responsibility of elections.” After problems in the election earlier this month, Nickolaus reportedly agreed under pressure from County Executive Dan Vrakas to cede election responsibilities to her deputy for the upcoming recall races. Her campaign manager said Saturday she “never ever agreed to hand over the responsibility given to her constitutionally as clerk” to administer the elections. “Kathy is still in charge,” said the manager, Dan Hunt, adding Nickolaus was unavailable for comment.
The deputy clerk will serve as liaison between municipal clerks and county clerks, oversee election result processes and make sure the results are reported to the Government Accountability Board, Hunt said. “This reflects the agreement between the county clerk and county executive,” he added. Vrakas issued a statement after Nickolaus announced she wouldn’t run for re-election this fall.
“Our goal all along has been to restore public confidence in our elections,” Vrakas said. “The Clerk’s announcement does not affect our plans to improve the election process. I remain committed to doing whatever I can to ensure our elections are smoothly run and that the unofficial vote totals on election night are tabulated accurately and released to the public in a timely manner.” In her written statement Saturday, Nickolaus said she was making the announcement now “so that a qualified candidate will have the time required to mount an effective campaign.”