With an office mired in controversy the past several years, two candidates are seeking to replace outgoing Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus in Tuesday's election.
Town of Lisbon Democrat Jessie Read will face off against Republican candidate City of Pewaukee Alderwoman Kathleen Novack to replace Nickolaus. Although they come from different backgrounds, both hold a common theme of restoring integrity to the office if they're re-elected.
Read, 52, owns JRR Bookkeeping and said her business skills and experience would make her a strong candidate to become the new county clerk and serve the public.
"I'm promoting the idea that No. 1, I'm going to bring honesty and integrity into the office," she said. "I believe its been lacking lately and I've also got the the education and business background to bring competency back in as well."
A resident of Waukesha County since 1998, Read got her master's degree in business management from Purdue University and had done bookkeeping work for small businesses and non-profit entities throughout her career.
Read has never ran for public officer before, but said she was inspired to run for clerk after the April 2010 debacle where the office forgot to include votes from Brookfield and ended up reversing the results of a highly contentious state Supreme Court race.
Although she's running as a Democrat, Read said she will not allow partisan politics play a role in her job if elected.
"Yes, this is a partisan race and, yes, I'm running as a Democrat, but as far as I'm concerned party politics will not play a part in the management of that office," she said. "I'm going to really work to put processes and procedures in place to ensure transparency and fair counting of the votes."
Novack, 62, was first elected to the City of Pewaukee Common Council in 2006 and lost her re-election bid in 2009. She was elected again in 2010 and said she plans to run for another term even if elected county clerk unless it interferes with the county job.
"This position takes top precedent over the others," Novack said about the county clerk position.
A retired federal employee and county resident since 1996, Novack said she has the experience to lead the county because of her work on all levels of government coupled with her background in accounting.
Novack said she's also a leader with a strong personality who is passionate about jobs and organizations she gets involved with. As a local leader and a member of the Waukesha County Community Development Block Grant Committee, Novack said she also knows county leaders, which will make for a smooth transition if elected.
She said she was also inspired to run for the office after a string of election night snarls by Nickolaus and Novack said she wanted to be a strong challenger in case Nickolaus had decided to run for re-election.
"If I get into this job, I will give it my all," she said. "And I believe we can rebuild the county's election process."