Milwaukee County Clerk Joseph Czarnezki won't seek re-election: "It's been an honor to serve"

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee County Clerk Joseph Czarnezki announced Wednesday, April 13th that he will not seek re-election this fall.

“It has been an honor to serve the people of Milwaukee County these past eight years and I am proud to have been a part of a positive transformation of the Office of the County Clerk,” Czarnezki said.

Czarnezki was elected Milwaukee County Clerk in 2008 and re-elected in 2012.

“As County Clerk, it has always been my goal to provide the highest quality services at the lowest cost to the taxpayers. During my tenure as County Clerk, I have modernized the Office of the County Clerk, improved and expanded customer service, increased efficiency, transparency and accountability, and reduced costs,” Czarnezki said.

County Clerk Czarnezki also took on numerous new responsibilities. These included administering elections, staffing County Board Committees, and implementing and administering the County (on-line) Legislative Information Center (CLIC), which provides the public with up-to-date information on legislation and meeting agendas and minutes, and streams county government meetings live via the internet.

“I have always prided myself on exemplary customer service,” Czarnezki said. “That’s why I expanded office hours and the county clerk website, improved customer service by accepting credit and debit cards for financial transactions, implemented the state domestic partnership declaration program and a new web-based marriage license application system, and helped standardize voting procedures across the county,” Czarnezki added.

As soon as the federal courts delivered their landmark decision on same sex marriage, County Clerk Czarnezki issued the first same sex marriage license in the state of Wisconsin and led the way to develop gender neutral forms needed to fully implement marriage equality in the state.

When a new state law designated County Clerk Czarnezki as the Executive Director of the Milwaukee County Election Commission, he was charged with administration of all Milwaukee County elections, and immediately went to work improving election processes and procedures.

Among Czarnezki’s notable accomplishments was leading the cooperative effort to purchase and deploy new uniform voting machines in all 19 Milwaukee County municipalities. He also developed and implemented a voter registration program in county offices and a voter photo ID media campaign to increase voter participation.

Czarnezki’s innovative transformation of the Office of the County clerk also includes:

• Reducing staff overtime – saving the taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars
• Establishing a college intern program
• Streamlining regulation of lobbyists by implementing on-line registration forms and publishing lobbying registration and expenditure reports on-line
• Increasing revenue through sales of Wisconsin DNR licenses and permits
• Eliminating the backlog in microfilming legislative files and marriage license applications, and replacing the antiquated microfilming process with digital imaging
• Eliminating the backlog in publishing county board proceedings and publishing proceedings on-line
• Implementing an email notification system for public meetings
• Streamlining the claims process with on-line claim forms
• Acquiring new computer hardware and software
• Auditing the Milwaukee County Code of General Ordinances to ensure accuracy

Czarnezki emphasized that these accomplishments were a team effort.

“I’d like to thank my staff, the members of the county board, the county executive, the many county employees, our municipal clerks, my fellow constitutional officers, and the people of Milwaukee County for their help and cooperation, and for the opportunity to be of service,” Czarnezki said.

While County Clerk, Czarnezki served as a member of the Wisconsin Legislative Council Special Committee on Local Service Consolidation; member of the Milwaukee County Technology, Efficiency, Accessibility and Modernization Committee; Vice Chair of the Wisconsin County Clerks Association Legislative Committee and; Executive Director of the Milwaukee County Election Commission.

Prior to his election as County Clerk, Joe Czarnezki was an elected member of the Wisconsin Assembly and Wisconsin Senate where he served as Chairman of the Senate Education Committee and as a member of the Joint Committee on Finance.