Saturday, October 1st, 2016

An election without a Kathy Nickolaus story is impossible

5

So the other night when I was at the Waukesha County Courthouse getting the election results from County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus, Twitter followers from both the left and the right really only had one question, “What is she doing there?” Milwaukee radio talk show host Charlie Sykes even wondered why Nickolaus wasn’t in a witness protection program.

Turns out, Waukesha County Executive Dan Vrakas wants to know why Kathy Nickolaus was there, too.

Left to right: Darryl Enriquez, me, Jeff Christensen of the Democratic Party. Photo by Charles Auer.


“I’d prefer that she wasn’t here on election night but I can’t ban her from the building anymore than I can ban anyone else from the building,” Vrakas said Wednesday. “If she insists on coming out of her office handing out pieces of paper with the results on it, taking credit, I think that’s disappointing frankly.

“I’m very disappointed because I believe our goal has been and continues to be to restore the integrity of the way that we report on election night and I’m not going to take credit for that; certainly don’t believe she should take credit for that,” Vrakas said. “I think that credit goes to the municipal clerks who put in the extra effort last night when the polls closed. It belongs to the deputy clerk and our (information technology) people.”

Nickolaus didn’t respond to calls and an email to her office Wednesday.

Vrakas asked Nickolaus last month to turn the duties for Tuesday’s recall primary and June 5 recall election over to Deputy Clerk Kelly Yaeger or he would publicly call for her resignation. Nickolaus agreed to turn over duties to Yaeger but Nickolaus said she would still be involved in the election night process. Vrakas confronted Nickolaus after results from the April 3 election weren’t posted on the county’s website until well after midnight and results posted outside her office resembled rows on long grocery receipts. Nickolaus blamed the delay on computer problems.

The pool of reporters at the county’s Administration Center on Tuesday night were initially frustrated that no one from the clerk’s office would make any comments. No one from Vrakas’ office was there until Shawn Lundie, the county executive’s chief of staff, showed up at about 10:30 p.m., after all the results were handed out and posted on the county’s website.

The flip side of the question is why wasn’t anyone there from Vrakas’ office until 10:30 PM? Vote totals in Waukesha are a continuing public relations nightmare. It would probably be a good idea if someone skipped the victory party and joined the rest of us at the courthouse waiting for the potential election night meltdown.

Jeff Christensen had cookies, and the WTMJ guys had a flask (the courthouse x-ray technician showed me the video). That’s enough right there for a pretty good victory party.

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