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Primary Election Preview: Waukesha County Clerk

Tuesday's primary election is among three area candidates – Kathleen Novack, Kathleen Karalewitz and Gina Kozlik – who look to be Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus' successor.

The three candidates running for the Waukesha County clerk’s post on the Republican ticket all want to see election night result reporting improved while restoring public trust and confidence in the office.

Election night snafus are well documented in the clerk’s office. Under intense scrutiny, Waukesha County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus decided she was Meanwhile, costs to

is among problems. But the biggest problem was in the April 2011 State Supreme court election when in unofficial results reporting to the Associated Press on election night.

The error flipped the winner in the razor-thin election from then-Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg, who had declared victory, to incumbent Justice David Prosser.

Whoever wins Tuesday’s primary election still has to make it through the November election. Democratic candidate is also in the predominantly Republican county.

Kathleen Karalewitz

, 51, is currently the clerk/treasurer and administrator for the Town of Mukwonago. She’s worked in government since graduating from Waukesha South High School, holding positions with Waukesha County, Menomonee Falls and Town of Waukesha. Having served as deputy clerk in the Waukesha County clerk’s office, she called for uniformed equipment and the ability for municipalities to send results into the county electronically.

In the 21st century, there are technologies available to reduce the problems in the county clerk’s office, she said.

“I can restore the integrity of the election process in this county,” said Karalewitz. “I have done the job before.”

Karalewitz said she plans to work with the Waukesha County executive’s office and the County Board to make that happen. She also realizes the clerk’s office is tasked with other responsibilities, such as ordinances, open records and marriage and dog licenses.

“There is a lot of things that go into this job, not just elections, but it is elections at the forefront,” Karalewitz said.

Because she’s been involved in municipal government for many years, she feels she will have a step up on other candidates when it comes to a “learning curve” for being in office. Karalewitz’s ready to hit the ground running “because I already know it,” she said.

“I will work tirelessly, and I mean tirelessly,” Karalewitz said. “It will be a lot of work. I am committed to the electors of this county to make sure we have election equipment we can trust like we had years ago.”

Gina Kozlik

, 45, the deputy clerk/treasurer in the City of Waukesha for four years, worked for years as a paralegal throughout the area, including as a court supervisor in the civil branch in the Waukesha County Circuit Court.

Kozlik was the last to enter the race, but she said she wanted to make sure seeking the clerk’s seat was the right thing for her and her family.

“I had been thinking about it for sometime,” she said. “Doing the job is what drove me to run, because I felt I was the person to do it. I knew there were ther aspects, time involved campaigning, and I had to split my time doing my job for the city.”

Improved result reporting will the number one priority for the clerk, Kozlik said.

In addition to running elections for the biggest municipality in the county, Kozlik also works with billing Waukesha residents and business owners for the taxes, including collections for installments of the taxes. She touted her work in government, with databases and managing staff members in addition to her election experience.

“That needs to get squared away pretty quickly,” Kozlik said. “I don’t think it will be that difficult. The municipal clerk’s have been putting the results in, and that has been working well.”

Kozlik said her only concern is the need for enhancements using the Government Accountability Board’s website. Additionally, she realizes the need to work with the county’s Information Technology Department to provide secure election results.

“It is going to be a team effort,” said Kozlik, who plans to work with all the departments in the county, including with budgets and getting verification processes in place.

Kathleen Novack

, 61, a City of Pewaukee alderwoman who holds a master’s degree from DePaul University described herself as an outsider in the county clerk’s race. She’s worked for decades dealing with federal and state tax statutes, having been employed by the IRS before her retirement in 2003. Working out of the Midwest appeals office, she held high-level positions such as chief of the appeals office.

Novack said because she’s an outsider, she doesn’t have any preconceived ties to any groups working to elect candidates into office.

“Coming in with a fresh, total new start in the office is a real advantage,” Novack said.

The increased publicity of election night vote reporting problems lead to Novack’s decision to run for county clerk. Working with the public and the media to restore trust in the office will be a priority, she said.

“I felt there was a definite need for a new county clerk with all the problems we are having,” Novack said. “I had the really strong credentials and background to come in and work to make those improvements.”

Whoever is elected as county clerk will have a lot of work to do, she said.

“I bring a very unique combination of experience and educational credentials that really match what I see as the challenge of the job,” Novack said. “I think you need somebody that is not just able to run the internal pieces of a clerk’s office but is also able to work well in collaboration with the county executive’s office, with the county board, with other elected officials. That is a lot to be able to do that.”

Public Support Lies With Karalewitz, Kozlik

In the battle for the Republican nomination, high-profile names have been weighing in on the race. Karalewitz has received support from several high-profile county Kozlik’s been

They’ve both received letters to the editor on their behalf; however, one was

If you want to submit a letter to the editor, upload it here.

Letters to the Editor – Karalewitz

Letters to the Editor – Kozlik

Candidate biographies

Patch asked each candidate to complete a biographical questionnaire for voters.

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Sarah Millard August 11, 2012 at 05:29 AM
It's set in our state as a partisan position. Should the seat be changed to be a non-partisan race, such as a mayor's race?
RockyRun August 11, 2012 at 07:18 AM
First - the only reason you saw any public support for either was because their campaign managers wrote in for them or got 1 or 2 other people to write. I've seen nothing I'd really call "public support" for either. Second, while it is a partisan race and Novack has been a member of the Republican party for a long time, she is very new to Waukesha County government. To ensure she stays impartial and independent she is TOTALLY PAYING FOR HER OWN CAMPAIGN. She did not ask for donations and did not accept donations that were offered to her - that's why her total campaing fund was "1,000 or less in Laurel Walker's article in the Journal Sentinel. Karalewicz has $11,000 and Kozlik has $3100. What on earth for! Who donated all that money! What do they expect. Being an outsider, and with the two insider groups fighting it out for their two insider candidates, maybe Novack is in a much stronger position that the insiders may think. She's has by far the most leadership and professional management experience, the best academic credetntials, extensive communications skills and public relations experience and a proven commitment to her community. And for you voters who also aren't "on the inside" - she'll be there representing you!
Jason Allen August 12, 2012 at 02:21 AM
Didnt Karalewitz make a sudden exit from the Town of Waukesha? Didn't she also need a lawyer to defend her actions during an election with "funny business" Why isnt she disclosing entire recent employment history accurately? Here is the Menomonee Falls episode.. Seems like Ole' Kathy Karalewitz should be explaining her past a little clearer..copy and paste(the next line) http://brookfield-wi.going.com/blog_posts/picture-this into your web browser. I will post the article in my next post due to character limit
Jason Allen August 12, 2012 at 02:23 AM
Picture this... Election night polls are closed and instead of returning important election results to the County for release to the media, a municipal clerk decides to go to another municipality to "waste time". She then shows up almost 4 hours after the polls are closed, delaying the release to the media. Whenasked if there were any complications, she states, "Returning the results to the County was not my priority". After being questioned further, this municipal clerk said she was finishing absentee ballots and that was the reason for her delay. After reviewing the poll book, it was evidenced that only 5 absentee ballots were processed after the last person voted in person. Now, move to the next day, when, by law, all election supplies must be ruturned to the County Clerk by 4 p.m. This clerk did not comply with the requirement for nearly 2 weeks...and only after repeated requests! In addition, this clerk has had a formal complaint filed with the GAB for improper documentation while working in another municipality. You may be asking, "Who is this candidate?"It is Kathy Karalewitz, running for the position of County Clerk of Waukesha County. What I find amusing is her tag line states "Restoring the trust and integrity to our elections". Really? Based on her past experiences, there is a huge lack of integrity. And with lack of integrity, there is a lack of trust. Rick Beringer
Jason Allen August 12, 2012 at 02:23 AM
Perhaps reporters could be informing the public about this before election day

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