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Evers Names First 4 Cabinet Members

Republicans Criticize Evers For Lack Of State-Wide Representation

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Governor-elect Tony Evers
Governor-elect Tony Evers at the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County in Madison on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018. Phoebe Petrovic/WPR

Wisconsin Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers has chosen four Milwaukee leaders to hold top-level cabinet positions in his new administration.

  • Discovery World Chief Joel Brennan will head the state Department of Administration. Brennan ran Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s 2002 gubernatorial campaign and 2004 campaign for mayor.
  • Milwaukee Neighborhood Services Commissioner Preston Cole will lead the state Department of Natural Resources. Cole has served on the DNR board for 12 years. He was the first African-American appointed to the Natural Resources Board.
  • U.S. Marshal Kevin Carr will serve as secretary of the state Department of Corrections. Before becoming a marshal in 2010, Carr spent 30 years in the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office.
  • Sara Meaney, chief marketing and development officer at Milwaukee Film, was named Evers’ tourism secretary.

Evers made the announcement Wednesday at MacDowell Montessori School in Milwaukee where he said it was his goal to bring highly talented people into his administration who could connect the dots.

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One of the themes Wednesday was science.

“We’re going to ensure we bring back science to the department of natural resources,” Evers said. “That we work across the state to reform our criminal justice system and address racial disparities, as well as improve public safety.”

Cole said he will restore transparency to the DNR. He said the current feeling in the department is politics overrules science.

“There has certainly been a change in attitude, there has certainly been apathy that anyone will listen,” Cole said. “I will represent those natural resource managers, those scientists to give them the light they so deserve to add light to natural resource management.”


From let to right, Sara Meaney, Kevin Carr, Tony Evers, Joel Brennan and Preston Cole at MacDowell Montessori School in Milwaukee. Corri Hess/WPR

Republicans criticized Evers for focusing too much on Milwaukee and Madison.

“Today’s appointments are further proof that Wisconsin Democrats are the party of only Milwaukee and Madison,” Republican Party of Wisconsin Executive Director Mark Morgan said in a written statement. “While Republicans in the Legislature will continue to work for and represent the interests of the entire state, Democrats have proven yet again they’re beholden to the interests of Madison and Milwaukee.”

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, released a statement congratulating the new secretaries. He said they appear to be “well-qualified but for the most part, lack significant state government experience.”

“Gov.-elect Evers’ outreach plan to take applications from across the state was cause for optimism, which is why I’m so greatly disappointed that his top four appointments were from Milwaukee,” Vos said.

Vos also took issue with Brennan’s sister-in-law being married to Kevin Conroy, CEO of Madison-based Exact Sciences Corp. Conroy is a member of Evers’ transition team.

Evers said he will make more appointments in the near future, which will stop any criticism. He said he announced the Milwaukee-based secretaries because he was in Milwaukee.

Evers believes his administration should look like the people of Wisconsin, and says this is a good start.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Preston Cole will be the first African-American to Lead the DNR. He was the first African-American appointed to the Natural Resources Board. The story was updated at 9:30 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018.

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