I first met Kathleen Falk wandering the halls of MidWest Family Broadcasting in 1997, back when the studios were on Ski Lane on Madison’s South Side. She was about to be a guest on that bad-boy Sly’s morning talk show, and she was looking for a cup of coffee to fortify her. I knew who she was; so I introduced myself and asked her to follow me through the maze of hallways to the coffee pot.
We made small talk, and I led her back to the WTDY studio area, so she could face Sly’s interrogation. I do recall distinctly that on the way to Sly’s on-air studio, she asked for my vote in her campaign to become County Exec. Always the politician.
No one has held the job of Dane County Executive longer than Kathleen Falk (or, as her right-wing detractors call her, “The Kathleen”) and if you ask me, she’s done a pretty good job of running this wacky county. Budgets in line with inflation and growth; builder of coalitions and consensuses; famously direct with her department heads; skirmishes with the Sheriff over funding; notorious incident with the failures of the 9-1-1 dispatch center in the Brittany Zimmerman murder. On balance, she’s done well.
I just wish she didn’t want that damnable choo-choo so much.
By announcing her exodus now, it gives plenty of time for those who want the job to organize and make a case to the voters, although it looks like she’s going to have to clear out by December 28th to make the deadline to hold an election to replace her. Lots of names have been mentioned; we’ll see how that shakes out. But now that she’s a lame duck, don’t think for one minute it means her power and influence will be reduced.
Like her or not, you must acknowledge that Kathleen Falk is a leader. She builds support for her ideas and plans, and moves them forward. Now that she doesn’t have to please any particular coalition in a re-election campaign, she’s free to do a LOT of stuff she might not otherwise be able to do.
Beware the lame duck. She’s beholden to no one. And I hear that train a’comin’.