MADISON (WKOW) -- The waiting is finally over. Gov.-elect Scott Walker names his cabinet appointees, but one name is already drawing fire.
Her name's Cathy Stepp and she's set to take over the Dept. of Natural Resources. A former state senator, she's spent a lot of time slamming DNR over the years. But walker defended his pick, saying everybody on his cabinet will be focused on job creation.
"We're ready to go," Walker said, announcing his picks. "We're ready to roll."
Thursday's cabinet announcements came much later than those of previous administrations. But Walker said he took his time because he wanted to get it right.
"You're going to be much better off putting the right team together, six months, a year down the road, so that's exactly what we did," he said.
Some of the names are blasts from the past, including former Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch, who will lead the department of administration. Rick Chandler will head the Revenue Department -- a job he also had in 2003.
And Ben Brancel will lead the Dept. of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, a post he had under former-Gov. Tommy Thompson.
"I hope they're ready to hit the ground running," Rep. Peter Barca (D-Kenosha), incoming minority leader, said.
Barca says Democrats are willing to meet Walker halfway. But he's worried about a smooth transition given the late date of the cabinet appointments.
"Because of the lateness of appointments, particularly the secretary of commerce, obviously there has not be meetings with the outgoing team," Barca said.
But Walker shrugged off the concern.
"The other economic developments outside this current state Dept. of Commerce has been working with this transition team since day one," Walker said.
"I think it'll be a lot of scurrying about," Jeff Mayers, editor of WisPolitics.com, said.
Mayers said with the current secretaries already off the job, the incoming heads will be at a disadvantage.
"I've talked to people who've been in and out of government, been through transitions, they think that first couple weeks may be a little tougher because these folks weren't named earlier, weren't able to get into the departments themselves," Mayer said.
So far the most controversial pick is Cathy Stepp, a former DNR board member who critics have accused of being anti-environment. Newly elected Assemblyman Brett Hulsey says putting her in charge of DNR is like putting Lindsay Lohan in charge of a rehab clinic.
"The department of natural resources is going to uphold the laws of the state of Wisconsin," Hulsey said. "It's not going to go any further than the laws are. That's the expectation we have and I think that's a clear message."
Two local names are on Walker's team. Former Dane County Sheriff Gary Hamblin will head up the Dept. of Corrections. And former Oregon Assemblyman Brett Davis will run the Medicaid program for the state.
Here are the official announcements:
Secretary of the Department of Administration—Mike Huebsch has been the State Representative for the 94th Assembly District since 1994, serving as the Speaker of the Assembly and sitting on the Joint Committee on Finance for a portion of his tenure.
"I'm looking forward to working with Governor-elect Walker and the fantastic cabinet he has chosen. The individuals he has appointed understand the challenge we have before us and are ready to get Wisconsin working again."
Secretary of the Department of Commerce—Paul Jadin served as the President of the Green Bay Area Chamber of Commerce and the Mayor of Green Bay.
"I support Walker's vision for the future Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and will be working to ensure this new public-private approach to economic development directly leads to new jobs in Wisconsin."
Secretary of the Department of Health Services—Dennis Smith served as the head of the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services under Secretaries Thompson and Leavitt and as a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
"Wisconsin is facing very difficult medical assistance program challenges. I am prepared to make MA financially sustainable, while making sure the promises made to Wisconsin's most vulnerable citizens can be kept."
Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources—Cathy Stepp served on the Natural Resources Board, as the State Senator representing the 21st District, and as Co-chair of the Environmental and Natural Resources Committee. She has also has been employed as a Vice President at Magnum Truck and Equipment, Inc., worked with the Wisconsin Builders' Association, National Association of Home Builders and numerous other local builders' associations. Stepp is an avid outdoorswoman, enjoying Wisconsin's snowmobile trails each winter and hunting turkeys.
"I will work tirelessly with the incoming administration to find innovative ways to protect Wisconsin's valuable natural resources, improve the overall permitting process, and embark on a top to bottom review of current regulations, all while focusing on growing our state's economy."
Secretary of the Department of Transportation—Mark Gottlieb served as an alderman in the City of Port Washington from 1991 to 1997 and as Mayor of Port Washington from 1997 to 2003. Before that he worked as a civil engineer for 20 years prior to his election to the Assembly. He is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Wisconsin.
"I know that having a well-balanced and efficient transportation system is part of the Governor's comprehensive plan to create jobs and grow Wisconsin's economy. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to lead the DOT as it designs, builds, and maintains that system."
Secretary of the Department of Revenue—Rick Chandler owned his own company, served as the Secretary of DOR from 2001-03 and Wisconsin state budget director from 1987-2001.
"Making revenue collection more predictable, efficient, and business friendly will be vital to ensuring future economic growth in Wisconsin. All Wisconsin residents will benefit from a Department of Revenue that works with them to ensure fair collection of revenue, and I look forward to being a part of that process.
Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection—Ben Brancel is a fifth-generation farmer, was the Wisconsin Director of the USDA Farm Service Agency, and served in the Wisconsin Assembly, as Co-chair of the Joint Committee on Finance, Speaker of the Assembly, and as the Secretary of DACTP under Governor Thompson.
"I'm excited to have the opportunity to once again serve the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection community and work alongside Governor-elect Walker to grow Wisconsin's economy."
Secretary of the Department of Children and Families—Eloise Anderson served as the Director of the California Department of Social Services, Wisconsin Administrator of the Division of Community Services, and as an assistant to the County Executive of Dane County. She also previously worked at Northcott Neighborhood House, a community organization, in Milwaukee.
"I look forward to working with Governor Walker and being a part of his team. One of my goals is to assist families in ways that improve their well being. Families are the foundation of a society; therefore it is of major concern that Wisconsin children have strong families. Services that government provides should enhance families' strengths and protect children. I am committed to the prosperity of Wisconsin families."
Secretary of the Department of Workforce Development—Manuel "Manny" Perez has experience as an income maintenance worker, EOC investigator / mediator, affirmative action officer, director of IT, VP of Operations and COO, North America Product Manager for Manpower Managed Services, and for the last 3 years President/Co-owner of a staffing firm.
"As a Hispanic professional, I am honored to serve under Gov. Scott Walker because of his commitment to improving the lives of all peoples in Wisconsin, reforming government to ensure a healthy private sector that generates employment for all communities, and his commitment to diversity and compliance."
Secretary of the Department of Corrections—Gary Hamblin served as a professional law enforcement officer for 39 years starting by serving for the Sawyer Co Sheriff's Dept, the Dane County Sheriff from 1997 to 2006, and as administrator of the Division of Law Enforcement Services with the state Department of Justice under Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.
"I am thrilled to be working with Wisconsin's professional correctional officers who have a long-standing tradition of exceptional public service. While budgetary challenges certainly lie ahead, I believe that the Department of Corrections can be part of the solution by finding efficiencies working together with correctional workers to provide the core government service of protecting all Wisconsin citizens."
Secretary of the Department of Financial Institutions—Peter Bildsten grew up in Baraboo and is a 30-year veteran of the Wisconsin financial services industry, serving as Chairman and CEO of First National Bank and Trust Company of Baraboo for six years before leading a successful merger with Wells Fargo Bank in 2002. He also served as Wells Fargo's District President for the Greater Madison area, worked for the Summit Credit Union, spent eight years in senior lending positions with North Shore Bank and Bank Mutual. Additionally Bildsten spent ten years in the private mortgage insurance industry and seven years with Verex Assurance in Madison. In 2009, Bildsten was brought in as CEO of Maritime Savings Bank to help the troubled institution get recapitalized or merge with another institution. He's been working on Maritime's merger with North Shore Bank since September of this year.
"These are challenging times in the banking industry. I look forward to working with Scott Walker to make sure our state's banks and credit unions are strong and contributing to a growing Wisconsin economy. The stronger our banks and credit unions are, the more they'll be able to help Wisconsin's businesses grow and create jobs and economic opportunity for everyone."
Secretary of the Department of Tourism—Stephanie Klett is the Emmy® Award-winning host of the Discover Wisconsin Television and Radio Series which promotes tourism all across Wisconsin, and managing director of the Discover Wisconsin Media Network.
"I'm excited to work with the Walker administration in developing a vision for Wisconsin tourism. Our state's natural resources make us a truly unique destination, and our over 15,000 lakes, rivers and streams are unparalleled. Wisconsin powers the world. We feed the world. We educate the world. And we entertain the world. I'm looking forward to working with Governor Walker, who truly understands the power of tourism, and its vital economic impact."
Secretary of the Department of Regulation and Licensing—Dave Ross is a lifelong Wisconsin resident who owned his own business for 20 years before being elected Mayor of Superior.
"I am honored to be a part of Governor Scott Walker's administration. The Department of Regulation and Licensing can play an important role in streamlining and reforming state government. Governor Walker has sent a clear message, ‘Wisconsin is open for business', and I am proud to be a part of the team that will grow jobs in Wisconsin."
Executive Director of WHEDA—Wyman Wynston is a community economic development, redevelopment executive who is a tax increment financing and new market tax credit expert that has 14 years of senior management experience at WHEDA. He is currently a senior commercial TAD manager in the Atlanta Development Authority.
MADISON (WKOW) -- Even before the official announcement by Gov.-Elect Scott Walker, a former state senator says she'll be the next secretary of Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources.
Cathy Stepp, who represented Racine from 2002 to 2006, informed DNR employees of her appointment on Thursday morning. She will hold a "meet-and-greet with cookies" from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today.
Stay tuned for more announcements of other department secretaries throughout the day.