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Evers Names Four Cabinet Members From The Milwaukee Area

Chuck Quirmbach
(From left) Sara Meaney, Kevin Carr, Tony Evers, Joel Brennan and Preston Cole (L to R) at Wednesday's news conference.

In a stop Wednesday at Milwaukee's MacDowell Montessori school, Wisconsin Gov.-elect Tony Evers announced the names of his first four Cabinet members. All are from the Milwaukee area.

Credit Chuck Quirmbach
Joel Brennan, nominated to be Secretary of the Wisconsin Dept. of Administration.

The Democrat chose Discovery World CEO Joel Brennan as secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Administration. At the announcement, Brennan said he believes some members of the Discovery World executive committee did not vote for Evers. But Brennan says he and the new governor will try to bring people together.

"That attitude that gives people from diverse backgrounds to check their egos at the door, roll up their sleeves and get things done is unfortunately what has been missing far too long in Madison. It's the tone the governor-elect has brought to his administration — one we will take very seriously, " Brennan said.

Evers also announced he's picked Kevin Carr to head the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. Carr currently serves as U.S. Marshal for the eastern district of Wisconsin. He worked 30 years in the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office.

Carr pledges to be smart on crime as a member of Evers' Cabinet and "to produce better results while reducing prison costs." Carr says the Evers administration will have "much work to do" in that regard.

Credit Chuck Quirmbach
Kevin Carr, nominated to be Secretary of the Wis. Dept. of Corrections.

Carr notes that a criminal justice bill is apparently nearing final passage in Congress. The First Step Act would reduce sentences for some drug crimes and offer training programs for federal prisoners. He says there's an unprecedented opportunity for Wisconsin to move in the same direction.

City of Milwaukee Department of Neighborhood Services Commissioner Preston Cole will become secretary of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Cole also serves on the DNR Board. Critics of DNR operations under Republican Gov. Scott Walker say good science from the agency was ignored. Cole says that won't be the case any longer.

Credit Chuck Quirmbach
Preston Cole, nominated to be Secretary of the Wis. Department of Natural Resources.

"I'd like to double down on science, in the epicenter of natural resource management, for those decisions to manage the great resources of the state of Wisconsin need our full attention," Cole said.

The final Cabinet choice is Sara Meaney as Tourism Secretary. Meaney is the chief marketing and development officer for Milwaukee Film, which hosts the annual Milwaukee Film Festival. Meaney offered an olive branch to the Republican-controlled state Legislature.

"I look forward to working collaboratively with the leaders of the Legislature, to ensure that all people from all walks of life, feel welcomed and the warm Wisconsin enthusiasm that we are so well known for," Meaney said.

Credit Chuck Quirmbach
Sara Meaney, nominated to be Secretary of the Wisconsin Dept. of Tourism.

The Republican Party of Wisconsin quickly issued a press release Wednesday, saying Evers' Cabinet choices offer further proof that Wisconsin Democrats are the party of only Milwaukee and Madison.

Evers told reporters that the criticism will dissipate as he announces more Cabinet members over the next two weeks. The state Senate will have to approve Evers' choices.

Chuck Quirmbach joined WUWM in August 2018. He focuses his longform stories on health, innovation, science, technology, transportation, utilities and business.
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