RACINE — The chairman of the Racine County Republican Party announced on Tuesday he will seek the Republican nomination for Wisconsin’s secretary of state position.
Bill Folk, 40, of Caledonia, is seeking the post because he wants to return elections duties to the Secretary of State’s Office. He said the state Legislature moved elections duties to an unelected board in the 1970s, leaving voters with no recourse when things go wrong on Election Day. If the secretary of state oversaw elections, voters could oust that person if things went wrong, Folk said.
“(The Legislature) essentially took away the voters of Wisconsin having any impact on the way the (elections) laws were interpreted,” Folk said. “Over the last 36 years the Secretary of State’s Office has been stripped of duties (as they’ve been) put into the hands of unelected, unaccountable boards. I find that actually very sad for the people of Wisconsin.”
Folk said the secretary of state’s duties have diminished because Democrat Doug La Follette has held the position for decades and can’t be taken seriously in the role because he’s constantly seeking other, higher offices.
No one in La Follette’s office could be reached for comment Tuesday evening.
Folk said he has no indication from state lawmakers that they’d be willing to give some duties back to the secretary of state — in fact, they’ve recently talked about eliminating the position altogether — but that doesn’t mean he can’t try.
“If we have the right person in the office, would they consider it?” Folk said. He hopes they would and he’d work with legislators and the governor to try to make that happen, he added.
Currently, the secretary of state primarily maintains the official acts of the Legislature and governor; keeps the state seal and affixes it to official gubernatorial acts; records annexations and charter ordinances of municipalities; files oaths of office; files deeds for state lands and buildings; and serves on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands, according to the Secretary of State’s Office.
“At this time, he is essentially a historian,” said Folk, an internal control analyst for CNH Industrial and a member of Caledonia’s Planning Commission.
The secretary of state serves a four-year term. The office is up for election Nov. 4 of next year. If a partisan primary is needed, it will be Aug. 12, according to the state Government Accountability Board.