Gov. Tony Evers tapped former State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski to be Wisconsin’s next Secretary of the State on Friday. Former secretary Doug La Follette announced his retirement effective Friday, after being re-elected in November.
La Follette, 82, served as state secretary since 1974 and was elected in 1982, the governor’s office said. He held office for a span of 40 years and won re-election last year against a Republican who wanted to shift duties to the office. La Follette was in his 11th consecutive term when he resigned.
Godlewski ran for U.S. Senate in 2022 but dropped out of the race. She served as Wisconsin Treasurer from 2019 to 2023 and will be the third woman in state history to serve as Secretary of the State.
“Secretary of State La Follette’s retirement after more than 40 years of state service leaves an incredibly important role to fill, and I want to thank him for his years of dedication to the people of Wisconsin throughout his long career. In a critical position that has seen no turnover in decades, maintaining continuity with a leader who’s prepared and committed to fulfilling this office’s constitutional obligations could not be more important—and there’s no one more uniquely qualified or better suited for the job than (Godlewski),” Gov. Evers said in a statement.
In a letter to Gov. Evers, La Follette said, “It is with a heavy heart that I submit my resignation as Secretary of the State of Wisconsin, effective March 17, 2023. After many years of frustration, I’ve decided I don’t want to spend the next three and a half years trying to run an office without adequate resources and staffing levels.”
Godlewski is eager to start.
“It was a privilege to serve the people of Wisconsin as state treasurer for four years, and I am humbled that Gov. Evers has called upon me to serve as secretary of state. To become just the third woman in our state’s history to hold this office is the honor of a lifetime. I know how important this role is and my responsibilities are, and I’m looking forward to getting to work,” Godlewski said in a statement. Glenn Wise was the first woman to serve as secretary in 1955 and Vel Phillips was the second to serve in 1978.
Wisconsin Legislature’s also weighed in.
“As a public servant for more than four decades and as a lifelong champion for our environment, Doug La Follette has worked tirelessly for the people of Wisconsin. His presence will be missed in the Capitol and I wish him the best in his retirement,” Rep. Lisa Subeck said.
“I extend my full support and heartfelt congratulations to former State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski. I look forward to working with her in her new capacity as Secretary of State,” Subeck added.
Steve Schuster also contributed to this report.