Town Clerk Resigns, One of Many Resignations Over Last 18 Months

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MTT News's picture
Michelle Phillips

MIDDLETON–Lisa Pardon, town clerk in the Town of Middleton tendered her resignation with the town in late January, with Feb. 1 as her last day. In a letter sent to town leaders, Pardon cited her run for the town board against incumbent Richard Oberle as the reason she is leaving because of concerns about her election job duties being a conflict of interest. 

Pardon said she contacted the Wisconsin Election Commission to learn if she would be able to perform all the duties required and learned she could do everything but be in the polling place. She goes on to say that if elected she would have to quit the position.

She also said she has timed the resignation so that the town will have time before the April election to have everything in place.

“I wanted to give them time to advertise and hire a new clerk,” she said.

Pardon also expresses her concerns that Hailey Roesseler, office manager of the town, had not been deputized to run the elections before she left and encouraged them to deputize Roessler rather than start from scratch training someone new. Roessler must be deputized because she does not live in the town and to have access to Internet sites for the elections. 

“If they don’t deputize Hailey, it’s an example of the mismanagement and misuse of town funds by not using a trained employee,” she said.

Pardon added that she and Roessler had already been trained and worked on the last two elections in 2018. She claimed that the Town Chair, Cynthia Richson, disregarded her request, and rumors around the town offices was that a temporary clerk would be hired, although the town board approved the advertisement and hire of another full-time clerk at their last board meeting.

“The town has already invested training into someone who did a good job.” Pardon said.

A clerk resigning to run for office may not seem unusual to some. What seems strange to Pardon and others who have contacted the Times-Tribuneand spoken on the condition of anonymity, is the number of city employee and committee members that have left their posts in the last 18 months. They number 14, counting Pardon–11 staff members, both full and part time, and the entire finance committee, made up of volunteers, have left. The resignations, of course, include those of Town Administrator David Shaw and Deputy Treasurer, Patti Keichinger, who tendered their resignations on Oct. 31, 2018 and received severance packages. They also include public works employees, city crew members and other office staff.

Richson, however, said she didn’t think there was anything unusual about a town the size of Middleton seeing so much turnover in the past year and a half. “Some retired, some left for better jobs,” Richson explained during a telephone interview last week, and added, “I think an interview with the prior clerk is not a very good representation.” 

In addition, Richson claims the resignations are just growing pains and feels the town is moving in the right direction.

“The board is doing a good job at looking into the lack of controls in the town. It’s somewhat of a culture change, an improvement,” Richson said. “We want to make sure that as we grow, we have the right processes in place. We’re growing and improving and that includes having the right people in place.”

It is no secret that Pardon opposes a storm water retention project in the Stonebrook Estates neighborhood where Pardon lives. Richson accused her of advocating against the project during work hours, not just on her own time.

Richson did say she credits Pardon with helping work through some of the transitions that have taken place. By the accounts of Pardon there was disorganization in the office, in part due to so many resignations. 

“When she became clerk, she identified some key areas that needed improvement,” Richson said of Pardon.

Richson included that she is not concerned that the high turnover at the town will affected their ability to hire someone for the clerk position as well as other spots that are currently vacant. By all accounts, the town is running on a skeleton staff right now. 

Pardon said Richson is good at surrounding herself with talented and qualified people, and she hopes the town can get back to full staffing soon.

“Hailey and Greg (DiMiceli the new town administrator) may be able to turn it around, but not without the help of the staff or board,” Pardon concluded.

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