Newburg clerk won’t run again for Milwaukee board

Deanna Alexander
Ozaukee Press Staff

Newburg Village Clerk Deanna Alexander will not run for re-election to the Milwaukee County Board, honoring a self-imposed term limit, she said.

Meanwhile, a federal judge earlier this month denied a motion to dismiss her lawsuit against a former Milwaukee County supervisor and two state employees in which she alleges she was wrongfully terminated from a state government job.

“When I first campaigned for public office in 2011, I took a term limit oath,” she wrote in an email.  “It’s time for me to make good on that promise and step away after the eight-year maximum length of consecutive service that I’ve completed.”

Alexander was elected to the Milwaukee County Board in April 2012 to represent District 18, which covers the northwestern corner of Milwaukee County. She was re-elected in 2016 and 2018.

She was appointed Newburg clerk in June, three weeks after former clerk Rick Goeckner and treasurer Chrissie Brynwood abruptly resigned.

Alexander is paid an annual salary of $68,000, plus a $10,900 stipend for health insurance, under a contract with the village that runs through 2021.

She is paid about $24,000 a year as a Milwaukee County supervisor.

Alexander has a background in accounting and management and has worked in Milwaukee County’s Behavioral Health Division and as a financial consultant with school districts. She also served in the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s 57th Field Artillery Brigade from 2002 to 2008, during which time she was deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border to assist in border control.

She also worked in the state’s Department of Children and Families overseeing Milwaukee’s foster care system beginning in August 2016 until she was fired in  June 2018.

A few months later, she filed a federal lawsuit, arguing that she was wrongfully terminated as part of a political conspiracy. She also alleges sexual harassment.

Last week, a federal judge denied motions to dismiss Alexander’s lawsuit

In her complaint, Alexander alleges former Milwaukee County Supervisor Steve Taylor was incensed by a press release from Alexander, a Republican, that she published shortly before the 2018 spring election in which she endorsed Taylor’s Democratic opponent.

In the release, Alexander detailed an incident in which she alleged Taylor, also a Republican, angrily forced her out of a meeting with a downtown developer. After the meeting he told Alexander, the only woman there, she could meet alone with the developer for “sloppy seconds.”

Several county supervisors and other elected officials supported Alexander’s account and said they had witnessed similar behavior by Taylor.

“The article garnered significant media attention and resulted in other county officials and citizens standing in unity with her,” federal Magistrate Judge Nancy Joseph wrote in her denial.

Taylor lost his re-election bid and in blog posts and other public statements blamed Alexander for his loss.

According to the complaint:

Within days after the election, Taylor complained to Alexander’s immediate supervisor at DCF, alleging that Alexander was performing campaign work or other unauthorized activity on state time.

The supervisor dismissed Taylor’s complaint and prepared to file a positive performance evaluation, consistent with her “unblemished employment record.”  

Taylor, however, went over the supervisor’s head to Deputy DCF Secretary Lisa Marks, a political appointee, who instructed the supervisor to not finalize the evaluation. When the supervisor did so anyway, and advised Alexander to hire an attorney, the supervisor was threatened with termination and ultimately resigned.

The day her supervisor’s resignation took effect, Alexander was interrogated for four hours by an investigatory committee, mostly regarding her work schedule.

On June 12, the investigation concluded Alexander committed no wrongdoing but three days later, just two months after the election, Alexander was fired.

Afterward, a news reporter told Alexander that Taylor made “braggadocios admissions,” as the judge put it, to take credit for her termination.

Later, in February 2019, Taylor also tried to get Alexander removed as treasurer of the Milwaukee County Republican Party, Alexander alleges.

Besides Taylor, Marks and former DCF in-house counsel Mary Burke also are named as defendants in the lawsuit.

In his motion to dismiss, Taylor argued that Alexander failed to show there was an agreement between the three.

The court denied the motion, saying Alexander presented enough facts that it can be inferred that the three worked in concert to get her fired and that they did so as an act of revenge for the press release she published prior to the election.

“These allegations suggest more than simply parallel conduct by Taylor and the state defendants but rather concerted action to achieve a common goal,” Joseph wrote.

Alexander’s attorney called the ruling “very significant.”

“In cases where the real fight is not about what happened — everybody pretty much knows that we can prove everything in the complaint — the real battleground is whether the facts fit (Alexander’s) legal theories for recovery, and a victory on a motion to dismiss can be a harbinger of things to come,” Madison attorney Jeff Scott Olson said in an email.

In an email, Taylor offered no comment other than to point a reporter to a blog post reacting to Alexander’s re-election announcement and in which he compares her to tofu.

Alexander is seeking lost income and other monetary and punitive damages.

A trial is scheduled for a year from now.

Meanwhile, in her announcement that she is not running for re-election, Alexander left open the possibility of running for future public office.

“I’m sure there will be many more opportunities to continue shaping better government in the future and I look forward to exploring those options when the time is right,” she said.

She said she is particularly interested in running to succeed State Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) when she retires. Alexander lives in the Eighth District, represented by Darling.

“I’m open to looking at opportunities that become available, and that is something I would look at in the future,” she said. “For now, I am proud to work for the Village of Newburg.”




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