JEFFERSON — After 38 years of service to Jefferson County, including the last 22 as county clerk, Barb Frank is retiring from public service.
Frank submitted her resignation as Jefferson County clerk on Jan. 24. Her intention is to retire effective April 3, the day after the spring election.
Per state law, the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors has purview over the county clerk position in terms of designating an appointee or holding a special election.
The board’s Executive Committee approved a recommendation to appoint Chief Deputy Clerk Audrey McGraw as county clerk effective April 3.
Frank worked with Jefferson County Administrator Ben Wehmeier and board Chairperson Jim Schroeder on the recommendation.
“We have worked with this succession plan with Audrey for some time,” Wehmeier noted.
McGraw has served as chief deputy clerk since September 2000.
“We’ve seen her come to meetings and, more importantly, the elections that have become much more complicated,” he said.
Frank said she is confident McGraw will do an excellent job in her new role.
She said the toughest challenge will be for McGraw to figure out when and when not to speak up to the board of supervisors.
“I learned that because I was pretty quiet when I first started,” Frank said. “However, I’m not doing due diligence by ignoring something. If something is happening at the board and we’re missing something, it’s my job to bring that forward.”
Through the years, Frank said, she has had a great relationship with all the different supervisors on the county board, county administrators and department heads.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have that support,” she said. “That has made it nice that they are supportive of the succession plan and allowing time to get somebody else in place.”
Per the recommendation of the county board’s Executive Committee, McGraw would serve through the ending of Frank’s current term to Jan. 4, 2021. The county clerk position would be up for election in November 2020.
As for herself, the retiring clerk said she is looking forward to taking it easy.
“I’m looking forward to having some stress-free, less-responsibility time,” Frank said. “I would like to plan life just based on life and not work.”
She first began her service to Jefferson County in 1981 as an employee of the Jefferson County Human Services Department. Frank moved to a staff position in the clerk’s office in 1983, working with the late County Clerk Barb Geyer.
After learning all the different roles — except payroll — Frank assumed the position of chief deputy county clerk in 1993.
Upon Geyer’s death in 1997, the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors unanimously appointed Frank to fill the position, and she has been re-elected to it ever since.
“I want to thank the citizens of Jefferson County for the opportunity to serve for 38 years,” Frank said. “It has been a challenging, yet rewarding, experience to serve Jefferson County since March 1981 and the county board as county clerk since February 1997.”
She said she has enjoyed being part of the county family.
“We have good people here and I liked coming to work,” Frank said, recognizing the rare treat she’s had of enjoying her career.
“I have so many great memories with all these different people I’ve come across,” she said.
Frank said she always laughs about where she ended up.
Graduating in 1976 from Jefferson High School, she received her business administration degree from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 1980.
After college, she tried retail, thinking she would like that. But she was wrong.
“I hated that,” Frank said. “All you did is get ready for one sale, then another sale.”
The job at Kohl’s was not satisfying for her, so she decided to try county government for awhile.
“I’m still trying it,” the long-time clerk quipped.
“I always said I would never get married, never have kids and never stay in Jefferson County,” Frank said. “I’m 0 for 3.”
She and her husband, Ken reside in the Town of Jefferson. They have have three grown daughters.
Even in retirement, Frank intends to remain in Jefferson County. However, there certainly will be travel in her future.
“Hawaii is on my bucket list,” Frank said. “We will get that done right away.”
She said she also is looking forward to going for a walk or reading a book when she wants ... and simply going to vote without having to work at an election.
Frank said she has no interest in running for any other county or local elective office or any desire to work at the polls.
“I’ve done my service for the community,” she said.