When Scott Neitzel resigned abruptly as an executive with Madison Gas & Electric last week, there was widespread speculation he was about to take the second most powerful position in state government.
Gov. Scott Walker’s office made it official Monday, naming Neitzel as secretary of the Department of Administration.
As part of a shuffling of top staff, current DOA secretary Mike Huebsch will serve as a commissioner to the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin — a post once held by Neitzel. Huebsch replaces the last holdover appointee from the Doyle Administration, Eric Callisto.
Ellen Nowak will now serve as chairperson of the PSC, a quasi-judicial agency which sets rates for public utilities operating in the state.
A native of Baraboo, Neitzel joined MGE in 1997 after previously serving on the Wisconsin PSC. He also worked in the Thompson administration and before that in Washington D.C. with the U.S. Department of Energy.
“Public service is a great honor and I am humbled Governor Walker has asked me serve in this capacity. We will continue to build upon the reforms that grow our economy and increase the efficiency of state government,” Neitzel said in a statement.
Other changes announced Monday include:
Cate Zeuske, a former state treasurer, will serve as deputy secretary of the DOA. Zeuske served as state treasurer from 1991-1994 and as revenue secretary in former Gov. Tommy Thompson's cabinet. She served in the state Assembly from 1982-1991, and is married to former Assembly Speaker John Gard. Zeuske and Gard served as campaign co-chairs for Mark Neumann's 2010 gubernatorial bid.
Tricia Braun was named chief operating officer of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. She was named WEDC's vice president of economic and community development in May 2014.
Brian Schimming, vice-chairman of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, was named deputy executive director and chief operating officer of the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority.
Walker has proposed merging WEDC and WHEDA, and has said he would like the agencies to be overseen by a board composed only of private-sector employees.
Huebsch was born in Milwaukee and has been a resident of La Crosse County for the last 40 years. He graduated from Onalaska High School and attended Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
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