Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced on Wednesday his intention to retire next May from the position he was first elected to over 12 years ago.
“Serving my community as county executive has been one of the greatest honors of my life, and I’m grateful beyond words for the trust my hometown has put in me over the past 12 years,” Parisi said in a press release. “This work has been purely a team effort, with my staff, county employees, and our partners throughout the community rising to the occasion time and again to ensure our community’s values of watching out for one another and protecting our natural environment have been respected and acted upon.”
In a special election to fill out the remainder of a term started by former County Executive Kathleen Falk, Parisi was first elected county executive in April 2011 and was subsequently elected to full terms in 2013, 2017, and 2021.
During Parisi’s tenure as county executive, Dane County added nearly 100,000 new residents and saw its annual budget grow to over $282 million per year.
Among his accomplishments, Parisi developed the popular “Dane County Suck the Muck” initiative that’s removed thousands of tons of decades-old sludge from area waterways that otherwise contribute to poor water quality, according to a press release, and he created the Dane County Office of Equity and Inclusion and county government’s first capacity to address criminal justice reform and re-entry several years ago. Parisi also built a program with local schools to help children living in poverty overcome the financial difficulties of earning a driver’s license and a partnership between Dane County Parks and Operation Fresh Start to help young people develop job skills while improving the outdoor spaces in which we play. Parisi also acquired the former Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce building and converted it into the county’s first homeless day resource center, known as “The Beacon.” This facility has served hundreds of individuals and families over the years who struggle with homelessness and housing insecurity.
Prior to his service as county executive, Parisi served as Dane County Clerk from 1996 to 2004 and represented the East Side of Madison, Monona, McFarland, and the Towns of Dunn and Blooming Grove in the Wisconsin State Assembly from 2005 until his election to his current role as county executive.
“There are a lot of challenges in the world today, but we have much to be grateful for in a community so full of empathy, talent, and generosity,” Parisi said. “Doing this work requires a lot of partners and a shared ‘can-do’ spirit of collaboration, and together we have accomplished a great deal. I’m forever grateful for the trust and opportunity to lead, advocate for, and give voice to those who face challenges like behavioral health, racism, poverty, homelessness, and addiction.”