Wisconsin’s Next Governor Picks Insurance Commissioner, Other Cabinet Members

By | December 27, 2018

Wisconsin Governor-Elect Tony Evers has named Mark Afable as insurance commissioner.

Afable has worked for American Family Insurance in Madison since 1994 and currently serves as its chief legal officer. He will replace current Commissioner of Insurance Ted Nickel, who has served as the state’s top insurance regulator since 2011.

Evers on Dec. 21 also named three more members of his Cabinet, including a proponent of raising taxes to improve the condition of Wisconsin’s roads as head the state Department of Transportation. That brings to eight the number of Cabinet secretaries Evers has announced to date. He has nine more to pick.

All of his appointees will need to be confirmed by the Republican-controlled state Senate.

Aside from Afable, Cabinet members Evers named on Dec. 21 were:

— Craig Thompson, Department of Transportation. Thompson currently serves as executive director of the Transportation Development Association of Wisconsin, which has been a strong advocate of increasing taxes and fees to pay for road improvements. That issue has stymied the Legislature in recent years, with Assembly Republicans proposing a gas tax hike only to be blocked by Senate Republicans and Gov. Scott Walker.

The budget signed by Walker increased borrowing to pay for roads instead of raising taxes.

Evers reiterated, as he has throughout the campaign, that he’s open to all options to find a permanent road-funding solution. But he has yet to outline a plan, instead saying he wants to talk with interested parties to come up with a proposal.

“We’re not going to predetermine anything,” Evers said.

When asked what the maximum reasonable gas tax increase would be, Thompson declined to give a number. But his organization, which includes businesses, unions, citizen groups, local units of government and individuals, supported raising the gas tax or increasing license plate registration fees to pay for roads.

— Rebecca Cameron Valcq, chairwoman of the Public Service Commission. Valcq is a partner at the Quarles & Brady law firm in Milwaukee, where she specializes in regulator law. She previously spent 15 years as a regulatory attorney for We Energies, the state’s largest energy company.

— Brad Pfaff, Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. Pfaff has worked as deputy chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, a Democrat from La Crosse, since 2017. Pfaff was born and raised on a dairy farm in La Crosse County. He previously worked under President Barack Obama’s administration as executive director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency.

Evers previously had made four other appointments: Joel Brennan, chief executive officer of Milwaukee’s Discovery World museum as Department of Administration secretary; Preston Cole, a member of the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board as Department of Natural Resources Secretary; U.S. Marshal Kevin Carr as Department of Corrections secretary; and Sara Meaney, chief marketing officer for Milwaukee Film, as Department of Tourism secretary.

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