Daniel Zimmerman
Daniel Zimmerman

   A local elected official has left office to take a much bigger public role — and his seat here could be filled sooner than later.

   Daniel Zimmerman of Ripon was named today as the next Wisconsin secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

   He succeeds interim Secretary Kathy Marschman.

   Zimmerman was an officer in the U.S. Army, retiring in 2008 with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

   Until today, however, he also was a member of the Ripon Area School Board.

   But, due to his new position with the state, he resigned that post this morning. He had one year remaining on his term.

   “Governor Walker has asked me to serve as his Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs and I have accepted,” he wrote in a letter to School Board President David Scott. “My service as a state cabinet secretary is unfortunately incompatible with my continued service in local elected office.

   “I did not seek this position. But when asked to lead the state organization that serves those who have served, my duty is to those who have sacrificed so much to make our way of life possible.”

   Given the resignation, the Ripon Area School Board may move quickly to fill the seat — though the process is complicated slightly by the fact that a School Board primary election is only weeks away.

   “We did clarify with Fond du Lac County this morning that any of the board candidates right now that are scheduled to be on the primary [could be appointed to fill the vacancy] if they were interested in filling the position depending upon what the board sets out as a timeline,” Superintendent Mary Whitrock said. “But, say the board looks to fill the position before the election, those candidates could fill this position and then, at election time if they were elected into what would really be someone else’s seat, they would fill that seat for the next three years, and then if not elected, they would fill out that seat for the next year ... It wouldn’t really affect the election process.”

   Eight — three incumbents and five challengers — are running for three seats on the School Board.

   It’s expected the School Board will hold a special meeting Monday to decide how to proceed.

   A facilities committee meeting is set to be held Monday evening; this is a committee of the whole board, meaning a quorum of the board should be present and ready to vote.

   As such, the board is expected to hold an extra meeting just prior to the facilities meeting to consider how it wishes to fill Zimmerman’s post.

   The group, Whitrock explained, could “set out the timeline they would like to fill the position. If they wanted to move right away, they could have someone in that position before the February meeting.”

   It’s unclear whether that’s the route the board will choose.

   Whitrock, meanwhile, lauded Zimmerman’s time on the board.

   “Dan has served on the board during a really critical time for this school district: hiring a new superintendent and passing the facilities referendum as well as the operations referendum. He’s served in some critical roles, being the chair of the facilities committee as well as the policy committee for the district,” she said. “Over the last number of years he’s been the vice president, so he’s been an officer.

   “So he’s contributed greatly to all of those positions in allowing the district to move forward. He will be missed.”

   Zimmerman, meanwhile, offered his appreciation.

   “I am honored to have been selected by my friends and neighbors to represent their interest on the board the last five years,” he wrote in his resignation letter. “The experience has been incredibly enriching.”

Check back for updates as this story develops.