MONROE — Mike Doyle announced his resignation as county clerk at the monthly Green County Board meeting June 9.
“You weren’t supposed to do this yet,” Art Carter, board chair, joked with Doyle.
In fact, Doyle has been planning to retire for a while. The last time he ran for office, in 2016, he told Carter he planned to resign as soon as the latest major county project, the new Government Services Building, was done. Then, tasks associated with that project kept coming: the boiler room needed fixing, a loading dock needed to be built, the county needed to dispose of the old building’s furniture.
When the project finally wrapped up late last year, Doyle switched focus to making sure his deputy clerk, Arianna Voegeli, felt comfortable running elections.
“I left it up to her, whenever you’re ready to step into my position,” Doyle said.
Now that she’s worked through two elections, the time is right, he said. Voegeli will be taking over as interim county clerk July 4. The position is up for election this fall.
Doyle has served the county for almost four decades.
He was last re-elected in 2016 and has been clerk for Green County since January 1989. Before that, he was a county board supervisor.
During his time as clerk, he served under three board chairmen: Bob Hoesly, Tom Daly and Carter.
“He was great to work with. He did a lot of things, more than the office called for,” like working with people to get their back taxes paid to keep them in their homes, said Carter, who has served on the county board since the 1970s.
During his time as a county board supervisor in the 1980s, Doyle was proud of his role in fighting to keep the rail lines between Janesville and Monroe. Today, those train tracks are essential to Badger State Ethanol’s operations.
The projects he’s proudest of as county clerk are the building projects he’s helped guide into reality: the Government Services Building, the Justice Center, the Green County Humane Society facility, Monroe Clinic Hospice Center and Veterans Park.
Another proud moment came a few years ago when he and other community leaders raised money to memorialize the grave sites of 39 previously unidentified former patients of the Green County Mental Hospital. The anonymous grave sites, all pre-1950s, are located just north of the Pleasant View Complex and were marked only by a Roman numeral.
“They were just poor people who had no family. ... That always bugged me a little. It bothered me to have those people buried there with a stone with a Roman numeral (and no name),” he said.
Doyle has also been a champion for county clerks statewide. In 2012, in the wake of the recall election of then-governor Scott Walker, Doyle helped lead an effort to push back against what he and many other clerks saw as a trend toward increasingly complex and politicized election regulations that only saddled them with more duties.
Voter ID requirements, for example, are just another political ploy to micromanage a system “that doesn’t need to be micromanaged,” he said at the time. “Voting is a simple thing. It’s not rocket science.”
Even eight years later, he worries about his municipal clerks who are already overworked and have high turnover, he said.
“The state just keeps making more and more demands without realizing what the impact is,” he said. Ironically, the increasing demands “could wind up compromising the election system.”
In the end, Doyle said he has enjoyed his “very rewarding” 31 and a half years as county clerk.
“It’s not my land, it’s not my money, but I did my best to make sure the citizens of the county got what they paid for. I treated (Green County) like it was my own business,” he said.
At the June 9 county board meeting, to a loud round of applause from county supervisors, Doyle was presented with a Green County recognition plaque and a “Friend of Extension Award” from Green County’s UW-Extension in recognition of his “outstanding commitment” to its educational and research programs.
Rep. Todd Novak (R-Dodgeville) also sent a certificate of commendation to honor Doyle.
In a statement, Novak called Doyle “a go-to person for me on many topics including county government and elections. ... His depth of institutional knowledge will be missed.”
When asked about his retirement plans, 73-year-old Doyle laughed and said he didn’t have any.
With Cheese Days canceled this year and travel limited due to the COVID-19 pandemic, “there’s not a lot to do right now.” But, he added, “I have a motorcycle, and there’s no restrictions on that.”