Walker appoints Harsdorf to agriculture secretary post

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Gov. Scott Walker on Friday appointed Sen. Sheila Harsdorf to be the state’s Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection secretary — an announcement that will trigger a special election in her western Wisconsin district.

“Sheila’s experience as a highly respected, dedicated legislator and dairy farmer make her an excellent fit to lead DATCP,” Walker said in a news release.

Harsdorf’s last day as a legislator is Friday, Nov. 10. She begins in the new role on Monday.

“I am honored to serve as DATCP secretary, and I thank Gov. Walker for entrusting me to lead,” she said. “I’m excited to work with and support our farmers, businesses and consumers to promote a fair marketplace and economic growth in Wisconsin's vibrant agriculture industry.”

The announcement triggers a vacancy in Harsdorf’s 10th Senate district and a special election. Assembly Republicans Shannon Zimmerman and Adam Jarchow are among the possible GOP candidates for the seat, according to a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel report. No Democrats have yet emerged.

Harsdorf served 10 years in the state Assembly before being elected in 2001 to the Senate, where she has served since.

In addition to serving on the powerful Joint Finance Committee, Harsdorf sits on the Senate’s Agriculture, Small Business and Tourism Committee. She chairs the Universities and Technical Colleges Committee and serves as co-chair of the Joint Committee on Information Policy and Technology.

Harsdorf now becomes the second person in her family to serve in the role. Her brother Jim Harsdorf served under former Gov. Scott McCallum as Wisconsin’s agriculture secretary from 2001 to 2003. He previously served in the same Senate seat that Sheila was elected to after Jim Harsdorf was appointed to the agriculture post.