Weishan Running for Register of Deeds
After 20 years on the county board Sup. John Weishan, Jr. seeks a better paying position.
Weishan is currently the Supervisor from the 16th district, and one of the longest serving county board members. He now earns just $24,000 as a supervisor, which was reduced to a part-time salary in 2016. The Register of Deeds office pays nearly $88,000. The county board recently voted to approve a four percent increase for the Register of Deeds, raising the pay to more than $93,000 a year.
In April 2019, the former Register of Deeds John La Fave resigned after it was revealed that he was under investigation by the FBI for an alleged invoicing scam that had stolen millions from the county. A month later, Gov. Tony Evers appointed Israel Ramón to the position.
Asked whether he thought Ramon was doing a good job, Weishan said, “I would say that we have different style of doing things.”
Weishan noted that in November 2019 Ramon went before the county board asking them for funds so he could pay Fidlar Technologies, a software company based in Iowa, to finish digitizing records in the Register of Deeds office. Fidlar was ensnared in the federal investigation of La Fave, and the county board did not want to continue any business with the firm until the investigation was resolved. They declined to give Ramon the funds.
Beyond that, Weishan didn’t take any shots at his opponent. He said he is running for the office because after 20 years working in county government he has gotten to know the office quite well, and he believes it serves an important role in an issue he cares about: voters rights.
Weishan has been behind an effort to establish a non-partisan gerrymandering review board, and most recently backed legislation that allowed county employees to get time off to work at polling places.
Many people keep their vital documents at home in a filing cabinet, or maybe a safe, Weishan said. “The Register of Deeds performs that function on a county level.”
The county office is the custodian of documents like birth certificates, death notices, corporate papers and financial documents. In the era of Voter ID, Weishan said, the safeguarding of these documents is “vitally important to the safeguarding of our democracy.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has postponed implementation of the REAL ID government identification system, but when it comes, the Register of Deeds will be in charge of the important documents people need to obtain their REAL ID.
Weishan grew up and still lives in West Allis. He’s a graduate of West Milwaukee High School and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business from UW-Milwaukee. Before his first election to the county board, Weishan served in the United States Marine Corps, active duty from 1992 to 1995. Weishan said one of his earliest interactions with the Register of Deeds office was when he went to have a copy of his discharge papers from the Marine Corps kept there.
As a county supervisor, Weishan has been a notable supporter of the parks and transit systems. He has strong ties to the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 998. During last year’s contract negotiations between the union and the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS), as chair of the county board’s Transportation, Public Works and Transit committee, he called representatives from MCTS and the union to provide monthly updates on negotiations, thus giving the union a public platform to blast management for their contract offers.
At times, Weishan’s positions on issues have pitted him against his colleagues, with many votes where he was the lone, or among the few, dissenting votes. Recently, he has taken a stand against leases of parkland the board has approved. These leases all included conditions for maintenance of the parks. But Weishan has explained that he is ideologically opposed to releasing an inch of parkland from county control.
Weishan, along with Supervisor Willie Johnson, Jr., is among the last board members left from the infamous county pension scandal, which took place in 2000 during both supervisors’ first term, and which Weishan supported.
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