Comptroller Won’t Run For Reelection
City's chief financial officer Aycha Sawa stepping down, city-wide seat now wide open.
The City of Milwaukee’s independent watchdog and chief financial officer isn’t running for re-election.
Comptroller Aycha Sawa announced in a statement that she won’t seek a second four-year term.
“I am proud of the numerous endeavors that our office has undertaken and accomplished,” said Sawa. “From managing and leading through the thick of the pandemic to fighting for the city’s fiscal health to being awarded GFOA’s excellence in financial reporting. We also launched the City’s first-ever open checkbook to promote transparent government to navigating our way through the passage of Act 12 and the City sales tax.”
The comptroller is responsible for auditing city finances and serves as a watchdog over city practices. Under state law, the comptroller is the administrator of the city’s financial affairs, including debt management, payroll and accounting practices.
For the purposes of budgeting, the office is also responsible for determining expected revenues. That revenue certification function took on heightened importance with the new 2% sales tax. Last month, Sawa said her office’s formal estimate was that the sales tax would yield $184 million in 2024, down from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue‘s estimate of $193.6 million. The mayor and council must use that figure in crafting the 2024 budget.
Sawa started with the city in 2010 as an auditor and was promoted several times, ultimately rising to deputy comptroller in 2017 under Comptroller Martin Matson. When Matson decided not to run for reelection in 2020, Sawa successfully campaigned for the non-partisan office with his endorsement.
Sawa defeated State Representative Jason Fields by less than 1,000 votes in the April 2020 general election.
The outgoing comptroller said she “is hopeful voters will choose to elect a candidate that will continue to lead the Comptroller’s office, as she has, with a code of ethics that transcends political will; a standard that requires integrity, independence, and accuracy.”
Bill Christianson, a longtime city budget and administration team member, currently serves as the deputy comptroller.
Sawa is a first-generation American born to Turkish immigrants and lives in Milwaukee with her husband Drew and family.
She did not say what she intends to do after her term expires.
The 2023 Comptroller’s Office budget includes 56 authorized positions and a $4.6 million budget.
The position of comptroller pays $125,607 annually.
By virtue of the position, the comptroller is also a member of the Wisconsin Center District board, City of Milwaukee Deferred Compensation Board, Annuity and Pension Board and secretary of the Public Debt Commission.
All city offices are up for election in spring 2024. That includes all 15 council seats as well as the offices of mayor, treasurer, comptroller and city attorney.
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