MADISON, Wis. — Dane County Executive Joe Parisi will retire in May.

What You Need To Know

  • Joe Parisi was first elected as Dane County Executive in 2011

  • Before that, he was in the legislature, and was Dane County Clerk

  • He'll retire in May 2024

  • An interim executive will be appointed, then there will be a special election in November

After nearly three decades in public service, Parisi said it’s time to retire and spend more time with his wife Erin and their two daughters.

When he made the announcement at Lunney Lake Farm Park in Madison Wednesday, he got almost all the way through his remarks before getting a little choked up.

Parisi oversaw the Alliant Energy Center’s huge expansion, which has helped events like the Midwest Horse Fair and World Dairy Expo grow. He welcomed the Dalai Lama in 2016 and helped lead Dane County through the pandemic.

While he said the county still has so much more work to do, it’s time for someone else to lead.

“We still have inflation, we still have impacts from the pandemic,” Parisi said. “There are a lot of people who are hurting now, and we have to keep our eyes on that. We have to keep our eyes on the basic necessities, food and shelter.”

Dane is the first county in Wisconsin and only fourth in the nation to offset all its electricity. Commitment to the environment was a huge part of Parisi’s vision.

“The bad news is the planet’s on fire,” he said, repeating one of his favorite catchphrases. “The good news is there are solutions that exist to address that.”

Parisi prioritized the fight against climate change during his time in office. He said Lunney Lake Farm Park was a good example of that commitment.

“It reflects some of the work that I feel the most honored to have been a part of,” he said. “We’re here today with a solar park shelter on top … and behind me we have prairie.”

Even though he’ll be leaving office, he has no plans to leave Dane County.

“I was born on Park Street almost 63 years ago,” Parisi laughed. “This is my home. I have my wife, my kids are here. And I love this community so much.”

Once Parisi leaves in May, the County Board chair will appoint an interim county executive. Then, there will be a special election. In November 2024, Dane County residents will vote for president and a new county executive.