Sauk County Public Health Director resigns seven months into COVID-19 pandemic

BARABOO, Wis.– Sauk County will need to find new leadership to help manage the coronavirus pandemic after the health director stepped down.

As a public health director, Tim Lawther said he looks to science and data to determine what’s best to protect his community from the coronavirus, but he knows not everybody does. That’s why he’s choosing to leave.

“We choose to fight with one another and make it a political tool to make one side go against each other, just because they choose to wear a piece of cloth over their face or they don’t,” Lawther said.

Lawther said he’s been frustrated for months and doesn’t feel like there’s much left he can do in his position to make change.

In his resignation letter, Lawther said county leadership decisions prohibited him from having a voice in the community.

“The nature of the way he responded was a little surprising,” Sauk County Board Chair Tim McCumber said.

McCumber said he understands Lawther’s frustration, but said that also stopped him from getting through to some county board supervisors.

“If you’re going to look at everything through that lens of being political then how do you move forward?” McCumber said.

Lawther said he hopes the next director will be able to pick up where he left off and do what he couldn’t. His last day is Oct. 14.

McCumber said the county is working with several other agencies to fill that position. There is a deputy director who is trained to do Lawther’s job in the meantime.