When DeForest’s director of housing authority moved to Windsor in 1999, he intended to continue his career in law enforcement.
That year, Ed Wall moved to the area with his wife – a Madison native – from New England, where Wall began his career as a New Hampshire State Trooper. Once in Wisconsin, Wall was sworn in by then-attorney general Jim Doyle as a special agent in the Division of Criminal Investigation and its co-agency, the Division of Narcotics Enforcement.
Fast-forward to 2009: Wall is appointed and confirmed to sit as the head of Wisconsin Emergency Management under Governor Jim Doyle.
But Doyle didn’t seek reelection the next cycle, and Wall left the senior cabinet position for another high-level title – this time, back at the Department of Criminal Investigation as an administrator.
Governor Scott Walker took over office. His relationship with Walker was tumultuous – and well-documented in the press – and Wall said he was forced out by a political “hit-job” after raising red flags and taking action over the treatment of inmates at the Lincoln Hill juvenile correctional facility.
The situation between Wall and Walker hit the press and exploded across the headlines. It damaged Wall’s political career and his mental wellbeing.
Now leading the small agency in DeForest, Wall said he’s happier than he’s been in 20 years.
His position in DeForest puts him into contact with the elderly, disabled and poor population of the village. That role affords Wall the opportunity to resume the type of work that initially attracted him to law enforcement – to strive for the wellbeing of others.
“It took me back to helping people,” Wall said. “This is exactly what I was born for.”
Wall went from leading thousands of state employees to working with the DeForest Housing Authority, which he said employs two people full-time and one person part-time. It administers dozens of units for at-risk portions of the villages’s citizenry. He keeps the books, works on grant writing and lends a hand for maintenance projects.
It creates a down-to-earth connection with people, Wall said.
“It’s rewarding, challenging,” Wall said. “Never the same day twice.”
On warm, sunny days, Wall might be seen riding his blue Harley-Davidson to and from work, a throwback to his time as a New Hampshire State Trooper. He keeps an open-door policy and said he enjoys seeing visitors at his office.
A large part of his decision to transition into the DeForest Housing Authority was being close to family.
Following the period of political fallout with Walker, Wall went back to work in New England as a COO for a private company. But working in another state required too many days away from home and his wife, so he reached out and took the village job in January.
His roots in the DeForest area are why Wall said he plans to remain here for years to come. Wall said he’s the kind of guy to work well beyond retirement age as a matter of ethic, but he couldn’t stomach spending those years away from his family.
“Without my family, I’m no help to anybody,” Wall said. “I need to be close to home.”
Wall published a memoir, “Unethical,” in 2018. In the book, he details a damning review of Walker’s administration. It’s an intimate view of the trials and tribulations he faced when thrust into the national spotlight during Walker’s era.
He dedicated the work to his loved ones.
“I dedicate this book to my family and close friends,” he wrote. “Throughout this entire ordeal, they stood faithfully by my side, knowing the truth. They rode the roller coaster of emotions that go with hope and defeat, never hesitating to rally to myside. They were a small army of love that lifted me when I stumbled and gave me the energy to persevere. It was only through their loyalty, love and encouragement that I found the strength to write this book. I am blessed.”
- Editor’s note: This story was updated June 10 with a correction to reflect that Ed Wall was a New Hampshire State Trooper. The newspaper regrets this error.