- May 29, 2001
The county of Kenosha, Wisconsin, elected a Republican executive on Tuesday after decades of electing Democrats.
“Samantha Kerkman defeated Rebecca Matoska-Mentink in Tuesday’s Spring Election to become the next Kenosha County executive,” announced Kenosha News. “In unofficial results, Kerkman, of Salem Lakes, received 14,693 votes, or 51.32% of the vote. Matoska-Mentink, of Pleasant Prairie, received 13,886, or 48.5% of the vote.”
The 47-year-old Kerkman (pictured) will be the first woman and fifth county executive in Kenosha County. She will replace current County Executive Jim Kreuser, who has held the office since 2008.
“I want to thank all my supporters and everyone who came out to vote,” Kerkman said late Tuesday. “Becky called and I appreciate that. In the new role, we’ll work very closely together. I look forward to working with the County Board, and all the county offices.”
Kerkman credited her experience for the victory.
“I think it was the experience that I bring from Madison,” Kerkman said. “I have been working with the county executive for years on issues that impact the county.”
Though the race is “non-partisan,” FOX6 reports that both candidates previously “ran as members of major political parties – Clerk of Courts Matoska-Mentink a Democrat, State Rep. Kerkman a Republican.”
“Democrats back Matoska-Mentink and Republicans back Kerkman,” the report said. “It is a swing county in the swing state. In 2016, former President Donald Trump won it by 238 votes – becoming the first Republican to win the county since Richard Nixon. In 2020, Trump won by 2,700.”
Kenosha attracted considerable attention in 2020 and 2021 due to the Black Lives Matter riots following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, which culminated in the trial and eventual acquittal of 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse for killing two rioters in self-defense.