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The county executive in Kenosha, Wisconsin has turned red for the first time in decades after the city drew widespread attention amid devastating riots and the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse.
Voters elected Samantha Kerkman on April 5 to county executive. The race was described as non-partisan, but Kerkman had Republican support and serves as a Republican state representative. His opponent, Rebecca Matoska-Mentink, is a Democrat and holds the position of clerk of the courts.
It is the first time a woman has held the position and the first time since at least 1998 that a Republican has been elected.
The current Kenosha County executive is Democrat Jim Kreuser, who has held the position since 2008. He was predeceased by Allan Kehl, who served as the county’s Democratic sheriff before being elected county executive from 1998 to 2008. Kehl resigned in 2008 and was later sentenced to two years in federal prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws.
Kenosha is a swing county and had not voted for a Republican presidential candidate since Richard Nixon until former President Donald Trump’s run in 2016, Fox 6 reported. The county voted for Trump again in 2020. Wisconsin is also a swing state, with Trump winning the state in 2016 but losing it in 2020 to President Biden.
BUSINESS OWNER: KENOSHA ‘LOOKS LIKE A WAR ZONE’
Kenosha came to the nation’s attention in 2020 following the police shooting of black man Jacob Blake, who was paralyzed from the waist down by the incident. Riots soon broke out in the city after the shooting, which coincided with riots and protests in other cities across the country following the death of George Floyd.
On the second night of unrest in Kenosha, Kyle Rittenhouse shot two men and wounded another. His trial drew attention and he was eventually acquitted of all charges in 2021.
Fallout from the riots left the city looking like “a war zone”, according to business owners at the time, and damage exceeded $50 million.
Kerkman thanked her supporters Tuesday night and said her experience as a state representative resonated with voters.
DAMAGE FROM RIOTS IN KENOSHA EXCEEDS $50 MILLION, COUNTY SEEKS FEDERAL RECONSTRUCTION ASSISTANCE
“I think that’s the experience I bring from Madison,” Kerkman said Tuesday night, according to Kenosha News. “I have worked with the county executive for years on issues that impact the county.”
She also campaigned on her “reputation for being eagle-eyed to save Wisconsin taxpayers money.”
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