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Newly elected Mount Pleasant Village President Dave DeGroot appointed John Kis, a member of the Village Plan Commission and an executive with Tri City National Bank, to fill his village trustee seat.

DeGroot ran for both president and trustee. Winning both, he is allowed to appoint his successor. In a press release circulated Tuesday, DeGroot said he plans to appoint Kis to chair of the Finance, Legal and License Committee. However, Kis still needs to be confirmed by the board

When asked by Racine County Eye whether there were other candidates who DeGroot vetted, he said: “He is my first choice.”

David DeGroot

Kis’ confirmation will be introduced to the board April 24. As a trustee, he would earn $6,500 annually from the village.

DeGroot lauded Kis’ work on the plan commission, and praised his credentials and contact within the development community. In an interview following his presidential win, DeGroot told Racine County Eye that development in the village would be a priority for him as president.

DeGroot said he plans to reach “out to the development community and reassure them that we’re open for business.”

“John is a true giant, not only in his profession, but also as a person and community leader,” In DeGroot said in a press release.

Kis has over 45 years of financial experience as a banker.

“There’s nothing along financial lines I haven’t seen,” he told Racine County Eye.

Along with running the village efficiently and avoiding waste of taxpayer dollars, Kis said he is committed to “reasonable development” in the Village. Which for Kis means: “Making sure that nothing gets approved that would hurt the public at large.”

That also means making sure that “reasonable” development and growth continue, he said.

New direction for the board?

As a member of the planning commission Kis voted to deny the Campbell Woods Project, a controversial senior care facility development. He was also part of the unanimous plan commission vote in February 2015 to accept the utility main extensions that included the now infamous HWY V extension.

These two issues have been among the most divisive for the village. DeGroot has been a part of a voting block that includes longtime Trustees Sonny Havn and John Hewitt. The addition of Kis to the board would mean that DeGroot’s faction on the board has a new colleague that agrees with them on at least two highly disputed issues that went before the board.

If confirmed, Kis would take over as chair of a committee that, under Trustee Gary Feest, has been the source of policies and proposals that DeGroot has vocally opposed.

The proposal of a nepotism rule for the police and fire departments and the repeal of the ordinance restraining public comment for village board candidates at board meetings both emanated from the Finance, Legal, License Committee.

DeGroot eventually voted in favor of repealing the public comment ordinance on advice from village counsel. But he was a vocal supporter of the ordinance prior to that, and railed against the village’s attorney fees during his campaign.

However, Kis said he is not “politically motivated” and he doesn’t plan to run again after this term. He said he has no agenda other than, “Anything I can do to be positive for the citizens of Mount Pleasant.”

Kis said he has been asked to run before, but simply has no interest in it.

“I am a person who wants to help,” Kis said. “ I look at this just like when I volunteered. I just feel that people like me have to step up and do it.”

Kis’ Priorities as trustee
If confirmed, Kis said he would focus on protecting the citizens. This, he said, would be through an emphasis on “reasonable development” and efficiently managing village finances.

“We need to spend money to protect, we need to spend money to help the village grow,” he said. But also, “Eliminate as much waste as we can.”

Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.