KENOSHA – In delivering his final State of the County address Tuesday evening, Kenosha County Executive Jim Kreuser urged the County Board and his successor to continue the momentum.
After serving as Kenosha County Executive since June 2008, Kreuser will retire effective April 18. He will be succeeded by Samantha Kerkman, who was elected in Tuesday’s Spring Election.
“We’ve done so many great things together over the last 14 years, and it’s my hope that you will all continue to pull together for the good of the county — setting aside partisan politics — working in the best interests, of the most people, for the long haul,” said Kreuser.
He cited a lengthy list of accomplishments during his tenure. These included:
- Restorations to the county’s Courthouse and Administration Building.
- An expansion of the Public Safety Building that now houses 911 dispatch, the Emergency Operations Center, the Sheriff’s Department Detective Bureau and the county’s Division of Information Technology.
- New amenities, activities and events for the Kenosha County Parks system, including the development of the Kenosha County Veterans Memorial Park.
- The renovation and expansion, and financial turnaround of the county-owned Brookside Care Center.
- Restructuring of the Division of Information Technology into a state-of-the-art operation.
Kreuser also pointed to the county’s recent attainment of a AAA bond rating, the highest rating possible.
“Triple-A was another one of those goals that we had for a long time,” he said. “And now we’re there — one of just seven counties out of the 72 counties in the state,” he said.
In addition, Kreuser discussed how the county has addressed racial equity during his watch.
“As you all know, Kenosha County over the last two years has been putting an increased emphasis on the pursuit of racial equity. This board supported the creation of the Racial and Equity Commission and a resolution declaring racism as a public health crisis in Kenosha County,” he said.
Kreuser also announced the creation of a new award, named in honor of Jennie Tunkieicz, his chief of staff who is the first woman in the county to hold the position. The “Jennie Tunkieicz Award” will be presented annually to a person who has made a significant impact on equity, diversity and inclusion in Kenosha County government.
“I’m pleased to announce that the inaugural recipient of this award will be Adelene Greene, who has done so much to advance equity in our county and our community for so many years,” he said.
Tunkieicz, who was recently named the 31st Susan B. Anthony Women of Influence Awards winner, has also announced that she will be retiring. Her last day will be April 22.
Kreuser encouraged the incoming County Board and the next County Executive to advance several ongoing projects that the current County Board has supported. These include relocating the Human Services functions from the Job Center on Sheridan Road to a new facility on 52nd Street; bringing broadband internet access to underserved areas of the county, and completing the South Branch Pike River restoration.
He concluded the address by urging the board not to let political polarization get in the way, but rather, to continue to work together for the advancement of the county.
As someone who loves this county, who cares deeply about it and always will, it is my sincere hope that you choose to continue to move Kenosha County forward,” Kreuser said.