By Dr. Derek Ellerman

As the spring election votes in America’s Dairyland are finalized, it looks like Kenosha County, Wisconsin has elected a Republican County Executive for the first time since 1998.

Kenosha County was the scene of significant racial rioting after the police shooting of Jacob Blake, and gained further notoriety with the Kyle Rittenhouse case. 

Republican State Representative Samantha Kerkman will take the reins in Kenosha County after defeating Democrat Rebecca Motoksa-Mentink 51-49%. 

Rebecca Kleefisch, the former Lt. Governor in the Scott Walker administration and perhaps he leading GOP candidate to replace Democrat Governor Tony Evers, congratulated Kerkman on her victory.

RELATED: Chilling Aerial Footage Shows Disturbing Scale Of Destruction In Kenosha After Weeks Of Riots

Kenosha Flips

Kenosha County was the scene of significant rioting and arson in 2020 after a black man, Jacob Blake, was shot by police who were called to the scene of a domestic disturbance. 

The officer involved in the shooting was not charged because video showed that Blake was armed with a knife. Blake also had felony warrants for his arrest.

Aside from the devastation of the ensuing riots themselves, the episode also gave way to the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, after Rittenhouse shot three men, killing two, in self-defense at the scene of rioting. Rittenhouse was eventually found not guilty on all charges. 

The rioting also gave rise to charges of “fake news” after outlets like CNN referred to the riots as peaceful, as anchors for the network stood in front of massive blazes. 

In particular, CNN was mocked for a chyron that described the riots as “fiery but mostly peaceful protests.”

RELATED: Kenosha Protest Leader: ‘If You Kill One Of Us, It’s Time For Us To Kill One Of Yours’

Public Safety Featured Heavily In County Executive Race

Both candidates, but Kerkman especially, focused on public safety during the race. Kerkman told Fox6, “When people have a job, and they have a place to live, and they feel safe, the businesses will come, and people will want to be employed by those businesses. I think it goes hand in hand. Working together in a collaborative way to try to bring those community stakeholders together is so critical.”

Kerkman also told Fox, “Over the last 10 years, violent crime in Kenosha County has increased over 30%. And public safety is one of those things I hear about all the time. As county executive, I’d like to work together with our community partners to try to combat it.”

Kerkman’s campaign website led off with the issue as her top priority, reading: 

While the failed status quo has resulted in violent crime rates soaring 31% between 2010 and 2020, Samantha Kerkman will uphold law and order and fight to ensure law enforcement has the tools and resources needed to keep families safe. 

Kenosha County voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election by a margin of just 255 votes. It was the first time the county had voted Republican since Richard Nixon.

Trump won the county by a larger margin in the 2020 Presidential election, 51-48%

The county, which borders Illiniois and Lake Michigan, is considered a rust belt city that has seen severe de-industrialization.