A Kenosha County Sheriff candidate forum scheduled for next week will continue as planned, according to Kenosha Professional Police Association President, Pete Deates. This is, after candidate James Simmons canceled today, after previously agreeing to debate Sgt. Zoerner. Deates planned a forum for the two candidates to occur next Thursday, October 13, 2022 from 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm at Kenosha’s Southwest Library. The forum is a joint venture between the police unions from the three largest police departments in Kenosha County – Kenosha Police, Kenosha Sheriff’s Department, and Pleasant Prairie Police. All three unions will work together to come up with the questions and each candidate will be allowed to make a 5-minute opening statement. The forum will be moderated by KPPA Vice-President Jason Melichar. According to Deates, this was all revealed to Simmons when he agreed to participate. Deates said Simmons canceled right after the notification was made to the media about the forum. Deates says this does a disservice to the residents of Kenosha County, saying, “Unfortunately, this just prevents our Association and others from learning about both candidates to be able to make an informed decision about endorsements and votes. Even though James Simmons changed his mind about the forum, that is his right to do so.”
Simmons made a Facebook post on Wednesday saying that the KPPA is the “right hand of the Republican Party.” This confused KPPA President Deates and the Chairman of the Republican Party of Kenosha County, Erin Decker who is also Vice-Chair of the Kenosha County Board. Reached by KCE Decker told us “The Republican Party of Kenosha County has no association with these organizations. To be honest I met [Deates] once or twice very briefly to donate to KPPA’s ‘shop with a cop'” We spoke to Deates who told us that he doesn’t know Erin.
The bulk of KPPA endorsements are for so called “non-partisan” offices, like Mayor and City Aldermen. Throughout the last couple of decades, the KPPA has endorsed both Democrats and Republicans.
“We make our endorsements based off of what we have learned about the candidates running and who aligns with the views that help us achieve our mission of being fair, impartial and upholding the law. Anyone in law enforcement should have that same mission,” said Deates.
KCE emailed Simmons. We asked him why he doesn’t trust other police officers to administer a fair forum. “I trust cops but I don’t trust politics!” said Simmons.
Erin Decker doesn’t take Simmons at his word, however. “Candidate for Sheriff, James Simmons, is afraid to answer questions at a forum hosted by the KPPA, KCDSA, and the PPPA. Instead of being honest about it, he is blaming the RPKC……We need a sheriff who isn’t afraid to answer tough questions and fight crime in Kenosha County.”
Reached Wednesday night, Sgt. Zoerner was disappointed in Simmons’ decision to skip the event. “I was very much looking forward to standing next to my opponent and telling the Kenosha County residents how I have the expertise and experience to make Kenosha County safer. I will still be there.”
Although Simmons has said he won’t be attending the forum, Deates told KCE, “I hope he changes his mind. If he does, he is certainly welcome to attend.”