This is an Op-Ed by Angela Kretchmer
The Village of Pleasant Prairie is changing. For those of us that live here – whether long-term residents or relative newcomers, what attracted us to the Village in the first place seems to be in danger. The desire by our leaders for continuous development of open spaces, including proposed high-density subdivisions and seemingly endless warehouse and distribution centers, is rapidly paving over our namesake prairie. We are also finding our Village leaders in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Allegations of corruption by multiple Village whistleblowers reveal an alarming lack of oversight by our elected Village officials.
While there are 3 Village offices up for election this spring, there is only one challenger to the status quo – James Kremer. James is running for Trustee #1 against long-time incumbent Kris Keckler. James has never run for political office before and will bring a much-needed fresh perspective to a Village Board that has perhaps become too comfortable in their roles.
James has worked in the private sector for 30-plus years, currently for over a decade as a managing director for a large audit, accounting, and consulting firm. He understands the need for strict oversight and accountability for our taxpaying residents and small-business owners, and his private sector experience will allow him to quickly leverage that know-how as part of the Board.
As I talk with my friends, neighbors and co-workers that live in the Village, I hear the same concerns nearly across the board. The corruption allegations were not surprising at all to those of us that have lived here the longest, and many were frustrated that there was insufficient oversight by the elected leaders of the Village who were apparently unaware of these allegations. They were also unhappy with how the recent referendum for additional public safety officers seems to not only have funded some new officers and firefighters, but the Village was ready with new police and fire stations as well. Many question the need for two brand new facilities, especially the new police station considering the large parcel of land where police and public works currently operate out of.
But apart from the corruption concerns, by far the biggest worry they have is around what seems to be an accelerating focus on development, no matter the impact on the Village. Most of us support some continued growth, but it’s the nature of the growth that makes us nervous. The density of some of the proposed developments, including the proposed next phase of Devonshire and the widely-panned downtown Village Green, cause many to question why elected Village leaders are pushing these types of developments so hard. Why do we need to grow so much, and how does this “growth” really benefit our current residents?
James shares those concerns. He and his wife moved to the Village seven years ago and have decided to make this their long-term home. They are very involved in their parish at St. Anne’s, and their grown daughters and grandkids love to visit the area. The Kremers love Kenosha County and were attracted to the Village for its natural beauty, friendliness and reputation for relatively low taxes. James has decided that now is the right time to step up to serve as Village Trustee, and to bring a more rigorous approach to oversight and fiscal responsibility. As I’ve gotten to know James, I fully trust that he will not only deliver on those promises but will be a responsive voice for homeowners and small business owners across Pleasant Prairie.