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0737, 06 Jun 19

Washington County Board Chairman Advocates for County Executive

Don Kriefall takes on the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” argument. Here’s a part:

We are in a good situation, both fiscally and operationally. The fact of the matter is that we are in the middle of an economic boom, and our geographic location makes us part of metro Milwaukee and like it or not, the economic development has already begun.

There is good reason that people have decided to live in Washington County, the No. 1 county in Wisconsin for quality of life. We want to preserve the values and unique characteristics that make Washington County so special. We want to be in a position to manage growth and thereby maintain and continue to improve the quality of life for the citizens of Washington County. In order to effectively manage the growth, all stakeholders, countywide, need to be brought to the table. An appropriate plan of action, beyond our current smart growth plans, must be developed and agreed upon by all the municipalities in Washington County in order for each community to benefit from those opportunities. One voice, one leader with the mandate of the citizens, should lead Washington County into the bright future that awaits us.

We need a leader that can leverage our industry and technical schools to train the workers needed to provide the goods and services necessary for our citizens and beyond. We need a leader that can create partnerships outside of Washington County to recruit the workers necessary to fill employment opportunities currently open and those that will be created in the future. We need a leader that can work with developers to construct housing for that workforce that is appropriate to the communities in which they will be built. We need a leader that can work with other counties to explore avenues of cooperation in shared services, equipment and infrastructure.

A system with 26 diverse supervisors cannot negotiate as one voice. A system with a part-time county chairperson is inadequate to lead as the CEO of Washington County. Yes, our current system “ain’t broke,” but it is insufficient to accomplish the ever evolving tasks necessary to manage growth now and into the future. That one voice needs to be a county executive that is accountable to the electorate and the time to elect that leader is now.


0737, 06 June 2019


  1. guinness

    We lived in Grafton for 25+ years where my wife was raised on a small family dairy farm. They pushed the same growth and development as the rest of Ozaukee County. It got way too overcrowded for us, so we moved to Washington County. One of the reasons Washington county provides such a high quality life is the lack of over-development. In Grafton, we saw lots of farmland, wooded areas and wide open spaces turned into parking lots, factories and condos. Hopefully, a new CEO can do what the article is suggesting.

  2. Mark Hoefert

    I was sort of on the fence about if this will be a wise move or not – kind of associate elected county executive as too “big time” for a smaller county like Washington County.  Having spent all my life in Washington County, I guess the past growth has kind of crept up on me, and I have not considered what the future entails. He does make a compelling and articulate case for moving to a new form of governance, all the more compelling because it is coming from the Board Chairman, who stands to lose authority under this plan.

    Guiness, I had the opportunity to visit the Aurora Hospital in Grafton recently – was taken aback at how developed the Highway 60/Washington Avenue @ I-43 corridor has become.  40+ years ago I took that way to get to UW-MKE as a commuter student from West Bend.  After crossing Grafton Avenue, there was just a few houses, high school, Grafton Police Department, and a large factory, and then a few other scattered houses here and there before I got to the freeway.  I am not sure what control a county executive will have over development, as the local units of government will decide how their communities are developed, but I can see the county executive providing the “big picture” perspective that the locals can consider.

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