**Note: the appointment of Kevin Mathewson has been rescinded.
Conservatives, independents and liberals alike are voicing their opposition to County Executive Samantha Kerkman’s recent appointees. The nominations of Albert Brian Gonzales and Xavier Solis to the Racial and Ethnic Equity Commission and Kevin Mathewson to the Local Emergency Planning Commission have been met with an outcry from people across Kenosha county because these appointees are unqualified, partisan and highly controversial.
As a community, we should expect people who serve a role in County government to be among the very best our county has to offer and that they should believe in the work they are appointed to do.
At a minimum, appointees should not have brought harm, chaos, notoriety and shame to Kenosha County. They should not have contributed to the deaths of people in our community. They should not have superseded the role of law enforcement in our community. They should not appear on a list of Dangerous Individuals and Organizations. They should not be banned from a communication platform the appointment would require them to utilize.
Kevin Mathewson, appointed by Samantha Kerkman to the Local Emergency Planning Commission, is unable to pass even the low bar of not bringing harm and shame to our community. As self-appointed head of the ‘Kenosha Guard Militia’, Mathewson called armed vigilantes to take on the role of law enforcement; two people were killed and a third injured on our streets after that call went out. We have seen Kevin Mathewson’s “emergency plan”: it involves armed vigilantes on our streets, the death of unarmed residents and shame on our community.
County Executive Kerkman appointed Mathewson to a seat on the commission formerly held by an award-winning journalist. Mathewson is not a professional journalist. He operates what many in Kenosha County view as a politically slanted blog that he uses to demean members of the community he doesn’t like or agree with, often with inflammatory statements. These same Kenosha County residents would look with suspicion on any communications he puts out on behalf of the county. In fact, he is banned for life from one of the platforms he would be required to use. He is unqualified, hyper-partisan and a dangerous choice for the commission to which he’s been nominated.
The appointment of Gonzales, one of two Hispanic men appointed to the Racial and Ethnic Equity Commission, is even opposed by the county’s non-partisan Forward Latino organization, which represents Kenosha’s Hispanic community. They have called on the County Executive to rescind Gonzales’ appointment:
“He has no proven record of advocacy for, or community service to, the Latino community. Furthermore, he publicly opposed the creation of the Kenosha County’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator position. He stated that his reason for doing so was because he never experienced discrimination based on his ethnicity, and does not believe it exists in Kenosha. His appointment, if not withdrawn by the County Executive and if approved by the County Board, would completely undercut the community’s faith in the commission as well as the credibility of any recommendations it puts forth.”
Gonzales, a former Kenosha police officer, was the subject of a $1.75 million wrongful death settlement after shooting and killing Michael Bell Jr. in 2004 while on duty. He later wrote a memoir on the experience in which he compared killing Bell to hunting deer. Gonzales has also publicly stated that he personally hasn’t experienced systemic racism and that he doesn’t believe the government should address it.
Forward Latino has asked the County Executive to instead appoint a Hispanic man or woman with ties to, and an understanding of, Kenosha’s Hispanic community and the ability to understand and address systemic racism, the goal for which the Commission was formed.
Xavier Solis is Kerkman’s other nominee to the Racial and Ethnic Equity Commission and also does not represent the best our community has to offer. Solis chose to work with Lin Wood, whose foundation raised over $2 million for Kyle Rittenhouse’s bail. Wood is an election conspiracy theorist who was involved in the plot to overturn the 2020 presidential election and who, in court testimony, called Vice President Mike Pence a “traitor” for refusing to go along with the plot.
Solis also owned a bar in Kenosha which held an illegal event when it was not yet permitted to be open. The incident resulted in the trampling of a 17-year-old and law enforcement being pepper sprayed after shots were fired inside the illegally operating venue. As a lawyer, Mr. Solis knows the law and broke it anyway. The ability to obey the law, especially as an attorney, should be expected of all who serve in county government.
The County Executive has made over three dozen appointees to various committees and commissions since being elected in April, none of which have met with resistance from the community until these three egregious nominations were put forward.
It is the responsibility of our local government to maintain and work to improve the quality of life in Kenosha County. At minimum, it should do no harm. Conservatives, independents and liberals alike are opposing these three particular nominees because their appointments are viewed as harmful to the commissions to which they’ve been nominated, and therefore harmful to our community.
Write to urge the Kenosha County Board to vote NO on these appointments here:
(make sure to include your address)
You can also tell the County Executive to rescind these appointments:
Kenosha County Democratic Party Board
Kenosha County Board Meeting, March 7, 2023 Citizen comments begin 3:37
Kenosha County Board Meeting, Nov. 3, 2021 Brian Gonzales’ comments begin minute 39:30