A change at Winnebago County Executive, for the first time in 16 years

Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 6:21 PM CDT
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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - A big change is being made in Winnebago County for the first time in 16 years.

This after voters denied County Executive Mark Harris another term, picking instead, Jon Doemel, owner of Zaroni’s Pizza, making his first run for public office.

Doemel won by nearly two thousand votes.

“When an independent like this can run, an everyday guy can run and actually hit a bar as high as Winnebago County Executive it sends a message that people can get involved and you can have a grass roots effort win,” he said.

Doemel doesn’t consider himself a politician, and only decided to run for office for the first time because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He added, “We’ve always been helping people throughout the whole pandemic and government seemed very focused on COVID but they dropped the ball on all of the other epidemics surrounding it.”

Over the past several months, controversy has surrounded the Winnebago County board, as they debated a mask mandate and enforcement efforts.

“I still believe I was making the right choices, but I accept the voters right to come to a different conclusion,” said County Executive Mark Harris, who believes the issue likely played a role in his defeat.

“There was always this interplay between people who wanted us to do nothing or do less so that they have their personal rights and those who wanted us to do more to protect the community and those two were divisive camps,” Harris added.

Besides addressing the pandemic, Doemel has other ideas too.

He said, “Step one is going to be culture. I’ve done a lot of listening in the last three months and I’ve sat down with a lot of county workers and we have a culture issue. It doesn’t mean everybody has to write each other Christmas cards or go out to eat everyday, but you have to have respect and dignity with your co-workers and you have to have pride in what you do.”

Moving forward Harris says he intends to retire.

Doemel will be sworn into office on April 20th.

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