January 10, 2020 – Washington Co., WI – Accolades are flooding in following word West Bend Dist. 8 alderman and Washington County Dist. 2 Supervisor Roger Kist has submitted a letter of resignation.
According to West Bend Clerk Stephanie Justmann the letter was presented Friday, January 10 just after noon.
Dated January 10, 2020 the letter says:
“After careful consideration and conversations with family, I am tending my resignation as City of West Bend Alderman for District 8 effective immediately, pursuant to Section 17.01, Wis. Stats., due to my current health issues.
It has been an honor and privilege to serve the people of the City of West Bend, Wisconsin in this position since April 2009.”
There are few communities as lucky as Washington County to have a plethora of people dedicated to helping make it a better place. One of the notable community leaders is Roger Kist. Officials from Washington County, the City of West Bend and local non-profits offered a comment when they heard the news with many of the notes focusing on the same theme of “dedication and community service.”
Washington County Supervisor and former Washington County Clerk Marilyn Merten – Way before Roger was on county board, I worked with him on Land Use and Parks. He got things done around the courthouse so it looked appropriate. Roger was always someone who was willing to help keep the county in good operation. He was a very dedicated individual who wanted to do service to the public. His idea on the county board was service. When he was Ranger Roger he was always dedicated to the parks and he did whatever he could to see the parks were taken care of. I remember Roger would stop into the clerk’s office to see everything was kosher. Roger had a very old-school type of dedication.
Former West Bend Mayor Kraig Sadownikow – It is not too often someone truly dedicates a lifetime to public service. Roger is one of rare individuals who has. My most sincere Thank You and utmost gratitude go out to both Roger and his family for their dedication to West Bend and Washington County.
Former Washington County Board Chairman Ken Miller – Roger was in parks for a long time and managed all the parks in the county. I didn’t always agree with Roger’s vote as a representative with the county, but he sure did manage the parks well and he kept them top notch. As chairman of the Republican Party he did a good job letting everybody know what was going on.
Former Washington County Fair Park Executive Director Sandy Lang – We always knew him as Ranger Roger from the parks system. I’ve known Roger and Denise more so as friends from their community service and church. He’s an all-around great guy. Roger always took on a lot; when he said he was going to do something he did it to completion.
Assembly Rep. Rick Gundrum – I enjoyed serving with Roger on the Washington County Board. He was a very dedicated public servant who took his role as County Supervisor seriously. Roger made it a priority to attend all committee meetings so when it was time to vote he’d be well informed on the issues. Whether he agreed with you or not on an issue Roger was always respectful of your views and opinions.
Janean Brudvig, Executive Director of Interfaith Caregivers of Washington County – Roger has been a wonderfully dedicated friend of Interfaith Caregivers of Washington County. We got to know Roger better several years ago when he was looking for help with his brother. As he learned about our organization and how we help the elderly in our community – Roger did what Roger does so very well – he became an advocate of our mission, helping folks age independently, and he became involved!! Since then, Roger has served an active role, supporting and attending many of our events and activities. Roger was also a member of our newly formed Senior Corps Advisory Board, helping to get it off the ground.
Kist announced in November 2019 he would not be running for reelection to the County Board in April 2020. He served as a supervisor since winning election in April 2016. Kist turned in his non-candidacy papers early. Joseph R. Vespalec has already turned in signatures to run for the seat in April 2020.
Kist is still a sitting alderman in West Bend District 8. His current term on the council was scheduled to end in 2021. Kist was elected District 8 alderman in 2009. He beat incumbent Neal Narveson; Kist has won reelection to the two-year term ever since. In April 2014, Kist took out papers to run for mayor of West Bend. He challenged incumbent Kraig Sadownikow and lost, however he retained his aldermanic seat in Dist. 8.
The West Bend Common Council will meet to determine how to fill the seat in Dist. 8. According to the City Clerk the open seat will not be added to the April 7, 2020 ballot. In the past the city has accepted applications and following a review the council has appointed a replacement.
Kist retired as manager of Washington County Parks in September 2003; he held that position for 35 years.
Kist joined the Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau in September 2003.
Kist was a young pup when he moved to Ridge Run Park in November 1967. Originally hired as caretaker of the park, Kist said it “reminded me a lot of when I worked on the farm.” A supervisor at the park, Kist sported a handlebar mustache and eventually became a fixture known as Ranger Roger.
“When I was on the council I was also chairman of the local Republican Party,” said Kist. “I remember Mike Schlotfeldt was elected alderman and he chaired the Democratic Party. When he sat down he looked over at me like the devil had just shown up.”
Kist took his time and built a relationship with the representative from Dist. 6. “When Mike decided not to run again we had a little party and he said to me, ‘Roger you’re the only friend I’ve got.’”
Over the years Kist has made quite a few friends and below are some comments from those he’s met along the way who talk about the impact he’s made in this county.
West Bend Police Chief Ken Meuler: I met Roger before he ever ran for alderperson as he has always been actively involved in the community. He donates his time to a number of community events, and supports almost every community function. Anyone out in the community will see him at Music on Main, Farmer’s Market, church festivals, parades, and numerous fundraisers in the community. During his time as an alderperson he has not been someone that pounds his fists or grandstands, but he always speaks up on issues that are important to him and his constituents. He has called me on a number of police issues to get a better understanding of our policies and practices. He has been a strong supporter of the police throughout his tenure as alderperson. I have always enjoyed working with Roger as an alderperson and appreciate all he has done for the community. More important, I value his friendship.
Leah Baughman at Interfaith Caregivers of Washington County: “Roger Kist is very active and in touch with the West Bend community and knows what is needed to help support its citizens. When asked if he would like to be a part of the Interfaith/RSVP Advisory Council Roger very graciously accepted right away. Even though this venture has just begun he has been an important member that has contributed many great ideas and support.”
Todd Tennies remembered Kist when he worked and lived at Ridge Run Park. “As a little boy I can remember going to Ridge Run Park and riding bikes past the log cabin as we headed to our favorite fishing spot. Roger would always stop and say ‘Hi’ and ask us how the fishing was. He was always friendly and willing to talk to us kids. After his retirement from the county he settled in and served the community through his involvement in city government. He did a great job and always had an interest in what was best for the community. His interest in our county also carried over into the Tourism Committee for Washington County. He did an extraordinary job promoting the Washington County Fair Park as well as all of our wonderful parks we have in this county. Great job Roger.”
Dist. 5 alderman Rich Kasten said Kist is somebody he really admires. “The things he’s accomplished at the county and city and he can still walk down the street and people know him from Ridge Run Park. I wish I could be more like him with his ability to relate to people and between him and his wife the way they’re prepared for every meeting. I’m very lucky I’ve been able to spend time on the council with him.”
Dist. 4 alderman Chris Jenkins -“I am shocked to see Roger, who is such a pillar in our community, step away from serving, but considering the amount of time and dedication he’s put into our community over many of our lifetimes – this is a well-deserved rest. I will remember Roger as the guy who would pull me aside and give me his straight-forward unabashed opinion no matter what. He spoke up during meetings whenever he felt compelled, he attended every event and meeting he could, and his lifetime of service is one to be admired.
I thank him for the opportunity to serve along side him on the West Bend Common Council and Washington County Board, and wish him and his wife nothing but the best as he enjoys retirement!”
West Bend City Administrator Jay Shambeau said Kist’s name is relatively synonymous with park land and this community. “To promote the development, use and preserving of parks and the fact he has not wavered in his opinion is really a tribute to him. He’s everywhere. He’s the longstanding West Bend member of the Mid-Moraine Municipal Association and he attends league conferences and the Alliance meetings.”
Former West Bend city clerk Amy Reuteman spent 15 years at City Hall and noted, “Roger Kist has been there forever. And he’s early; you can always count on Roger to be early.”
Thank you Roger Kist for your dedication and service to help make West Bend and Washington County a great community.
On a side note: In 2017 I hosted an evening at Music on Main. It was right before the school year was to get underway and I challenged readers of WashingtonCountyInsider.com to bring their school picture to the event and I’d treat them to a beverage of their choice. Roger Kist was the first attendee to respond. I told him I thought he looked a lot like Dennis the Menace.
As former county supervisor district 5, I served with Roger on the West Bend Senior Center Board. Roger is a class act. I enjoyed working with him. Best Wishes!