Nov. 20, 2008
Bill Kron calls it quits on 32-year career
on County Board
By John Myers
It wasn’t the first snowstorm Bill Kron
braved to attend a St. Louis County Board meeting, but it was his
Kron, who has served as St. Louis County’s
3rd District commissioner since 1977, attended his final County
Board meeting in Ely on Tuesday.
At least, it was his final meeting as county commissioner
representing most of Duluth’s western neighborhoods.
Kron made 1,500 of those County Board meetings
without a miss. Now, his peers say, he’ll be missed.
“I think of Bill as the iron man of county
commissioners,” said Commissioner Steve O’Neil, who
represents central Duluth. “In 32 years he missed only one
board meeting, and he was excused from that one to testify in Congress
on an issue that was important to the county.”
Kron lost a close race on Nov. 4 to former Duluth
City Councilor Chris Dahlberg, who will take office in January.
Kron says he doesn’t have firm plans yet
for his future.
“I’m going to spend more time with
my grandchildren … and I’ve got some options out there
to pursue,” Kron said after his last meeting. “And I’d
like to try some creative writing, maybe plays or magazines.”
Kron, 62, was first elected to the county post
in 1976 — the same day Jimmy Carter was elected president.
He said he’s proud of the board’s accomplishments while
he served, citing expanded economic development efforts, including
those to help Duluth’s Cirrus Design Corp. He also served
on the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, where he was president from
Kron also has worked to improve county services
for the young and the elderly, and often cites a program he helped
form that gives teenagers internships at some of Duluth’s
best employers, learning valuable job skills. Instead of getting
paid, however, some 2,400 participants in the Incredible Exchange
have received free passes to local attractions such as Spirit Mountain.
“When I got on the board, it was roads,
culverts, maybe some law enforcement … but our duties grew
so much in the 1980s with human services, corrections and more,”
Kron served as chairman of the County Board in
1996, 2000 and 2007. It was last year when, as chairman, he tried
to calm growing animosity among some board members and growing tensions
between the board and county employees and the public.
While some criticized Kron for not doing enough
when two other commissioners were accused of sexual harassment of
county employees, others say he brought a calming influence that
kept the board from unraveling further.
“I think he was unfairly brought into that
picture,” O’Neil said. “He did the best he could
to step up for fairness and justice in the system. But I think he
got caught up being an incumbent.”
Ross Litman, St. Louis County sheriff, was a strong
supporter of Kron. Litman said Kron was quick to understand that
crime prevention programs often save money over emergency law enforcement,
court and jail costs. Programs Kron supported, such as drug court
and DWI court, also help rescue people’s lives.
“He was very supportive of our drug task
forces and I served with him on the meth committee. He really understood
what we were trying to do,” Litman said. “I’m
going to miss working with him. He’s a man of great integrity
and judgment. And he truly served his constituents well.”
About Bill Kron
Kron has lived in western Duluth all his life.
He graduated from Denfeld High School and UMD. He and his wife,
Pat, have been married 38 years and raised three children, now adults,
and adopted four more. Kron has been a steelworker, small-business
owner, zookeeper and teacher and is a veteran of the U.S. Navy.
Now, he says he’ll enjoy being a grandfather. A reception
was held for Kron last week at the board’s final meeting in
Duluth. He noted at the event that he served alongside 22 county
commissioners over his tenure, five sheriffs, three county auditors
and five county administrators.