The race is on to fill a vacancy in the Wisconsin Legislature expected at the end of next year when Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, retires after more than 30 years in the Wisconsin Legislature. 

State Rep. Janet Bewley, D-Ashland, announced plans Monday to run for the Senate seat held by Jauch since 1985.

“Our government in Madison needs the continued presence of a strong, progressive voice for the people of the north,” Bewley said, announcing her intent to run. “I am convinced that I can be that trusted public servant. I feel a deep sense of purpose and commitment coming to this decision.”

Bewley, a former community relations officer with the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Agency, has served in the Wisconsin Assembly since 2011. She also served on the Ashland City Council from 2007 to 2009. Bewley represents the 74th Assembly District, which includes Bayfield, Ashland, Iron and Price counties, and portions of Douglas, Vilas and Sawyer counties.

Bewley said with all the experiences she’s had representing the 74th District, the people she’s met, the complicated issues she’s had to learn and understand and the thousands of miles of roads she’s traveled solidified her desire to serve the people of northwest Wisconsin.

“I’ve been there. I’ve done that. And I want to do it again,” Bewley said.

“I’ve had the honor and privilege of serving with Janet Bewley for the last three years, and she has an extremely good understanding of the people of northern Wisconsin,” said Rep. Nick Milroy, D-South Range. “And that’s exactly what we need in a senator.”

Milroy said he’s not planning to run for the seat in November.

“I have all the confidence in the world in Janet Bewley,” Milroy said.

“We’re a community of contrasts. We’re blessed with the most beautiful landscapes, the water, the wildlife, and yet we have some of the poorest residents, the oldest housing stock and deteriorating infrastructure.”

The north is an area of the state with the strongest work ethic, people devoted to their neighbors, Bewley said, yet we have to struggle to fund volunteer firefighters, first responders and EMTs.

“We are fiercely, fiercely independent, and committed to protecting our rights and our well-being. But the powers and controls of our local units of government in our towns, villages and cities is being eroded,” Bewley said. “We cherish our kids and their futures, yet we see funding for our schools cut while private schools in the southern part of our state flourish with your tax dollars.

“All we want is for common sense to prevail and local citizens to be treated fairly … and for our environment to be protected.”

Bewley said serving in the Assembly made her realize the value of good government.

“We must work together toward solutions that make sense,” Bewley said.