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Cable chamber director runs for state senate

James Bolen

Cable businessman James Bolen announced plans to run for Wisconsin's 25th Senate District.

The Republican, a native of Park Falls who grew up in Winter, Wisconsin, announced plans to supporters in Rice Lake and Phillips recently.

Bolen is challenging one-term incumbent Janet Bewley, D-Delta.

Bolen, with his family, owns and operates Lake Owen Resort. He has also served as the executive director of the Cable Area Chamber of Commerce for 11 years.

"Through my role here at the Chamber and as someone who's run a business in Northwest Wisconsin for 20 years, I've been to Madison a lot the last couple of years," Bolen said. "I've seen some great stuff being done in other parts of the state, and have been approached by some business leaders from around the 25th District saying 'hey, can you help us with this project or can you help connect us to someone?'"

In that capacity, he said he has served as a representative to a certain extent already.

"I just thought that we needed to have stronger representation than we have in Madison right now," Bolen said. "I actually started going around, you know, who might be a good advocate for us down there. All the different people I was speaking to said, 'you would be.'"

In addition to his business experience and role with the Cable Area Chamber of Commerce, Bolen has been honored with the Governor's Service Excellence award for work on the organizing committee for the 2015 International Paralympic Committee's Nordic Skiing World Championships held in Cable. Bolen has served on the Bayfield County Economic Development Corporation board of directors since 2011 and served as a volunteer fireman and SCUBA rescue diver in Cable. He also devotes time to volunteering for various events such as the Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival and American Birkebeiner.

"I wasn't really looking to start a career in politics, but I think I can go to Madison as a citizen legislator and represent the North, and make sure Madison knows things are different north of Highway 8," Bolen said. He said his goal is to educate other legislators so that when they are considering a bill to address an issue in the southern part of the state, it doesn't create an issue that didn't exist in the northern part of the state.

"Life is different north of Highway 8; we often celebrate that," Bolen said. "We don't have the traffic problems. It's where people want to come to vacation. But it also comes with some unique challenges."

He said people who live north of Highway 8 do so because they've figured out how to survive those challenges.

As a state senator, he said he would work with other legislators to produce bills that would not only work for the southern part of the state, but for the North as well.

"I don't think there is a legislator in Madison who doesn't want to create the best bill that it can be," Bolen said. "Their desire is to pass a good bill, and what your representative needs to do is articulate to other legislators who aren't familiar with a rural area, your legislator needs to help them understand that."

Bolen earned a degree in communication at Grand Rapids School of the Bible & Music in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which was absorbed by Cornerstone University in the 1990s.

"I've proven my ability to build relationships and to get things done," Bolen said.

For more information about the candidate, go to