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Westlund announces candidacy for Wisconsin Senate

After working for U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin for seven years, Kelly Westlund resigns to run for state Senate seat.

Kelly Westlund.JPG
Marilyn Lange, a retired Superior school teacher, right, talks to Kelly Westlund before the former aide to U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin announces her candidacy for the Wisconsin Senate on Friday, April 15, 2022, at Empire Coffee in Superior.
Shelley Nelson / Superior Telegram
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SUPERIOR — Kelly Westlund of Ashland threw her hat in the ring Friday, April 15 to be the 25th District’s next Democratic state senator from the north.

Westlund, a former Ashland city councilor, spent the last seven years working in one of U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s field offices. She resigned the position in hopes of filling the seat that will be vacated in January by state Sen. Janet Bewley, D-Mason.

Bewley, retired state Sen. Bob Jauch of Poplar and Rep. Nick Milroy, D-South Range, were among those who gathered at Empire Coffee in Superior in support of Westlund’s campaign.

“She went to work for America’s best senator, Tammy Baldwin, doing the tough stuff — not on TV, but in the crowded room, in the not-so crowded rooms, in people’s homes, helping folks,” Mayor Jim Paine said during his introduction.

Working for Baldwin, Westlund said, gave her a “fantastic perspective” of the daily challenges, priorities, needs and interests of people and businesses across the 25th District.

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“There’s really a lot of ground to cover,” Westlund said of the largest district and furthest from Madison. “There’s so much diversity in this district. It really is a wonderful place.”

One of the issues Westlund said she’s heard repeatedly is people who would like to take the steps to start a business but can’t because of the cost of providing health care.

“We have the opportunity in Wisconsin to accept the federal incentive that would cover the investment that would pay for insurance for 91,000 Wisconsinites … our federal taxes are already paying for it,” Westlund said.

She said another challenge for local elected officials in providing services are the levy limits. Westlund said the levy limits coupled with declining shared revenues have real impacts in communities.

“We have a party in Madison that has become so extreme and so focused on maintaining power, they have proven to us they are not even willing to listen to ideas from the other side,” Westlund said.

Westlund said, stepping into the race as a candidate of the minority party, she understands she won’t be able to address all priorities at once.

“But doing that work for Sen. Baldwin, I know you just have to keep your head down and find the places where you can start to do that work,” Westlund said. “The things that are closest to home for most of us are the places where you can find bipartisan agreement. And you can build coalitions and share a vision, and you can get a lot of really important stuff done.”

So far, Westlund is the only Democrat running for the seat that will be on the Nov. 8 ballot.

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Republican candidate Romaine Quinn of Cameron announced his candidacy for the 25th District state senate seat in October. Quinn served in the Wisconsin Assembly representing the 75th District from 2014-2020 when he decided not to seek reelection to start a family with his wife, Racquel.

Shelley Nelson is a reporter with the Duluth Media Group since 1997, and has covered Superior and Douglas County communities and government for the Duluth News Tribune from 1999 to 2006, and the Superior Telegram since 2006. Contact her at 715-395-5022 or snelson@superiortelegram.com.
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