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In my own words

I was born in Viroqua, raised in Gays Mills, and educated in LaCrosse and Milwaukee. I grew up in a lower middle class home and learned what being a good neighbor is about from my parents. I married Ed Swiggum late in life and have three great stepkids and three wonderful grandkids. Ed seems to know everyone in our area and gladly steps up to help family, friends, and neighbors. He’s also the funniest person I know!

 

I moved back to the home farm in Gays Mills from Milwaukee in 2005 to look after my dad, a Navy veteran who retired from working as a journeyman lineman in 1993. Caring for my 94 year old dad while working full-time has shown me just how difficult it can be to access quality health care in rural Wisconsin, particularly for the elderly. Dad’s veterans’ benefits have often made the difference in affordability of medications, but between the distances we’ve had to travel to get quality care, and the bureaucracy involved, keeping Dad healthy has had some huge challenges. If I hadn’t spent decades working in the healthcare industry, these challenges might have been insurmountable. I’m determined to make healthcare more accessible and more affordable for everyone in the 96th District. 

 

I’ve served the people of Wisconsin for 22 years as a registered nurse, and I can clearly see that our democracy’s vital signs are fading fast. It’s time we brought a nurse’s approach to representing the 96th district. Nurses don’t just look for problems: we see and care for the whole person, do what common sense requires, and always keep the big picture in mind. Our Wisconsin state government needs a serious injection of big-picture, real-world perspective – and a major transfusion of common sense.

 

I was an English teacher in schools in Wisconsin and Texas before I became a nurse, and I saw first-hand the difference between Texas schools and the education I’d been provided here at home. Wisconsin had built a stellar educational tradition over the decades, when we were known as a progressive, pro-union state. But since 2011, we’ve lost a great deal of ground. Far too many of our best teachers have abandoned Wisconsin since the enactment of Act 10, which wrecked the ability of working people to bargain for their salaries and their benefits. It’s become harder and harder for rural districts to attract and retain quality teachers. Schools in our rural communities should be inspiring, safe spaces where teachers feel respected. After all: teachers’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions! 

 

Wisconsin’s 96th Assembly District is, at its best, one of the safest, most picturesque places in America. But too many of us have found economic opportunity elsewhere over the years, and it seems like Madison has turned its attention away from the ridges and valleys we call home. We need to take a nurse’s approach to what ails us, and consider the big picture, treating the whole person rather than chasing symptoms. We need to cultivate our strengths and take a clear-eyed look at issues which need to be addressed. There’s no sugar-coating it: state government has lost its way and become a cynical, short-sighted contest for power. The career politicians have turned us against each other. We need to send in the nurse!