Editor’s note: Wausau Pilot and Review gladly publishes letters from readers and from all candidates for local offices. The views of our readers are independent of this newspaper and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wausau Pilot and Review. To submit a letter, email firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to 500 N. Third St. Suite 208-8, Wausau, Wis., 54403.
My name is Tricia Zunker and I am the Democratic candidate for the 7th Congressional District Special Election. I am running for this position because we need representation for the people, not the corporate interests. I am well-qualified and I care about other people. I care about other people’s grandparents, other people’s children, the environment and more. I have a demonstrated record of public service and have been a lifelong hard worker. I’m ready to work hard for you in Congress.
I was born and raised in Wausau. I am an enrolled member of the Ho-Chunk Nation. I come from generations of dairy farmers on my mom’s side. My grandpa had a farm in the town of Easton and farmed until his body could no longer farm.
I grew up in a strong union household. My mom is a 30+ year union member and current member of USW Local 2-224. I was on the picket lines with her as a child when James River was on strike in July 1992.
I am a first generation college graduate. I attended University of Wisconsin-Madison where I earned a triple major and certificate in four years. I was able to put myself through school through educational assistance from my tribe, scholarships and by working two jobs.
After college, I went to law school. I attended UCLA School of Law and I chose UCLA because of its stellar Federal Indian Law and Tribal Legal Development program. It was important to me to be able to gain that education and experience and bring it back to Wisconsin, which is exactly what I did.
I ran for the position of Associate Justice, Ho-Chunk Nation Supreme Court and prevailed. I am currently serving in my second elected term on the Ho-Chunk Nation Supreme Court.
In this time, I also made my way back home to Wausau. My grandpa, the dairy farmer I mentioned, was in his last years and it was important for me to bring my son home to be close to grandpa during those last years. I ran for school board in 2018, prevailed in that election, and currently serve as the Wausau School Board president.
Why I’m Running
We need to address the rising costs of healthcare. No one should die because they cannot afford their necessary treatment. No one should go bankrupt due to a medical issue. We need to ensure affordable, accessible healthcare, including mental healthcare. I support a robust public option for those who want it, but I am meeting with voters throughout this district who like their healthcare and want to keep it. Health decisions are deeply personal and I believe people must be empowered in their decision-making, not feel something is imposed on them. We also need to take on big pharma. I worked in intellectual property law early in my legal career and to see what big pharma is getting away with by overcharging us here in America is frustrating. We also need to ensure rural hospitals and related necessary services receive the funding they need.
We also must address the farm crisis. As the granddaughter of a dairy farmer, it is deeply upsetting to see the skyrocketing bankruptcies and suicides in our farm community. This great state is built on the hard work of our small farmers — we cannot turn our backs on them. We need to ensure access to competitive markets, eliminate predatory business practices that hurt our small farmers, ensure funding for mental health assistance for our farmers, and ensure broadband access for our farmers and throughout this district generally. And we need to support our small businesses because when we support our small businesses, we support our farmers.
We need to address wages. People shouldn’t have to work two or three jobs just to make ends meet.
We need to ensure good jobs and opportunities throughout this district.
We need to take care of our vulnerable populations — whether it is ensuring caretakers for our aging population or working to invest in our future by providing opportunities for our children to thrive. We also need to eliminate the child care deserts throughout this district.
We must address campaign finance reform. We need to get the corporate money out of politics and ensure representatives are accountable to the people, not the corporations. I refuse to accept corporate PAC money.
We need to prioritize where we spend our money. We need to stop funding never-ending foreign conflict and we need to close corporate tax loopholes. And we need the millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share.
And we need to protect Social Security.
There are many issues I could address, but the bottom line is that when it comes to decision-making, there are three principles that guide my decision-making:
1) Compassion. Is this the compassionate response?
2) Equality. It doesn’t matter what someone looks like, who they love or how they identify – does this legislation protect everyone equally?
3) Opportunity. Does this result in the most equitable and inclusive opportunity for people to have a chance at success?
That last principle is especially meaningful to me. I come from very humble beginnings, but opportunities presented themselves in my life and I seized on them. And I feel an obligation and a duty to give back to ensure other people have opportunities to improve their lives.
I have put thousands of miles on my car traveling throughout this large district meeting with voters and spent just as much time on the phone talking with voters. People are frustrated by the political attacks, divisiveness and gridlock – I am, too. We are more alike than we are different here in Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District and don’t need to separate by party lines.
We need to work with one another to effectuate positive change. I have a demonstrated record of working effectively with people on opposite sides of the political spectrum. I do this through respectful communication, listening to one another and by going to the facts and data to help determine the best possible result. I am committed to working across the aisle to achieve bipartisan solutions that improve life for everyone here in Wisconsin.
When I’m elected to this seat, I will be the first Native American (Ho-Chunk) representing Wisconsin in Congress. I will also be the first woman ever elected to represent Wisconsin’s 7th CD in Congress. I am not asking anyone to vote for me because I am a woman. I’m asking you to vote for me because I am a qualified woman who is going to get the job done. But women’s issues are human issues and it is high time that our women and our young girls see themselves reflected in congressional leadership. And our boys need to see that, too.
I look forward to working hard for you as your congresswoman and humbly ask for your support. Please vote Tricia Zunker for Congress on Feb. 18 (primary election) and May 12 (general election). Thank you.
Tricia Zunker, Democratic candidate, 7th Congressional District Special Election—