Editor’s note: Wausau Pilot and Review gladly publishes letters from readers and 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 editor@wausaupilotandreview.com or mail to 500 N. Third St. Suite 208-8, Wausau, Wis., 54403.

Dear editor,

My name is Tricia Zunker and I am running to be your Congressional Representative for the 7th Congressional District in the special election on May 12.  I’m running for this seat for many reasons, but most of all, I believe I have the ability to be a representative for all people as we work toward economic security, health care coverage that is affordable and comprehensive, and environmental protection for generations to come.

I was born and raised in Wausau. I grew up in a strong union household and my mom is a USW Local 2-224 member to this day. My grandpa was a dairy farmer in the town of Easton. I come from humble beginnings and I know what it is like to live paycheck to paycheck. But I had opportunities in my life, and I seized upon them; these opportunities allowed me to be the first college graduate in my family. Then I went to law school and I became a judge for my tribe, the Ho-Chunk Nation. Because I believe in giving back a career path, I am also a law school professor and the board president of the Wausau School District. And I hope I am showing my son how important a life of service is.

Now more than ever, we need someone in office who will advocate for affordable health care and economic security for all Wisconsinites. I will work to expand access to affordable health care, make sure pre-existing conditions stay protected, and take on big pharma to lower the cost of prescription drugs. My opponent, State Senator Tom Tiffany has spent a long time trying to stop health care coverage for all, speaking out against the Affordable Care Act at every opportunityI’ll advocate for additional help for small businesses and farmers, for funding to expand rural broadband access and funding for improved infrastructure. Tom Tiffany has been an elected official for years and has not done anything to improve broadband access in the 7th CD, thereby limiting economic opportunities for small businesses, farmers and students trying to compete in today’s world. And he’s had plenty of time to improve our roads, but he hasn’t; we have some of the most damaged roads in the 7th CD that need serious repair.

One of the core pieces of the Northwoods identity is our natural resources. Our vibrant lakes and forests support anglers, hunters and tourism. Our ski slopes and snowmobile infrastructure are world class. Tiffany has a history of selling out our lands for mines and rolling back environmental regulations, proudly taking credit for authoring the bill that hurts our environment. We need to make sure our beautiful outdoors can be enjoyed for generations to come, not sold to the highest bidder. I will be a strong advocate for protecting our environment.

I have the moral fiber, work ethic and experience to get the job done for you in Congress. While I have beliefs and am a fiercely independent thinker, the act of being a representative is about being a servant to the people in your district, advocating for them, hearing what they have to say, and fighting to make their lives better. Know that I’m going to advocate for every person in this district, whether they voted for me or not. I’m going to put partisan politics aside and work hard to make life better here in Wisconsin. I will be accountable to you the people, not outside interest groups like those that infiltrated our state to fund Tiffany’s election; they even spent about $250,000 in a personal attack ad full of lies about me in their repugnant attempts to buy this elected seat. I’m the only person in this race running a grassroots campaign and I refuse to accept corporate PAC money because we need representatives who are accountable to the people, not the corporate interests. I’m the only person in this race who can be that representative. 

I am so honored to have the endorsement and support of Congressman Dave Obey – he was my representative my entire childhood. And one thing I repeatedly heard throughout my travels in this district was the loss of his amazing constituency services. I’ll prioritize constituency services to ensure that you get the help you need. We will have town hall meetings with ample notice for everyone, real office hours again with real answers and solutions, and we will get back to the ability to agree or disagree civilly and with respect.

If you requested your absentee ballot, it must be received by 8 p.m. on May 12, by mail or dropped off at a polling place. If you vote in person on Tuesday, please be sure to take all necessary safety precautions in the interest of the health and safety of everyone. 

I must acknowledge and thank all the wonderful people I met around the district before the pandemic made travel and face-to-face time impossible. We have had hundreds of amazing volunteers and exceptionally great staff, and I’m honored by the opportunity and the support. Thank you for taking the time to work toward restoring healthy government to Wisconsin’s 7th CD by supporting this campaign.

These are extraordinary times; some might be scared, some might be unsure. But I am running for Congress because I know we need leadership; we need major positive changes now. I know we need a new vision and a new voice, and I know we are better served by having a local representative actually represent local people, rather than the special interests that rose up to fund my opponent.   

It will be a great honor to represent the people of Wisconsin in Congress. I am humbly requesting your vote on election day. Please vote Tricia Zunker for Congress on May 12. Thank you.

To learn more, visit www.triciaforwisconsin.com.

 Tricia Zunker of Wausau