This important political year started with a few pleasant surprises. First – and most importantly – we have a fresh crop of local progressive candidates who are running for state, county, school board and city government. No less than a half dozen local seats will go to new Democratic candidates uncontested. This is called building a bench and these new office holders along with returning stalwarts like John Robinson and Joel Lewis will be able to work together to build a progressive voice in local government.
January was a month that also had the Marathon County Democratic Party hosting two well-attended events that attracted a numbers of new faces. The Women For Women caucus showed a movie called “Iron Jawed Angels” that filled the party office. The movie focuses on women who fought for the right to vote and ultimately changed the political landscape of the country.
In addition, the Marathon County Democratic Party held our annual Holiday Party. Seventy-five people packed into Gulliver’s Landing to hear the keynote speaker, Kevin Kennedy, Director and General Council of the Government Accountability Board, speak to the creation and ultimate dismantling of the GAB. Kennedy was informative and inspiring as he traced his steps from the Director of the Elections Board in 1983 to his current position that will expire in a few short months. He took those present through a series of events that demonstrates a current Republican political leadership that wants little if any accountability for how they finance elections.
Another highpoint of the evening was presentation of the Dave Obey Person of Principle Award to Carolyn Michalski. Carolyn was recognized not only for a lifetime of commitment to the community but especially her work for the Marathon County Democratic Party this past year.
This coming election year will present us with many challenges but it is clear that we have a growing local strength to meet these challenges.
Each year the Marathon County Democrats present the Person of Principle award to someone in our community who has demonstrated characteristics that have best defined Dave Obey:
— a dedication to fighting for everyday people;
— principled leadership through integrity, perseverance and compassion;
— a passion for Democratic and progressive values.
The recipient of this year’s award is Carolyn Michalski. In various leadership positions during her nearly 30 year career with North Central Technical College, Carolyn championed the needs of non traditional students, helping to build a dedicated workforce that would support expanding economic development throughout the NTC’s 10 county region. She has been a tireless community volunteer; serving on boards for Marathon County Workforce Development, Kids Voting, President of the Children’s Services Board, Co-President of the Neighbors Place Board, and vice president/secretary for Center for Visual Arts Board. She was selected as a Fellow for the two-year Leadership Wisconsin program (formerly the Wisconsin Rural Leadership program) and serves as an ambassador for United Way’s RSVP program that encourages and supports volunteers 55 and older. Carolyn has received a number of honors including the 1998 YWCA Women of Vision Award and the Wis. Vocational Educator Association Administrator of the Year.
In retirement, Carolyn has become active with the Marathon County Dems and has spearheaded the effort that has become our Women for Women Caucus. This initiative promotes the involvement of women in our political process; it informs and educates the public on the many issues and concerns that impact women and their families and it supports women candidates and all candidates that advance those issues. The success and growth of this initiative is due in no small measure to Carolyn’s leadership.
For these and the many other contributions that Carolyn has and we know will continue to make for the benefit of so many, we are happy to present to Carolyn the 2016 David R. Obey Person of Principle Award.
I have a passion to bring real representation to the 86th Assembly District. Let’s work together to create a common sense approach to creating family sustaining jobs that above all; pay a living wage and show respect for pay equity.
Our families are working harder and harder and falling further and further behind. Our legislature should be more supportive of working families by making child care more affordable, tax credits for child care and paid sick leave.
Health care is basic human right. We need to work at attaining better access to this so everyone has a higher quality of life.
Let’s support our children with a great public education. Public schools along with our technical colleges and universities are the best investment we can make in our communities future.
We must work to keep our control at a local level. Wisconsinites value the environment. Legislation should protect our land, water and air.
I will work to stand up for our values and work with my colleagues to create real solutions in our state. Let’s make our communities a great place to live!
Mary Thao, 37, a first born generation to Hmong refugee parents, is running for Wausau School Board in the April 5th, 2016 election. She holds a Master’s in Business Administration from Hamline University, studied abroad in The People’s Republic of China, has seventeen years in the information technology field, and currently is the Information Technology Manager, for Volm Companies, Inc.
Mary has extensive volunteer experience in working with the Hmong youth by promoting athletics as well as volunteering for organizations that seek to reduce poverty such as Neighbor’s Place.
“We must respect, attract and retain innovative educators and professionals who will be leaders to our children,” said Thao. “If we want innovative educators to come to our district and produce high-quality education results, we have to value and respect their professions and concerns.”
Thao is an active PTO member at Lincoln Elementary working on budget and communication issues and has helped organize fundraisers to benefit the students, parents and teachers. She most recently engaged with the Wausau School Board to develop different options other than closing down Lincoln Elementary, which went to referendum this past April 2015 election.
“Creating opportunities and access for all kids starts with a well-balanced state budget, which supports the Wausau School District building strong strategies,” said Thao. “Those strategies must maintain programs that impact high academic achievement and those that support the needs of those who are most impacted like low-income, rural and special education programs.”
Thao is married to Yeng Thao and they have four children. Mary and Yeng Thao own a transportation business in the state of Wisconsin.