Kriss Marion

Kriss Marion

A farmer and LaFayette County supervisor said Wednesday she plans to run for the 17th Senate District seat currently held by Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green.

Kriss Marion, a Democrat, owns Circle M Market Farm in Blanchardville, which she runs with her husband. She has been active in the effort to allow home bakers in Wisconsin to sell their goods without a food processing plant license.

Marion said she is running to "stand up for the interests of rural places."

"Our tax money should be put to work in our district where it's desperately needed for roads, schools, Main Street redevelopment, small businesses and long-awaited basic broadband," Marion said in a statement. "Give us decent tools, remove silly regulatory barriers and watch us grow the economy."

Marion was one of three plaintiffs in a lawsuit that overturned the state's ban on selling home-baked goods. Marion and other proponents of the change have continued to push for the policy to be codified in state law with a "Cookie Bill." 

The 17th Senate District includes all of Grant, Lafayette, Juneau and Richland counties and parts of Iowa, Sauk, Green, Monroe and Vernon counties. It was last represented by a Democrat in 1978, and not since 1854 before that.

Marklein, a former state representative since 2010, was elected to the seat in 2014 after Republican Rep. Dale Schultz retired. The race was a top target for Democrats that year, but Marklein won by 10 points. 

Marklein serves on the Legislature's budget-writing committee and is a certified public accountant who grew up on a dairy farm in Spring Green. 

Marklein and Marion are the only two candidates registered with the state Elections Commission to run for the seat.

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Jessie Opoien is the Capital Times' opinion editor. She joined the Cap Times in 2013, covering state government and politics for the bulk of her time as a reporter. She has also covered music, culture and education in Madison and Oshkosh.