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The best way to figure out what kind of legislator Ann Groves Lloyd would be is to meet this deeply rooted Wisconsinite and get to know her. It won’t take long. She is the sort of person who greets people she is just meeting as she would an old friend, who always finds another chair at the table, and who invites everyone into the conversation.

In other words, she is a lot like the people who used to serve in the Wisconsin Legislature — people like Republican Mel Laird and Democrat Gaylord Nelson, partisan and ideological opposites who always found ways to work together. That should come as no great surprise, as Groves Lloyd is the granddaughter of a legislator who represented south-central Wisconsin (William Groves), and the grandniece of another legislator who represented the region (Harold Groves). Harold Groves, who served in the Assembly and the Senate as a Republican and then as a member of the Progressive Party, was a policy wonk who wrote the first unemployment compensation law in the nation and was an expert in tax policy. Bill Groves served as a La Follette Progressive in the Assembly and was one of the most outspoken advocates for farmers and rural communities the state has ever known.

Harold and William Groves were both highly effective legislators and lifetime advocates for what was best about Wisconsin. And we think that Ann Groves Lloyd, who is running for the state Assembly in a special election on June 12, would build on the family tradition. Groves Lloyd is running as a Democrat in a district that was gerrymandered to elect Republicans. But she is a viable contender because people have gotten to know her as she bids for the vacant seat representing the 42nd District, which includes all or part of Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Fond du Lac, Green Lake and Marquette counties. Folks are impressed with what they see. We feel the same way, and we heartily endorse her candidacy.

Groves Lloyd can trace her family’s roots in south-central Wisconsin back to the early 19th century; indeed, when Wisconsin recently celebrated the 170th anniversary of statehood, she noted that the Groves family had “settled down on our family farm” well before 1848.

Raised on a family farm just outside Lodi, Groves Lloyd takes pride in pointing out that she’s a fifth generation resident of the community she now serves as a nonpartisan member of the City Council. Her constituents in Lodi say she gets things done the old-fashioned way: by reaching across lines of ideology, region and circumstance. As such, she is exactly the sort of fresh face that Wisconsin needs in a Legislature where there is a great need for legislators who know how to get people working together for the best interest of communities across the state.

Smart and engaged, Groves Lloyd has a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and she has devoted much of her working life to the school, where she has worked as an academic adviser, director of Career Services, associate dean for Student Academic Affairs in the College of Letters & Science, and senior director of campus outreach at the Wisconsin Alumni Association. People who know anything about those titles know they require not just intelligence but great people skills. And Groves Lloyd has them. She genuinely cares about Wisconsinites and it is this caring that inspired her to mount a campaign that is focused on healing divisions.

“The Wisconsin I love is facing some serious problems, and I feel it’s my responsibility to step up and do something about it,” said Groves Lloyd, who has focused on investing in education, expanding access to health care, fixing roads, and giving communities the flexibility and the resources they need to grow and succeed.

“The Wisconsin I know treats people right. When our neighbors are down on their luck, we help them get back on their feet,” explained Groves Lloyd, who said: “Our state should be working to provide everyone health care — nobody should miss lifesaving treatment because of what’s in their checking account or a pre-existing condition. We also used to look out for future generations by protecting our environment and natural resources. Wisconsin is not just for us, it’s for our children and theirs as well.”

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That sort of thinking is not Democratic or Republican, liberal or conservative. It’s old-school Wisconsin thinking that has the potential to unite people. And if Groves Lloyd takes it to the Legislature, we are certain that she would quickly be pulling together working coalitions to save rural schools, keep farmers on the land, and empower towns, villages and counties.

There are powerful interests that fear those sorts of coalitions and they have poured money into slick advertising campaigns attacking Groves Lloyd. Their desperation is showing and the Republican candidate in this race, town of Lodi Supervisor Jon Plumer, should be distancing himself from the negative campaigning by outside groups. Unfortunately, Plumer has failed to distinguish himself as a leader on behalf of a better politics and better governance. Voters in the 42nd District have every reason to fear that he would, if elected, serve as little more than a rubber stamp for the career politicians who have created so much division in this state.

Ann Groves Lloyd is not going to bend to the special interests or the career politicians. She is ready to represent rural Wisconsin, to get people working together, and to get things done. This is what she had done all her life and we are confident she could do it in a state Capitol that would be well served by her election.

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