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STATE ASSEMBLY | DANE COUNTY

Dane County representative becomes seventh Assembly Democrat to retire

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State Rep. Gary Hebl, D-Sun Prairie, who has represented parts of Dane County for almost 20 years, announced Wednesday that he will not seek another term in the Assembly.

With his retirement, Hebl, 70, becomes the seventh Assembly Democrat to announce they won’t be running for reelection. Thirteen Assembly Republicans have also announced they won’t be running for another term. In total, more than 20% of Assembly members are not running again — either because they’re retiring or opting for a different role.

A quick freeze and lack of snow created ideal conditions for ice skating on Lake Monona in January 2022.

“I’m sad to leave the State Capitol,” Hebl said in a statement. “I will forever cherish the memories I have made as a member of the Wisconsin State Legislature. I have formed innumerable relationships which have made me a better legislator, friend, listener and person.”

Hebl is the second Dane County lawmaker to announce his Assembly retirement this session. Rep. Dianne Hesselbein, D-Middleton, is running for the 27th district Senate seat left vacant by longtime Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-West Point, who announced his retirement in December.

“I will always be thankful for the opportunity I had to work with Gary on issues important to WI, especially on the environment,” Assembly Minority Leader Greta Neubauer, D-Racine, said on Twitter.

Hebl said he will focus on his personal life and spending time with his wife, family and grandchildren.

“More often than not, I was in the trenches protecting things like public education, protecting the environment, protecting health care affordability and accessibility to those assets that we have,” Hebl said in an interview.

“I take a lot of satisfaction in knowing that I can work with the other side,” he continued, lamenting that the two parties have become more polarized over time.

Hebl’s retirement leaves open a solidly Democratic district that spans from Sun Prairie to Stoughton.

Dane County Sup. and Cottage Grove Village Board trustee Melissa Ratcliff announced on Wednesday her intention to run for the seat held by Hebl, who beat Republican candidate Terry Lyon by a 2-to-1 margin in 2020.

“As State Representative, I will continue my fight for smart business growth, strengthening our K-12 and higher education systems, and ensuring paid family leave for family caregivers,” Ratcliff said in a statement.

In the Senate, six lawmakers announced they will not run again — three Democrats and three Republicans. If the state Supreme Court sticks with Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ maps, Sen. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield, announced he would become the seventh senator to retire.

Top 10 Wisconsin political stories of 2021 (based on what you, the readers, read)

2021 was another big year in Wisconsin politics. Sen. Ron Johnson said some things. Voters elected a new state superintendent. Gov. Tony Evers and Republicans clashed over mask mandates. Michael Gableman threatened to jail the mayors of Madison and Green Bay. Here are 10 political stories you, the readers, checked out in droves.

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Since the start of the outbreak, Gov. Tony Evers has issued multiple public health emergencies and a series of related orders. 

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Sen. Ron slammed the impeachment over the weekend as “vindictive and divisive,” and possibly a “diversionary operation” by Democrats to distract from security lapses at the U.S. Capitol.

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"I wouldn’t run if I don’t think I could win," said Johnson, who is undecided on a re-election bid. 

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The board had previously not required masks in schools after some in the public voiced opposition.

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With a new order announced, Republicans may be forced to start the process all over again to vote down the governor's emergency order and accompanying mask mandate, but the most likely outcome appears to be an eventual court decision.

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Fort McCoy officials acknowledge there were initial problems with food supply, but that and other issues are being addressed.

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The idea is in its infancy and all options, including declining to pursue anything, are on the table.

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Gableman has asked the court, which plans to take up the matter on Dec. 22, to compel the two mayors to meet with him.

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Deborah Kerr said she has also voted for Republicans and tells GOP audiences on the campaign trail for the officially nonpartisan race that she is a "pragmatic Democrat."

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Limbaugh died Wednesday at 70.

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