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Stafsholt wins 29th Assembly District race

Rob Stafsholt (center, back) celebrates the results showing his election to the 29th Assembly District seat. (Cindy Olson photo)

Rob Stafsholt will be the new representative in the 29th Assembly District after winning more than 66 percent of the St. Croix County vote in the Tuesday, Nov. 8, General Election.

Stafsholt, a Republican, won with a total of 11,285 St. Croix votes to Ard’s tally of 5,654.

District 29 is comprised of portions of both St. Croix and Dunn counties, with the biggest cities being New Richmond in St. Croix and Menomonie in Dunn.

Though all the ballots from the City of Menomonie hadn’t been posted as of press time, Stafsholt held a 4,770-4,274 count in Dunn County. There were two wards still out, but it appeared that it was Stafsholt’s supporters who carried the day.

“I didn’t think I would win by that big of a margin [in St. Croix County]. I’m humbled by that fact .... the people who have helped me is a humbling experience. It’s hard for a farm guy like me to express that. I have a lot of gratitude to the people who helped me get to where I am tonight,” he said.

As for his plans in Madison, Stafsholt said, “As the new guy there is going to be a learning curve in learning how things work in that building. My message through the campaign is that I will work hard for our area to get better paying jobs for our citizens, better educational choices for our children, watch out for our taxpayers ... protect the vulnerable people. That’s my overall focus. I’ll go down with an open mind to work with Democrats and Republicans to try to get the best thing I can for us here in District 29.”

Ard, a Democrat, said, “put your seatbelt on because I’m going to be down lobbying in Madison and I’m going to put [Stafsholt] to work. My work doesn’t end because the election is over. I don’t sit back for two years and do nothing. I’ll stay active and I’ll stay involved. Defending the people in Western Wisconsin and Dunn County is part of my mission. That will continue. I’ll keep lobbying, I’ll keep writing letters and emails, getting people involved. The only way things get changed in Madison is to get people involved.”

Ard and Stafsholt, both New Richmond residents, ran what could be considered one of the cleanest races in recent memory. Though both acknowledged their political differences, they also resolved together early in the campaign to focus on the issues and not the opponent.

There were a couple of instances where so-called “dark money” made it into the campaign in the form of political advertising mailed across the district that made claims Ard had run-ins with the law. Those claims never held water and Stafsholt even regretted during a candidate forum in New Richmond last month that the organizations that put the mailings together did so without his knowledge or endorsement.

With high voter turnout across St. Croix County, the state of Wisconsin and the entire nation, the perceived display of voter apathy and cynicism about the system and some of the candidates promoted by the major political parties, didn’t show on Nov. 8. At least it appeared on the surface Tuesday that Americans love their elections and the pride they have in being participants.

Even before Tuesday’s election of local, state and national candidates, voters cast an unprecedented number of early votes. In fact, across Wisconsin the early voting turnout was nearly 800,000 ballots cast prior to the election.

But today was all about the electors who came out to vote.

The state estimated that with the hundreds of thousands of early ballots cast that another 3.1 million would get to the polls Tuesday.

It seemed early in the day that the turnout was going to be strong and steady.

In New Richmond, poll workers opened the door and began welcoming a long line of voters that stretched down the street.

According to city officials, the voting day went as expected. Not only were people anxious to cast their vote for U.S. President, but there was an enhanced reason for New Richmond area residents to cast their ballot — the two New Richmond candidates vying for the 29th Assembly seat previously held by John Murtha of Baldwin.

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