Eau Claire City Councilwoman Emily Berge announced Monday that she intends to run for state Assembly.

Berge, a Democrat from Eau Claire’s north side, will seek the 68th Assembly District seat held by freshman Rep. Jesse James, R-Altoona.

“I am running for state Assembly as a mental health professional, business owner, community advocate, local elected official and parent,” Berge said in a news release. “At my core, I am an independent thinker, solution focused and an authentic leader. You can count on me to bring these qualities when representing the people in the heart of Wisconsin.”

Berge’s last-minute announcement came on the deadline for candidates to file nomination papers with the Wisconsin Elections Commission for the fall elections.

People are tired of the fighting and gridlock in Madison, said Berge, 40, who was elected to the City Council in 2018.

“We need leaders who practice collaborative leadership; I know how to bring people together and get things done,” Berge said in the release. “Your needs should come before Madison politics. I will vote for you, for us, for our families, our livelihoods. We deserve a true representative, one who will not only sit down and listen but who will also stand up for you, for us.”

Berge told the Leader-Telegram she knows it will be an uphill battle challenging a GOP incumbent in a district drawn to favor Republicans, but said she looks forward to the opportunity to help create fair legislative districts in the next session based on decennial census numbers collected this year.

“I don’t think there should be safe seats for Democrats or Republicans because then it’s the people who lose,” Berge said. “Gerrymandering benefits just the people in power, and that’s not OK.”

James could not be reached Monday for comment.

As a licensed professional counselor who helps people with mental health issues, Berge said she would relish the chance to create preventive policies that would help people on the front end. Switching to delivering services by telehealth because of the COVID-19 pandemic — and seeing the impact on some of her rural clients — also made it apparent that improving broadband access is an important issue for Wisconsin, she said.