CHIPPEWA FALLS — The race is on in the 67th Assembly District where incumbent Rob Summerfield, R-Bloomer, and Democrat Wren Keturi of Chippewa Falls announced their candidacies this week.
Summerfield was elected in 2016, defeating Democrat Dennis Hunt. The two sought the seat left open when Tom Larson, R-Dunn County town of Colfax, did not seek re-election.
“It has been an honor and privilege to serve residents of the 67th Assembly District for the last two years,” Summerfield said in a statement. “Since day one, it has been my top priority to fight for the values of the Chippewa Valley region. I’ve listened to and delivered results for my constituents who value strong schools, affordable health care and investment in our communities.”
Keturi, 29, said the Chippewa Valley isn’t seeing the same economic growth as the rest of the nation.
“It’s not just jobs, but good-paying jobs, that allow people to pay off college loans and their debts,” Keturi said. “We are at a time of tremendous economic growth in the country. We haven’t seen that growth reach this part of the state. For too long, we’ve been ignored.”
If elected, Keturi said she would focus on making health care more affordable, helping small family farms, protecting water quality and expanding broadband to rural areas.
Keturi is director of communications for the American Federation of Teachers-Wisconsin. She grew up in Chillicothe, Ill., then attended UW-Madison, earning a degree in gender and women’s studies, with an emphasis on biological anthropology. After graduating in 2008, she went to Nigeria and Kenya to volunteer in a health clinic.
“It was a great opportunity for me,” she said. “I learned to work with a lot of different people.”
After accepting the job with AFT-Wisconsin, Keturi and her fiance moved to Chippewa Falls in March 2017, where they live on the city’s East Hill.
She has been mulling a run for the Legislature for awhile.
“I’ve always had the desire to run for office,” she said. “The big drive for me is I live in a place where there isn’t a lot of opportunities for young people. I don’t see those resources in this part of the state that allow people to succeed.”
Over the past 13 years, Rep. Summerfield has helped operate and manage Two Acres Supper Club and Chippewa Valley Land Title.
Summerfield, 38, is a 1998 Bloomer High School graduate, and he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration at UW-Stout in 2002. He lives in Bloomer with his wife, Kim, and three daughters.
Summerfield said he’s proud of his accomplishments in his first term in office.
“This session I fought for a record $636 million funding increase for K-12 education, passed legislation to help reduce health insurance premiums, kept property taxes low and worked across the aisle to get the job done,” he said.
The 67th Assembly District covers predominantly the western half of Chippewa County and the eastern part of Dunn County. No Democrat has held the 67th Assembly seat in more than 20 years, when Michael O. Wilder lost in the November 1996 election to Republican Tom Sykora.