No Democrat has won the 1st Congressional District since 1993. Ann Roe says it’s time.
The Janesville educator, businesswoman and community promoter announced her candidacy Tuesday for the 1st Congressional District seat now held by Rep. Bryan Steil.
Roe steered away from labels when asked the kind of Democrat she might be.
“I am a problem solver,” she responded, adding that she gathers input from everyone with a stake in the game and works hard to make sure all voices are included.
“Everybody’s voices, whether I entirely agree with them or not, deserve to be heard and considered, and in order to move forward, we’re going to have to listen to all those voices on both sides of the aisle, to whatever extent they can be contributing productively to that conversation, to help the citizens of the 1st District,” she said.
Steil, a Republican and former corporate attorney from Janesville, has not announced a run for a third term. He bested Democrats in his first two races for this office.
Roe is president of Downtown Janesville Inc., a business promotion group, and runs a small business, Custom College Solutions, which helps high school students prepare for college.
Roe has lived in Janesville for 25 years. She has lectured in marketing and business communications at UW-Whitewater.
“We are going to win with a strong ground campaign that has already begun in research and exploration, and we will knock on every door and speak to everyone, especially those that are hungry for a better voice at the federal level,” she said.
Roe announced her candidacy before a crowd of about 40 supporters in front of her east-side house. In the group were her family, husband and pediatrician Jonathan Roe, daughter Catherine and son Charley.
Two former Janesville-area legislators, state Sen. Tim Cullen and Assembly Rep. Debra Kolste, introduced Roe and spoke of her in glowing terms.
“She will not be like (former president) Trump and (Assembly Speaker Robin) Vos, that came into politics to create power for themselves,” Kolste said.
“Ann is a person of principles who comes to politics for a truer purpose, one of good public policy and keeping the people in the forefront. …
“I know that she loathes the genuflection to Trump and to his big lie,” Kolste added.
Roe said she took over management of the Beloit Janesville Symphony Orchestra in 1996 and steered it out of financial difficulties.
She also mentioned her dogged pursuit of millions of dollars that accountants at a former employer, Northwest Airlines, had given up trying to find.
She emphasized her dedication, research and ability to listen to all involved in these endeavors.
She did not mention Steil by name but when asked why she is running, she said: “We’ve had a lack of action, a lack of substantive problem solving and work done at the federal level. The current representation does not include everybody at the table, and there appears to be no coming invitation to those people, those families, those workers, those businesses to be represented at the federal level.”
Roe avoided saying how much money she needs to raise.
“Enough to win,” she said.
Roe apparently has financial backing. Her announcement was coordinated by Fireside Campaigns of Washington, D.C., which describes itself as “a digital and communications consulting firm” with “progressive values that has worked on other congressional campaigns.
A news release from the Roe campaign touted her as a “small business owner and prolific fundraiser.”
Roe said she has filed the required financial information with the Federal Elections Commission. That information was not yet posted on the FEC website Tuesday.
The election is Nov. 8, 2022. If other Democrats enter the race, a primary would be held Aug. 9, 2022.
They don’t serve their coffee in venti and grande cups or try to sell you the latest album from a hipster folk artist. This coffee shop can’t be found on every corner—just the corner where it happens to be parked.
Arrielle Cordero, 30, and her younger sister Ashley Erdman, 26, opened Salted Sisters, a coffee shop based out of a small concession trailer, less than three months ago.
They first got the idea to run their own cafe when they were teenage baristas.
“We loved the work itself and thought it would be cool to own our own coffee shop,” Cordero said.
Her husband initially had the idea for making coffee in a mobile setting, something which has proven to be an advantage as opposed to working in a traditional coffeehouse. With less overhead and no added stress from maintaining a building, the two have found the movable venue to be ideal.
Getting their project rolling was a family affair, as the sisters’ father helped build on to the trailer and Cordero’s husband painted the exterior. Their mother also contributed by making merchandise and continues to help by taking orders at the coffee trailer on Saturdays.
After finishing the trailer and getting their equipment ready, the sisters held their grand opening May 1 at the farmers market in downtown Janesville. What they expected would be a low-key event wound up being an overwhelming day as the turnout at the market was “crazy,” as Erdman put it.
“It was nuts, (but) it gave us a good jump-start,” Arrielle said.
Since then, Salted Sisters has established two regular locations and can be booked for events. The coffee cart can be found in the parking lot of the former Perkins Restaurant & Bakery, 3315 Milton Ave. on Thursdays and Fridays. The cart can be reserved on Wednesdays, and the cart is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
The sisters will be stationed at the farmers market on Saturdays for the remainder of the season.
They sell coffee drinks, other beverages, breakfast items and baked goods from Fosdal Bakery in Stoughton. The coffee and tea they brew is from in-state vendors—Wonderstate coffee out of Madison and Rishi tea from Milwaukee.
The sisters’ signature salted caramel iced latte is currently a favorite, the owners said.
“We took a look at what was being provided in our area in the way of coffee and picked what was missing. Our goal was to create a really good cup of coffee that is consistently good but at reasonable pricing,” Cordero said.
Erdman said they aim to connect with everyone they serve. “We treat everybody like they’re our friends. We talk about their kids, their grandkids,” she said.
The pair said that while they don’t plan to open a traditional brick-and-mortar cafe, they would like to expand in the future.
“I think if we did grow, we’d grow mobile. More of a fleet,” Erdman said.
Moving forward, the sisters plan to operate downtown on Wednesdays while continuing to book events throughout the week and keep their spot at the former Perkins.
“We are pretty flexible at this point in time,” Erdman said, adding that they are in talks to do weddings, as well.
In September, Salted Sisters will make an appearance at the Dragons on the Rock boat races at Traxler Park. Those interested in booking a day for an event can visit salted sisterscoffeeco.com.
Janesville School District Superintendent Steven Pophal told the school board at its meeting Tuesday night he anticipates “the vast majority” of students and families will opt for in-person learning for the 2021-22 school year despite the existence of virtual options.
In the district’s elementary schools, schools will continue to have smaller class sizes similar to last school year, Pophal said. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently changed its social distancing recommendation from 6 feet to 3 feet for children, which will help the elementary schools navigate the year, he said.
“As we know, elementary kids are not able to be vaccinated right now,” Pophal said. “We don’t know when or if, frankly, that reality will happen. As a result, we’re using similar class size ratios in our elementary schools this year as we did last year.”
Middle and high school students older than 12 are able to get vaccinated if their families so choose.
“We recognize that some parents will choose that and others won’t,” Pophal said. “We’re respectful of whatever that choice might be.”
ARISE Virtual Academy, the district-run online charter school, will continue to be an option for all students, as well. ARISE students in kindergarten through eighth grade will phase in district curriculum in math and language arts to add more focus on direct instruction. A hybrid of ARISE and traditional classroom instruction is still an option for grades six through 12.
“Last year we learned that kids need to come to school because there are certain things that work better, particularly with our younger kids and having a more direct teacher-to-student learning,” Pophal said. “We call that synchronous learning. Some kids and family situations, it (online instruction) works OK but for others it’s a pretty heavy lift and particularly a heavy lift for a younger child.”
Some safety protocols for the upcoming school year will carry over from last year. The district will continue to monitor recommendations and requirements from the Rock County Public Health Department, the state Department of Health Services and the CDC.
Other safety protocols have changed, including the approach to quarantining.
“If you have been vaccinated, you’re exempted from being quarantined as long as you’re symptom-free,” Pophal said. “If you have not been vaccinated, the requirement is essential. That’s the requirement at the moment.”
Masks are now optional in the schools but must always be worn on buses to adhere to a federal mandate.
Extracurricular activities, such as athletics, clubs and field trips, will return in the fall, Pophal said.
Registration for the fall school year has already begun and applications are due Aug. 9. People with questions should call the Infinite Campus Registration Help Desk at 608-743-5047. The desk is open 8 a.m. through 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.