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.


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