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Kristina Shelton represents the change we need in the 90th District PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jarret Brown, Green Bay   
Wednesday, 10 June 2020 10:39

kristina-sheltonBrown County Dem supports Shelton over Gruszynski in northeastern Wisconsin Assembly race.

GREEN BAY, WI - This summer, voters in Green Bay’s 90th District, currently represented by first-term incumbent Staush Gruszynski, should support challenger Kristina Shelton. Shelton is vice-president of the Green Bay School Board. She has proven herself to be an excellent campaigner, but more importantly, she is a leader that brings people together and solves problems by listening, collaborating, taking decisive action, and being accountable. Shelton is a progressive leader who will help increase turnout by reaching out to people who have never been reached out to before and empowering them to become part of the solution to the problems facing all of us.

Over the last 20 years, Shelton has proven to be a leader who improves the organizations that she is a part of. She’s the leader we need right now because she represents the change we need. And electing her in this August’s primary is even more important because of the consequences of our current representative’s recent behavior.

staush-gruszynskiIn October 2019, freshman Assembly Representative Staush Gruszynski sexually harassed a state employee while having after-hours drinks with a group of people in Madison.

In December, the state legislature’s HR department found the victim’s account of the incident to be credible. Gruszynski didn’t deny the victim’s statements. The freshman legislator admitted to making ‘’a terrible mistake’’ and claimed to be in counseling and practicing sobriety.

Leaders of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, the Assembly Democrats, and the Young Democrats of Wisconsin called on Gruszynski to resign. Minority Leader Gordon Hintz banned him from caucusing with Democrats and asked Speaker Robin Vos to withdraw Gruszynski’s committee assignments, which the speaker did.

Gruszynski stubbornly refused to resign and stated that he would ‘’continue to work hard’’ to represent Green Bay in Madison in the Assembly.

Ever the politician, Gruszynski looked forward to his next election instead of reflecting on how his actions affected a worker. He started strategizing about how to repair his image and build up his endorsements almost immediately. As far as I know, Gruszynski hasn’t spoken publicly about what happened on that night and he hasn’t appeared on camera to take questions from reporters or the public.

Remarkably, Gruszynski has had some success at garnering endorsements from old friends and political allies. His old friends and allies have a right to support anyone they want, but loyalty in light of what happened that night sends the wrong message. They are standing by their man in spite of how his actions affected a worker.

I want to be clear that Gruszynski has never done anything to me personally. I voted for him in 2018 and supported him as a small-dollar donor at two of his fundraisers. I genuinely supported him and wanted him to succeed as a representative of Green Bay.

However, Gruszynski’s actions on that October night disappointed me when I read the newspaper reports some time later. Gruszynski was entrusted with a position of power, but he made a big mistake that affected another person and he squandered an opportunity to fully represent the interests of Green Bay citizens as our representative in Madison.

Despite support from his loyalists, Gruszynski has the political strength and momentum of a wounded turtle. He’s been on the outside looking in on the political activity in Madison and he hasn’t been allowed to participate in committee meetings because he lost his assignments due to his actions. We don’t know when or if Gruszynski will be welcomed back to caucus with Democrats or be returned to his committee assignments even if he is re-elected.

Political observers and voters in Green Bay have been discussing whether or not Gruszynski deserves to keep his job as our representative. In America, and indeed here in Green Bay, we believe in second chances because of our deep religious roots and our understanding that no one is perfect. However, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t consequences and repercussions for actions or that a person is entitled to be forgiven and keep his or her job regardless of what they do. Gruszynski deserves a second chance in life and the opportunity to redeem himself, but I don’t think he deserves to keep his job as our representative.

Morally, I think it is clear that Gruszynski’s actions should keep us from nominating him in the Democratic primary on August 11 and re-electing him on November 3.

Politically, nominating Gruszynski would weaken Democrats in November. As most everyone knows, it is crucial for Democrats in Green Bay to do well in November because of how the local turnout and results could determine the outcome of the presidential election.

We as Democrats pride ourselves in being in favor of workers’ rights and women’s rights, as well as being deeply committed to doing what is right. In my opinion, we as members of the local party will lose credibility if we nominate and support someone who recently admitted to sexually harassing a worker. How can we question the character of Republicans who abuse their power and at the same time support a Democrat who did the same thing?

If, like me, you want our party to stand for accountability and workers’ rights, please join me in supporting Kristina Shelton to be the next representative for Green Bay and the 90th District in the Assembly.

- Jarrett Brown, Green Bay


Jarrett Brown is a factory worker, activist, and voter who lives in the 90th Assembly District in Green Bay. He is an active member of the Democratic Party of Brown County.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 June 2020 10:55
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