By Estella Lauter
Amanda Stuck’s appearance at a session organized by Indivisible at the Sister Bay Library in October puts her way ahead of ahead of the incumbent Republican (he who shall not be named), who has to my knowledge made only two or three stealth appearances in Door County (either unannounced or announced so late that only his inner circle could catch a glimpse of him). In this introductory meeting, Amanda spoke at length about her dedication to political resolution of the problems that beset us, her record of service in the Wisconsin Assembly and her platform as a candidate for the US Congress in the 8th District of Wisconsin. She then gave substantial answers to tough questions from the audience and stayed to talk with individuals. By contrast, in the three years he has been in office, I have never laid eyes on the incumbent, and his responses to my many letter and petitions could have been written by any party hack!
Here is what we learned. Amanda has lived her entire life in the Fox Valley. She comes from a working-class background, and despite her position in the WI Assembly, she continues to be a substitute teacher who also drives a school bus to make ends meet! She and her husband are raising four children in Appleton (I believe the oldest is 17). After her first year at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, she became a single mother. She not only finished college with a major in Political Science but went on for a Master’s Degree, working as a rural mail carrier and for the Appleton Housing Authority. Inspired by an early encounter with Bill Clinton while he was campaigning in WI, she became a part of Rep. Steve Kagen’s campaign staff and then served on his Congressional staff. When Penny Bernard Schaffer gave up her Assembly seat to run for the state Senate in 2014, she asked Amanda to run for office. Amanda stepped up to the plate and she has won three elections in the 57th Assembly District.
As an active legislator, Amanda asks to serve on the Energy and Utilities Committee (among other assignments) because of her concern for the environment. In this campaign, she plans to emphasize affordable health care for all; a healthy environment; a strong system of public education; and an economy where one job per adult is enough to support a decent life in a family. Her approach to some of the hot button issues that Republicans have used to derail Dems is to insist that we are all in this together. Most of the families in the 8th District, regardless of Party affiliation, have probably faced real problems in our health care system (say, the opioid or vaping crisis, the high cost of pre-existing conditions); in relation to education and a changing economy (overwork, under-employment, burgeoning student debt, job loss or jobs without benefits); and ironically, in this state with seemingly limitless supplies of water, contamination of those supplies by poor practices in both agricultural and corporate spheres. While she does not shy away from controversy (she spoke out publicly against the back 40 mine project and against AB 547 that opened WI wetlands to development), she has worked effectively with the other side and has a knack for bringing down the temperature of a discussion.