By State Representative, Leon D. Young
It’s been a difficult week to say the least. Last week’s election results were disheartening for Democrats not only in Wisconsin, but for the Democratic Party in general.
In contest after contest, the GOP electorate turned out in gale force and put their signature imprint on the election outcome.
In Wisconsin, like in so many other places around the nation, the GOP actually strengthened its grip on the reins of power.
Republicans in both the Senate and Assembly increased membership of their respective caucuses. And, as we all know, Scott Walker easily defeated Mary Burke in the governor’s race, which now opens the door for him to pursue a presidential bid in 2016. Just when I thought that things had hit the abject low, following the devastating elections, I was stunned by the news of State Representative Annette “Polly” Williams’ sudden passing.
She was affectionately known in many circles simply as Polly. Truth be told, Rep. Williams will be remembered for a myriad of accomplishments during her lifetime — and rightfully so.
Naturally, she is known as the mother of School Choice and for being the longest-serving woman in the Legislature.
However, in my view, one of Rep. Williams’ most endearing qualities was her unbridled compassion and commitment to the issues she believed in. To put it another way, Polly was not afraid to rock the boat — irrespective of possible opposition.
Rep. Williams and I served in the State Assembly together for 17 years.
And, I considered her to be both a mentor and a trusted colleague, who was always willing to impart some sage advice for the asking.
In 2010, Polly opted to retire from the Legislature, after 30 years of public service.
I remember vividly a conservation that we shared about her decision to leave office, in which I lamented that her presence would be sorely missed.
In typical Polly-esque fashion, she set the record straight.
“I may be retiring from the Legislature, but I have every intention of continuing my involvement in the community,” she asserted.
True to her word, Rep. Williams never really retired.
She continued her personal mission with her church, her outreach with social organizations and her contact with the community at-large — as illustrated by her frequent radio appearances.
Rep. Williams was a spirited statesperson and a tenacious community advocate, who fought the courageous fight and deserves to be remembered for her deeds.
Now in hindsight, I’m extremely proud to say that I served in the Legislature with her.