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Changes on tap as Wisconsin Democratic Senate leader announces new election bid

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(The Center Square) – There are a lot of moving pieces at the Wisconsin Capitol after the top Democrat in the State Senate said she’s going to run for a new office next year.

Senate Minority Leader Melissa Agard on Thursday announced plans to run for Dane County Executive.

“I was born and raised here in Dane County. I have dedicated my career to improving the lives of the people here,” Agard said in a statement. “I’m excited to announce my candidacy for Dane County Executive, and I hope that the voters will join me as I embark on this next chapter in my service to our community.”

Longtime Dane County Executive Joe Parisi in October announced his plans to retire in May of next year.

There will be an election to replace him.

“Our county has been fortunate to have great leaders like Joe Parisi and Kathleen Falk over the past two decades. Now I’m running to build on their progress and create a forward-thinking county government ready for the challenges and opportunities ahead. Dane County can be a national example of a community with authentic progressive values – where everyone is welcome and has access to the quality of life services they need to thrive,” Agard said.

Parisi has been county executive since 2011. Falk was county executive before that.

Agard is not alone in the Dane County race. Madison Alderwoman Regina Vidaver announced her campaign last month.

Agard’s decision is also forcing changes at the Capitol.

Sen. Kelda Roys, D-Madison, on Thursday announced she will run to replace Agard as minority leader.

“Over recent election cycles and throughout the statewide budget listening sessions, I have been heartened to hear how closely our Democratic priorities align with those of people in every corner of our great state,” Roys said in a note to Democrats asking for their support. “Wisconsinites want us to invest in affordable child care, workforce development, healthcare access and public education.”

Agard’s possible exit also has candidates eyeing her seat in the Senate.

Rep. Melissa Ratcliff, D-Cottage Grove, on Thursday announced plans to run for Agard’s senate seat.

“Sen. Agard has fought for our Democratic values during her entire career,” Ratcliff said. “I look forward to building on her legacy. In the Senate, just as I have done in the Assembly, I will work my hardest every day on behalf of the local communities and residents who count on me to represent them in the State Capitol.”

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