Eighteen new members were officially inaugurated into the Wisconsin Legislature on Jan. 7, 2019. Sen. Jeff Smith (D-Eau Claire) was elected to replace retiring Sen. Kathleen Vinehout. Also joining the Senate, formerly from the Assembly, are Sens. Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield), Kathy Bernier (R-Lake Hallie), and Andre Jacque (R-DePere). 14 new members were inaugurated in the Assembly.
Over the next several weeks, HCG will highlight each new member of the legislature. This week, meet Sen. Smith and Reps. Marisabel Cabrera (D-Milwaukee) and Barbara Dittrich (R-Oconomowoc).
Sen. Jeff Smith (D-Eau Claire)
Sen. Jeff Smith, representing District 31, was born and raised in Eau Claire where he owned and operated his family’s business, Bob Smith Window Cleaning. Smith spent six years as town chair of Brunswick and served on Gov. Jim Doyle’s Task Force on Educational Excellence in 2003. In 2006, Smith was elected to the Assembly and served two terms representing District 93 (now held by Rep. Warren Petryk (R-Eleva)). After leaving the Assembly, Smith was the Wisconsin Democratic Party’s political director for northern Wisconsin. Currently, Smith is the chair of the Parent Advisory Council, a member of the Eau Claire Area Chamber of Commerce, Eau Claire Family Resource Center, Kiwanis Club of Eau Claire, Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools, and Wisconsin Conservation Voters.
Rep. Marisabel Cabrera (D-Milwaukee)
Rep. Marisabel Cabrera, representing District 9, was born and raised on the south side of Milwaukee. After earning a bachelor’s degree from UW-Madison, she went to law school at Michigan State University and currently practices as an immigration attorney. She is the former chair of the Latino Caucus of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and on the executive committee of the Democratic Party of Milwaukee County (DPMC) where she was awarded the DPMC Rising Star Award in 2016. Cabrera is also a member of Voces de la Frontera, vice-chair of the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission, board member of Centro Hispano Milwaukee.
Rep. Barbara Dittrich (R-Oconomowoc)
Rep. Barbara Dittrich, representing District 38, is a lifelong resident of southern Wisconsin. She graduated from UW-Milwaukee and worked in the investment industry for 13 years. Then, Dittrich founded a nonprofit serving parents of children with disabilities and has served as its executive director for 15 years. Dittrich has earned the 2009 Hope Award for Effective Compassion in conjunction with World Magazine and the American Bible Society and the 2015 Right Wisconsin Women Innovator Award.