New Faces in the Wisconsin Legislature

A number of new members are joining the Wisconsin Legislature this session. In the Assembly, the number of new members is so large (25) that a majority of the members are in their first or second terms. This is only the second time this has occurred since 1973.



Paul Farrow (R-Pewaukee) joined the legislature in December 2012 after winning a special election to serve out the remainder of the term of former Sen. Rich Zipperer, who resigned from the Senate to join Gov. Walker’s staff. Farrow comes to the Senate from the Assembly, where he has served since 2010. Farrow is a licensed home inspector and owns House to Home Inspections. He is the son of former-Lieutenant Governor and state Senator Margaret Farrow.

Rick Gudex (R-Fond du Lac) is a production manager in the Aluminum Division at Brenner Tank LLC, the former Mayor of Mayville, and a member of the Fond du Lac City Council.
Nikiya Harris (D-Milwaukee) comes to the Senate after serving on the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors. Nikiya graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a Master’s in Adult Education and a Bachelor’s in Community Education.

Tom Tiffany (R-Little Rice) comes to the Senate after serving one term in the state Assembly, where he served as the vice chair of the Assembly Committee on Forestry and sponsored the mining bill. Tiffany won the seat vacated by retiring Sen. Jim Holperin. Tiffany has owned and operated Wisconsin River Cruises, currently based in Rhinelander, since 1991. He also serves as Town Supervisor in the Town of Little Rice.
Mandela Barnes (D-Milwaukee) returned to his hometown of Milwaukee after attending Alabama A&M University. He has worked in the office of the Mayor, and recently served as the director of an interfaith community organization.
Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam) works for the Dodge County Sheriff’s Department in the Corrections Division Administration. He previously served on the Beaver Dam Common Council.
Mary Czaja (R-Tomahawk) is an independent insurance agent who owns the C.I.S. Insurance Group, with offices in Tomahawk and Rhinelander.
Eric Genrich (D-Green Bay) is an Information Technology Librarian at the Brown County Library. He is a former aide to Sen. Dave Hansen and a former field representative for Congressman Steve Kagen.
Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee) is an Assistant State Public Defender in Milwaukee and an adjunct professor in the Milwaukee Street Law program at Marquette Law School. He is the son of former State Sen. Gary Goyke.
Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton) is a member of the Dane County Board of Supervisors, where she chaired the board’s budget committee, and former member of the Middleton-Cross Plains School Board.
Rob Hutton (R-Brookfield) is the owner, president, and CEO of Rock Transfer & Storage, Inc., a private logistics company. He is a former Waukesha County Board Supervisor.
John Jagler (R-Watertown), a former newscaster for WTMJ AM 620 in Milwaukee recently served as communications director for Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald.
LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee) is the owner of an In-Home Licensed childcare center, Executive Board member for AFSCME District Council 48, President of AFSCME Local 502 Milwaukee Child Care Providers Together and Chair of AFSCME’s Women Committee.
Robb Kahl (D-Monona) is the owner Generations Title in Monona. He is the former Mayor of Monona and continues to serve as Chair of Monona’s Community Development Authority.
Debra Kolste (D-Janesville) is a medical technologist with Mercy Health Systems, who has also owned and managed a family farm since 1984. She is a former member of the Janesville School Board.
Dave Murphy (R-Greenville) is the owner of DJM Health LLC, a fitness center.
Tod Ohnstad (D-Kenosha) became active in his union at American Motors shortly after moving to Kenosha in 1974, and was elected to serve as a Steward in 1977. In 1984, he was elected to the Executive Board and Bargaining Committee and was continuously re-elected until his retirement from Chrysler in 2004. He is currently serving his third term as a member of the Kenosha City Council.
Daniel Riemer (D-Milwaukee) is a law student at the University of Wisconsin Law School. He is the son of Gov. Jim Doyle’s former budget director David Riemer.
Joe Sanfelippo (R-West Allis) is the owner of a successful landscaping business, and has served on the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors.
Melissa Agard Sargent (D-Madison), a Madison native, is a small business owner. Sargent’s husband, Justin, is chief of staff to Sen. Minority Leader Chris Larson.
Michael Schraa (R-Oshkosh), a former stock broker, is the owner of Leon’s Frozen Custard in Oshkosh. He has also started and sold a number of other businesses and currently operates an online retail automotive business on Ebay.
Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point), a former field organizer for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, has experience working at an energy not-for-profit.
Stephen Smith (D-Shell Lake) owns the Rainbow Home Center, a hardware store in Rice Lake. Stephen has served on the County Board, the Airport Commission, the Shell Lake Zoning Board of Appeals, and the Wisconsin School Bus Association. He is the son of former Rep. Pat Smith (D-Shell Lake).
John Spiros (R-Marshfield) is the Vice President of Safety and Claims Management for Roehl Transport, in Marshfield. He is a veteran of the United States Air Force and has also served as a police officer and a member of the Marshfield City Council.
Rob Swearingen (R-Rhinelander) and his wife have owned and operated the Al-Gen Dinner Club in Rhinelander since 1993. He has served as president of the Tavern League of Wisconsin.
Paul Tittl (R-Manitowoc) is the owner of the Vacuum & Sewing Center in Manitowoc. He is the Chair of the Manitowoc County Board and a former member of the Manitowoc City Council.
Dana Wachs (D-Eau Claire) is a trial attorney the law firm of Richie Wickstrom & Wachs who has served on the Eau Claire City Council.
Tom Weatherston (R-Racine) is a retired industrial engineer who worked for Modine Manufacturing Company. He is also an adjunct instructor at Gateway Technical College where he has been teaching Motorcycle Safety for the last 12 years.
Tom served in the Air Force in Vietnam and has been as a Village of Caledonia Trustee and Caledonia Utility District Commissioner.
Mandy Wright (D-Wausau) worked for four years as an English/ELL Teacher at Wausau West. After her third child was born, she took a year to be a stay-at-home mom and taught evening classes for Upper Iowa University. She is now teaching sixth grade and coaching soccer at Horace Mann Middle School in Wausau.


The Legislative Reference Bureau has short biographies of all of the new and returning members of the legislature, Wisconsin’s Congressional delegation, the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and Wisconsin’s state-wide elected officials.

Miss Pronouncer has a pronunciation guide with all of the new and returning legislators’ names.