Wisconsin leaders reflect on what makes them feel grateful

By: - November 25, 2021 6:13 am
Thanksgiving table

Thanksgiving table quinn/flickr, CC BY-NC

We asked notable people around the state, “What are you thankful for this holiday?” Here are the replies we received:

Gov. Tony Evers | Evers’ Facebook

Gov. Tony Evers: After the immense hardships Wisconsinites have endured—including the tragedy in the city of Waukesha on Sunday—Kathy and I believe it’s more important than ever to share what we’re thankful for and to express our gratitude. Here are some of the many things we’re grateful for this Thanksgiving: 

  1.       Our wonderful family and friends.  
  2.       The kindness, grit, and resilience of Wisconsinites throughout a multitude of challenges.  
  3.       The continued leadership, courage, and wisdom of local and state leaders during the worst public health crisis in a century.  
  4.       The tremendous service and sacrifices of first responders, members of the Wisconsin National Guard, and healthcare workers who help keep Wisconsinites and our communities healthy and safe.  
  5.       The dedication and tenacity of educators, staff, and administrators who’ve supported our kids under the worst circumstances and guide our kids to be the best they can be every day. 

To all those gathering today and into this weekend, we wish you a joyful and safe holiday. Happy Thanksgiving, Wisconsin!

Mayor Dave Hemmer | Official photo, City of Prairie du Chien
Mayor Dave Hemmer | Official photo, City of Prairie du Chien

Mayor Dave Hemmer, City of Prairie du Chien: I am thankful for the great caring people we have that live here in the city. Every day here I see how caring people look after their neighbors and friends when they have a need and don’t ask for anything in return. I am also thankful for our employees that go above and beyond not because they are told to but because they want to! They see a problem and take care of it.

Romy Snyder, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Dells Visitor and Convention Bureau: The Wisconsin Dells area is thankful for all the visitors and groups who continue to choose us to gather, meet and make memories with their loved ones and colleagues. These past 18 months have reminded us all that nothing beats traveling and getting together in person with those we care about.

Mayor Deb Lewis | Photo courtesy City of Ashland
Mayor Deb Lewis | Photo courtesy City of Ashland

Mayor Debra Lewis, City of Ashland: After all of the personal and societal struggles of the past year, I am feeling most grateful for the gift of community and the renewed awareness of just how much we need each other. The people I am fortunate to have in my life and in my community are a precious gift and make all the difference in whether I experience light or darkness in these turbulent times.

Larry Meiller | Photo: Wisconsin Public Radio
Larry Meiller | Photo: Wisconsin Public Radio

Larry Meiller, Wisconsin Public Radio host: I’m thankful family, colleagues and friends have escaped COVID, and also very thankful for my radio listeners, who brighten my day every day! I’m very thankful for my job.

Tammy Baldwin in front of a flag and microphone
Sen. Tammy Baldwin, photo by Wisconsin National Guard Nov. 2016 by Vaughn R. Larson

Sen. Tammy Baldwin: I am thankful for the opportunity to serve the people of Wisconsin and work in the Senate to make a difference in their lives. This year, I am taking time to reflect on the generosity, fellowship and compassion that I have witnessed travelling across our state, as we all continue working together to advance our common good and move Wisconsin forward.

Anne Katz, executive director of Arts Wisconsin: I’m thankful for my family, friends, and community, first and foremost. I’m thankful for the amazing creativity, individually and statewide, that has gotten all of us through the pandemic so far and will now turn towards building a vibrant, equitable, new normal. And I’m thankful for science and for medical workers, with their expertise and knowledge moving us beyond the pandemic.

Miss Wisconsin, Jennifer Schmidt: This year I’m thankful for every community in the state that has welcomed me with open arms and warm hearts in my role as Miss Wisconsin. Miss Wisconsin is my full-time job as I travel the state attending various events and speaking engagements. I’m from the southeast side of the state, so getting to travel to parts of the state I have never been (and some I had never heard of!) before is a blessing. I’m thankful I get to experience all Wisconsin and all its people have to offer!

Michael Compton, assistant provost for academic affairs, University of Wisconsin-Platteville: I am thankful for many things. I am thankful that I and members of my family are healthy and have access to healthcare with knowledgeable doctors that use science to help us stay healthy. I am grateful to be surrounded by faculty and staff that are dedicated to support our students and guide them in the learning process as they become contributors to society. I am thankful that I live in a county that values freedom for its citizens to live as they see fit within the boundaries of the law. I am grateful that I can practice a religion of my choice or to not be religious if that is my preference. I am thankful that we have a free press that informs us of current events from a variety of perspectives without interference from government.

Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway | City of Madison
Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway | City of Madison

Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, City of Madison: I’m thankful that we live in such a caring community, where people give their time, talent and treasure to support people in need, and to make our community and our world a better place. I’m thankful for the hardworking city staff who deliver critical public services day in and day out. And I’m thankful for all the great partnerships we have at the federal, state and local level. Their support during the pandemic has made a real impact here in Madison.

Mayor Tom Barrett, City of Milwaukee: I am thankful for the countless people who are making our communities stronger, healthier, more prosperous, and safer. This holiday season is a perfect time to reflect on all the good works underway and to recommit ourselves to supporting our neighbors – particularly those in need.

Mayor Chris Frederickson, City of Rhinelander: The opportunity to have dialogue with the people I represent. To empower them to realize the value of their voice. We are Hodag strong.

Jessie Garcia, veteran Packers sportscaster, author, news director at WDJT-TV, Milwaukee: Given the events in Waukesha Sunday, many of us are taking an extra look at what we might be thankful for. For me, that’s my two sons, my husband, my parents still being alive and healthy, the three animals in our house, and a new job opportunity I have in 2022 to lead a team of talented journalists in a city I know and love.

Mayor Mitch Reynolds | City of LaCrosse
Mayor Mitch Reynolds | City of LaCrosse

Mayor Mitch Reynolds, City of La Crosse: It is interesting how every day changes the lens through which I consider the things for which I am grateful. I am writing this after the horrific events that unfolded in the city of Waukesha on Sunday night. So, today, I am thankful for every moment I have to make a difference in my community and grateful for those who rush towards tragedy to help as countless first responders did on Sunday night. The events in Waukesha should remind all of us of how fragile we are and how fleeting is our time to help others who are in need. It is also a stark reminder for me to cherish family and friends and to be thankful for any time we can spend together.


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Jay Rath
Jay Rath

Besides The Wisconsin Examiner, writer-cartoonist Jay Rath has contributed to Animato!, Cartoonist PROfiles and Nemo: The Classic Comics Library magazines. An early and longtime contributor to The Onion, for more than 20 years he taught cartooning and animation to young people through the University of Wisconsin School of Education-Extension.