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Thu Dec 27, 2012, 08:18 AM

From protesting to legislating: Two who marched at WI Capitol set to take office [View all]

DEE J. HALL | Wisconsin State Journal | dhall@madison.com | 608-252-6132

In 2011, Melissa Sargent was among the most diehard demonstrators at the Capitol. For 50 days straight, Sargent, often accompanied by some or all of her four children, protested the policies of Gov. Scott Walker and the new Republican majority in the Legislature, whose moves to gut collective bargaining for public employees sparked mass demonstrations.

When officials locked the Capitol, Sargent said she and the kids, including the baby, Trystan, marched outside in the cold. And when the Capitol police ordered her three older boys Devin, Bailey and Keanan to take down their protest sign declaring "Solidarity," they refused, earning a ticket that was later dismissed.

Come January, the 43-year-old small-business owner will occupy the Capitol in a radically different way. Sargent is the newly elected representative to Madison's 48th Assembly District, whose redrawn boundaries include the city's East and North sides.

She will be joined by another protester-turned-lawmaker, Katrina Shankland, 25, who will represent the 71st Assembly District including Stevens Point and Plover. Shankland also credits the protests that rocked the Capitol with catapulting her into politics. She left her job with a renewable energy company to work "90-plus hours a week" as an organizer for the Democratic Party collecting recall signatures against Walker. Shankland testified in the middle of the night at the Assembly Democrats' 61-hour marathon hearing to oppose Walker's efforts to strip bargaining rights from most government employees. "I actually became a protester right out of the gate," Shankland said. "I was there every weekend. (And) when Act 10 came down (on March 9, 2011), I was in the Capitol."

Read more: http://host.madison.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/from-protesting-to-legislating-two-who-marched-at-capitol-set/article_57b7883e-4fbf-11e2-a063-0019bb2963f4.html#ixzz2GFnPy0GM

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