Rozar brings experience in county government, nursing to 69th Assembly race
After 20 years on the Wood County Board of Supervisors, Donna Rozar says she has the experience and connections to make the leap to state government.
“Experience is everything,” she said, when asked why she would be the best choice for voters in the Aug. 11 Republican primary for the 69th Assembly seat being vacated by Rep. Bob Kulp.
Rozar, a registered nurse living in Marshfield, said she decided to get her name on the ballot after someone urged her to run for the seat. She previously ran for State Senate in 2003, and won the Republican primary for the 24th District, but lost to the Democrat in the general.
As a member of her county’s legislative branch, Rozar said she knows what it’s like to make policy and has a good understanding of how state government impacts local communities.
“Elected county officials know what the impacts are of the allocations from the state to municipalities,” she said. “So, county board is a wonderful training ground for state assembly.”
Rozar said the person who asked her to run for state office had the same assessment, referring to the assembly as “county board on steroids.” Though she feels like she’s found her “niche” in county government, she said she’s also developed working relationships with people in Madison, including department heads and cabinet secretaries. She also knows a lot of Republican lawmakers.
“I have a broad-based understanding of the issues that are discussed in Madison,” she said.
Rozar has filled various leadership positions in her role as county board member, including serving as chair of the Health and Human Services Committee for more than 10 years, as well as several ad-hoc committees. She is also president of the North Central Community Action Program, which offers support services for low-income families in Lincoln, Marathon, and Wood counties.
Rozar first moved to Marshfield in 1988 with her husband, Ed, a cardiac surgeon who took a job with the Marshfield Clinic. He later died from complications of AIDS after being exposed to the HIV virus while doing his job. She has five adopted children and five grandchildren.
Rozar noted that she has been endorsed by Pro-Life Wisconsin and has long been involved in the Right to Life movement. She joined the Marshfield chapter when she first moved here 32 years ago, and continues to be involved with organizations that deal with crisis pregnancies, such as the Hannah Center and Shirley’s House of Hope.
Rozar has a master’s degree in nursing and recently retired as a nurse educator after 14 years. She continues to work as a nurse in the cardiac medical/surgical unit at Marshfield Medical Center.
“I hear from patients all the time who are afraid they can’t pay their bill, so I have an understanding of health care,” she said.
When it comes to the biggest topic of 2020 — the COVID- 19 pandemic — Rozar takes a hardline stance against what she sees as government overreach in trying to slow the spread of the disease.
“I believe the COVID situation has been politicized to the detriment of individuals and the economy,” she said. “I’m disappointed that our governor chose to shut down our economy.”
As a lawmaker, Rozar said she would “never vote for mandatory masks” and believes commonsense precautions like washing your hands and staying at home when sick are sufficient to prevent widespread transmission of the virus.
Rozar said local officials, such as Wood County’s public health officer, have tended to take this more commonsense approach than those at the state and federal levels. Rozar said she was pleased that Republicans in the legislature filed a lawsuit and got the state supreme court to rule that Gov. Evers overstepped his authority with the Safer at Home order.
Going forward, Rozar said she is opposed to closing anything down again and fully supports reopening schools in the fall, with in-person classrooms.
When asked about the increase of cases in Wisconsin, Rozar said that doesn’t necessarily mean that things are getting worse.
“We have an uptick because we’re testing more people, but the death rate is going down and the number of sick people is going down,” she said.
As a practicing nurse, Rozar said she’s had patients on her unit with COVID-19 and knows fellow nurses who have tested positive, but medical professionals deal with communicable diseases all the time, like the flu. She believes COVID has unfortunately been “politicized.”
“There’s a lot of misinformation out there, and the misinformation has been detrimental, because it has not allowed people to function in a commonsense way,” she said.
As an example of this, she mentioned a recent experience at work in which she took her face shield off because it had film on it from so many cleanings and made it hard for her to see while she was starting an IV on a patient.
Rozar also worries about people’s longterm health due to overreaction to COVID-19.
“If we start living in bubbles, how’s anybody going to develop an immunity?” she said. “We develop immunity because of our exposure to bacteria and viruses” Because of the economic downturn related to the COVID- 19 crisis, if Rozar were to be elected to the assembly, she and other members will likely face a massive shortfall in tax revenues.
“I do believe the next budget is going to be tough, and we’re all going to have to tighten our belts a little bit,” she said.
Rozar said she is a strong supporter of investing in infrastructure, but she believes that lawmakers are going to have to prioritize the state’s needs and also seek publicprivate partnerships with non-profits and churches in order to serve constituents. She said this strategy is an outgrowth of her political philosophy.
“I believe so strongly in the individual and not in the state,” she said. “That’s why I’m a Republican.”