(Photo from campaign Facebook page.)
(Photo from campaign Facebook page.)

Former CIA officer raised in Menomonie is among a field of candidates running for Congress in the 3rd District

[Editor’s Note: The seat in Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District will be open this November for the first time since 1996, when Democrat Ron Kind first took over the job held previously by Republican Steve Gunderson. The race in western Wisconsin will be one of the most closely watched in the state—with one Republican candidate so far and four Democrats who will face off in an August 9 primary. UpNorthNews is inviting each candidate to submit a column about themselves or a topic. Rebecca Cooke was featured on Jan. 6. This following column is written by former CIA officer Deb McGrath of Menomonie.]

All of my life, I have carried my Wisconsin values of faith, hard work, and respect across four continents and 25 years of service in the US Army and CIA. In my toughest assignments and especially in war zones, I relied on the lessons I learned in Menomonie. 

I grew up on western Wisconsin’s trails and waterways. Farmers and small business owners called on my father, former Congressman Al Baldus, at all hours seeking his help. He worked to make life better for the people of western Wisconsin. Dad taught me to listen, treat others with care, and speak boldly on their behalf. 

My father also taught me the value of service and encouraged me to join the military at a time when few women did. While abroad, I witnessed struggles; discord that separates communities, lack of trust in government, and enduring challenges of health care, infrastructure, and economic inequity. And yet, I came home from my service to find our country grappling with the same threats I witnessed abroad. 

On January 6th, I watched the violent attack on our Capitol and Constitution, horrified to see fellow Wisconsinites in attendance – among them my Republican opponent. Over one year later, that deep wound has yet to heal. The voting rights of vulnerable communities are threatened, many still believe in stolen elections, and women’s rights to basic health care are at stake. Our country is at an inflection point. 

We need principled leadership that respects our Constitution and the electorate. We need accountability, compassion, and understanding to heal our wounds. Our democracy is the core of our American way of life. I will always honor the oaths I took to protect and defend our Constitution. Now, I am called to serve my fellow citizens in Wisconsin. If elected, I will fight for affordable health care, the right to vote, for equitable educational opportunities, and internet access for every community in western and central Wisconsin. 

In my work, I put our country above politics. I brought people with different perspectives together to solve complex problems. Stepping up for challenging assignments in the Army and the CIA, I became a leader who empowered others. As a wife and mother of three, I will fight for our rights and opportunities for our communities, farms, and small businesses. If elected to Congress, I will champion families, our economy, and our strong nation and I humbly ask for your vote in August.