Contact: Shabnam Lotfi


Badger Law School Alum says UW, Environment, Kids, Women’s Rights & Govn’t Reform are top priorities

(Shorewood Hills) Shabnam (SHAB-nam) Lotfi (LÜT-fee), announced today she’s running for the Wisconsin State Assembly seat being vacated by retiring State Representative Terese Berceau in the Democratic primary set for August 14th. The 77th District includes the near west side of the City of Madison, including much of the University of Wisconsin campus, as well as parts of the City of Fitchburg, the Village of Shorewood Hills, and parts of the Towns of Blooming Grove and Madison.

“The 77th Assembly District stretches from Observatory Drive to Allied Drive,” Lotfi said. “After listening to friends and neighbors, I’m convinced we need a progressive young voice who’ll continue the fight for the diverse interests in this district and be an Assemblyperson for everyone.”

“If there’s one word that describes most of the people I talk to, that word is exhausted,” Lotfi said. “People are tired and frustrated, and they’re turning off the news because they find it toxic. Our community doesn’t believe government is working for us. We believe the establishment is bought and paid for. I’m running for the Assembly to make government work for us.”

The 35-year-old Lotfi lives in Shorewood Hills with her husband who she met while both were students at UW. But it’s her personal journey that has given her an appreciation for the diversity of the district.

“A millennial woman of color with a different-sounding name might not be the first person you think of as someone who has a shot at winning a tough race for the State Assembly, but I actually think my journey is what has prepared me for this moment,” Lotfi said. “It’s what led me to study law at UW, what led me to start my immigration law practice here in Madison, and what gives me a unique understanding of the residents of this district.”

At the age of four, Lotfi and her parents fled war-torn Iran and immigrated to the United States. She said it’s her memories of living surrounded by war that made her an advocate for peace and gave her passion and appreciation for the adoptive country and state she calls home.

“When you’ve smelled death, felt the heat of bombs, and heard the screams of women, it sears into you a pretty deep conviction in terms of being an advocate for gun control and the safety and rights of women and children,” Lotfi said. “But those childhood experiences also gave me a real appreciation for the unique opportunities we have as Americans—opportunities that people in most other countries don’t have—and our duty to fight to protect our freedoms.”

Lotfi plans to focus her campaign on four key issues: the University of Wisconsin, the environment, government reform, and creating a better future for kids.

“As a UW Law School grad and past TA at UW, I understand first hand the importance and strength of the University of Wisconsin – Madison both as an institution of learning and research and as an economic driver for our state’s economy,” Lotfi said. “But science and education are under attack in Wisconsin by both Governor Walker and the Republican legislative leadership,” Lotfi said. “I look forward to joining people like state Senator Fred Risser in being a zealous advocate for the Wisconsin Idea. It wasn’t so long ago our legislature and the University partnered to develop innovative and progressive legislation making us a national leader. World-changing discoveries like the isolation of the first stem cell line and subsequent explosion of stem cell research happened in Madison under a nurturing spirit of support for the university and sciences. It’s time we return to that cooperative model.”

“The 77th Assembly district includes many beautiful lakes, waterways, and parks. We need to ensure they’re protected and improved for future generations to enjoy,” Lotfi said. “We must do more in terms of better recycling, addressing our carbon footprint, and working with local organizations like Clean Lakes Alliance to restore Madison lakes and Ducks Unlimited to protect our wetlands. I trust our scientists and experts and I’ll work with them to lead the way in moving Wisconsin forward into a greener future.”

“I want a functional government that works for the people of Wisconsin,” Lotfi said. “Wisconsinites are frustrated. I often hear people say things like, ‘we need to get rid of…’ pick your favorite government agency. And it’s true; sometimes government gives us reasons to be cynical. But there are also a lot of wonderful people in government working and advocating on our behalf,” Lotfi said. “During my time working at the Wisconsin Bureau of Child Support, I saw first hand that many times what we need is not elimination, but reform. I’ll stand up for our many fine state employees and work with them to update technologies allowing them to be more efficient and, in turn, serve the public better. I will also work to bring transparency back to our government, because the government’s job is to serve the people.”

“It’s time to end the blame game on the children of Wisconsin, particularly those in minority neighborhoods, by a Republican-controlled legislature who’d rather put money into a bloated and ineffective incarceration system than focus on supporting our kids,” Lotfi said. “I’ve been an American citizen for 25 years, but I know first hand the feeling of being stared at and the pain of being called a terrorist simply because of the way you look or how your name sounds. We have to make a steadfast commitment to start our kids off right. We have to have zero tolerance for bullying, and we have to fully fund our public schools to get all of our kids to an equal starting line.”

These key issues dovetail with other issues affecting Wisconsin’s families, and Lotfi feels passionately about those, as well.

“When I meet families at their doors, I see people working hard,” Lotfi said. “I see people running to work, saving for their future, trying to pay their bills, taking care of their health and trying to exercise. I see moms and dads who are feeding their kids, getting them ready for school, and making sure they’re well fed. The one thing they should never have to worry about is whether their kids will come home from school. Gun violence is a real threat, and to those who want to arm teachers, to those who are pushing for open carry laws on our university campus, and to those who don’t have the courage to stand up to the gun lobby and pass laws to ban assault weapons, we say: ‘your time is up.’”

“It’s 2018, and when it comes to issues such as reproductive justice and LGBTQ rights, the courts and the people have spoken in support,” Lotfi said. “Yet here in Wisconsin, the state that led the way on both of these landmark issues, we find our government stuck in 1918, assailing these rights and stoking the fires of hate. We say, ‘Love trumps hate,’ and I’d humbly suggest it’s time to add some diversity to the Capitol.”

“I’m a proud Democrat, and I was inspired to step up and run for public office by President Obama,” Lotfi said. “It’s because of his leadership, his unwavering commitment to hope, that I welcome all who share our vision to this campaign. A stronger University, better education, a cleaner environment, healthy kids growing up in a safer, more inclusive place, a government that works for its constituents—those ideas aren’t unique to where we’re from, what religion, if any, we practice, or what party we may have voted for in the past. What unites us are our common values and our shared ideals. What unites us is in our hearts. This campaign is not about me. It’s about us. It’s about restoring our faith in those three little words: We the People. We can do better. That’s why I’m running for the Wisconsin State Assembly, and that’s why I invite everyone who shares those ideals to join us, and I humbly ask for your vote.”

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