My name is Kirk Bangstad and I’m running for State Assembly District 34 as a Democrat against Republican incumbent Rob Swearingen. I currently own the Minocqua Brewing Company, a large brewpub in Minocqua, WI. I decided to run after observing an absolute failure of leadership during the trying Spring of 2020, when Rob Swearingen and his republican colleagues failed to listen to health experts and forced Wisconsinites to vote in person during a global pandemic, endangering the lives of their constituents.
Any legislator who would put partisan politics and special interest priorities over safety doesn’t deserve to hold elected office. Representative Swearingen supported this move to suppress the vote in a time of pandemic to help his preferred candidate win an election. After that, he and his conservative colleagues in the State Supreme Court overturned Governor Evers’ Safer-At-Home order, which had kept our state’s level of infection relatively low compared to neighboring states.
A true leader for the Northwoods would have listened to health care experts and supported the science that clearly showed we needed to re-open in phases, after appropriate criteria were met. Rob Swearingen has blood on his hands, and is unfit for public office. We need a leader who cares more about the health of folks in the Northwoods than partisan politics.
The son of educators, Kirk Bangstad grew up in a middle class family in Portage County. He worked his way through Stevens Point Area High School, waiting tables and mowing lawns before earning a scholarship so he could attend Harvard University. After graduation, Kirk landed a job in the Silicon Valley of California, and worked primarily as a strategist for technology companies – both with early stage start-ups and corporate leaders like Microsoft, Oracle, Google, and Cisco.
Growing up in a family of musicians – his mother was a voice teacher and his father a choir director – Kirk has had a life-long passion for singing. A second career in music took him from California to Chicago to New York, while he worked with technology companies by day and sang by night. Along the way, Kirk managed a rock band, received a scholarship to study music, pursued graduate studies in voice at Northwestern and sang on stage from New York to Japan and places in between.
After Kirk’s late wife Elizabeth was diagnosed with cancer, they left New York City and moved to Minocqua thinking that a slower lifestyle in God’s country would be a healthy way for Elizabeth to flourish in spite of her illness. Along the way, they purchased the Minocqua Brewing Company, learning the business of brewing and restaurant ownership. Kirk dove into the community, ultimately becoming the president of the Minocqua Island Business Association, where he works with local business and community organizations to bring more tourism to this beautiful Northwoods town.