Updated: Garey Bies Not Seeking Re-election

Garey Bies, Door County’s State Assembly Representative since 2000, is not seeking re-election in November.

“I am very grateful to the citizens of the first assembly district who’ve supported me with their vote to be their representative for the past seven terms,” Bies said in a press release. “With your encouragement and prayers we have accomplished many things both large and small to make our state and district a better place to live, work and enjoy. I thank you for the opportunity to have served you for the past 14 years. God bless you, the State of Wisconsin and the United States of America.”

Illustration by Ryan Miller.

Bies, who lives in Sister Bay and owns the Carroll House restaurant, announced his decision on Monday, Jan. 20.

“Garey [Bies], he’s served a long time,” said Bill Berglund, chair of the Republican Party of Door County. “I don’t blame him for wanting to retire. Let’s face it, the last few years have been sort of hectic.”

Berglund said he doesn’t know of anyone ready to run for the Assembly seat, but wants to see a conservative candidate who has experience serving in local government.

“I’ve been there, personally, I’ve been on the county board, as town chairman and I’ve been on the school board,” Berglund said. “I know it’s a learning experience to do that. I think it would be a good basis for any candidate.”

Last month, Arnie Johnsrud announced he is running for the First Assembly District seat as a Democrat. Johnsrud is a Kewaunee county farmer and retired ag teacher at Kewaunee County High School.

Bies’s decision changes the way local Democrats, who haven’t had a candidate in the assembly seat since Lary Swoboda retired in 1994, are approaching the campaign.

“We have adjusted our target from Garey Bies to Garey Bies’s record, which is tied to Governor [Scott] Walker’s record,” said Garrett Cohn, chair of the Democratic Party of Door County. “This gives the Democrats an opportunity to explain the basic Democratic values, versus Garey Bies’ and Gov. Walker’s positions. We welcome the opportunity.”