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A Somerset first: Schachtner takes the oath

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Joined onstage by Somerset Principal Shannon Donnelly, St. Croix County Sheriff Scott Knudson and Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, Patty Schachtner enjoys a laugh before before taking her oath of office Friday, Jan. 26, at Somerset High School. Mike Longaecker / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 3
Sen. Patty Schachtner sings the Somerset High School fight song during a swearing-in ceremony last week at the school. Mike Longaecker / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 3

SOMERSET — Patty Schachtner took her oath of office last week with a nod to history and her hometown roots.

Friday's swearing-in ceremony represented the first time a Somerset resident was ever elected to the Wisconsin Senate.

"Today, Somerset, you put yourself on the state map," Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling told an assembled group of students and community members inside the Somerset High School gymnasium.

The La Crosse lawmaker was among a slate of state and local speakers at the event, where she described Schachtner as someone who's "fiercely proud" of Somerset.

"Patty and her family just oozed that hometown pride," Shilling said of Schachtner, a Somerset School Board member.

The Democratic leader noted that Schachtner will become the 1,037th member elected to the Senate, but just the 30th woman to do so.

Schachtner, elected to the Senate in last month's special election, took her oath of office from Municipal Judge Brad Nemec. The event was ceremonial; Schachtner was to take her official oath early this week.

"I am so proud to call Somerset my home," Schachtner told the crowd. "This experience has been a whirlwind. The real work has not started. I have learned many lessons and many experiences."

Speakers at the event, including Schachtner, touched on the negative tones the special election brought and urged community members to reject divisiveness. St. Croix County Sheriff Scott Knudson — a Republican and a 1990 Somerset graduate — said there is no room for politics in how he and Schachtner must work together toward public safety goals.

"Politics cannot get in the way of what we do in the community," he said.

The event closed with Schachtner, a 1978 Somerset graduate, singing along with the Somerset High School band as it played the school fight song.

"I'm from Somerset — I couldn't be prouder. If you can't hear me now I will yell it a little louder," she said to applause.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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