County Board Supervisor Jenifer Bizzotto :: Making Marathon County Home & Civic Engagement a Priority

Written by Jenna Flynn

When I hopped on a Zoom call to complete an interview with Marathon County Supervisor Jenifer Bizzotto, I was pleasantly surprised to see another young professional such as myself staring back at me. An accomplished professional, she has already immersed herself in Marathon County culture, though she has only lived here since 2018.

Bizzotto ran for a position on the Marathon County Board of Supervisors in 2020, and, while she did not win the election, she was appointed by the Board to represent District 2  when former Supervisor Romey Wagner resigned after moving out of the district.

Marathon County Board Supervisor Jenifer Bizotto. (Photo courtesy Marathon County Government website.)

She serves on the Marathon County Public Safety Committee and the PACE Commission — a statewide commission focusing on Property Assessed Clean Energy. The PACE program enables property owners to obtain low-cost, long-term loans for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation improvements. Bizzotto also involves herself in the Wausau Transit Commission.

In addition to her local contributions, she serves on the Legal Assistance Committee with the State Bar of Wisconsin, which develops and monitors State Bar programs to expand support for the delivery of civil legal services to low-income and disadvantaged Wisconsin residents. As you can see, Bizzotto is busy wearing multiple professional hats in and around the community.

Personally, she confesses, she is “very millennial,” living with a roommate and each of them having their own pup, Pickles and Marty. She is from a small town in South Eastern Michigan and claims to be the stereotypical “middle child” living in the “boring part.”

County Supervisor Bizzotto shares her home with her roommate and their two dogs, Pickles (left) and Marty (right). (Photo courtesy of Jenifer Bizzotto.)

She attended The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor for 4 years pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Spanish. She jokingly shared:

“The number-one way you can easily offend me is by arguing that the UP should be part of Wisconsin!”

After spending a year teaching financial literacy at an alternative high school on the west side of Chicago, she moved to Madison and began working as a financial specialist for the Department of Workforce Development and enrolled in law school 1 year later.

Bizzotto is a lawyer by trade. Reflecting on battling her way through her schooling at UW-Madison, she shared:

“There’s something less miserable about law school when you can sit on Monona Terrace and enjoy the view while studying.”

She was inspired to begin law school in 2015, as there was a lot happening in the political world at that time and she was energized about getting involved. Bizzotto knew that there was much about “the system” that needed to be fixed.

She commented on how unfortunate it was that there were so many flaws in the unemployment system that weren’t fixed by the time the pandemic hit. This led to delays with much-needed COVID-related relief efforts. 2020 was certainly an momentous year to start her role in County Government!

Bizzotto currently works at Judicare, the legal services provider for Wisconsin’s northern 33 counties and 11 federally recognized Indian Tribes, alongside her fellow County Board Supervisor, William Harris (read his profile, written by Chad Dally, here).

Supervisor Bizzotto with her nephew, Vincent David, born in January 2020. (Photo courtesy of Jenifer Bizzotto.)

When I asked Bizzotto what she liked about Marathon County, she gushed about the Ice Age Trail. In fact, she is part of the Central Wisconsin Ice Age Trail Alliance. This was one of the main appeals when considering her move to Wisconsin — and Marathon County, specifically. She enjoys trail running and hiking and highly recommended the Eau Claire Dells portion, if you haven’t visited there already, saying:

“One of my favorite places in Marathon County is the Eau Claire Dells at the 45th parallel — It’s the halfway point between the equator and North Pole. It feels like a very magical spot.”

Bizzotto also spent the past year working part time at Patina Coffeehouse in Wausau.

“I love coffee and getting into that window of small businesses. The small businesses have such a tight-knit community here.”

Bizzotto has spent some time over the years pursing interests in salsa dancing, reading, and cooking. She takes to friendly competition with her boyfriend, Juan, to see who can make the best dishes.

County Board Supervisor Bizzotto with her significant other, Juan, in fall 2020 at the Wisconsin Dells segment of the Ice Age Trail in Marathon County. (Photo courtesy of Jenifer Bizzotto.)

When I asked the burning question about why Bizzotto ran for County Board she responded quickly:

“There was a controversial issue that was voted on — the Pride Resolution. I was reading about it all fall and winter of 2019. I had just moved here and wanted to get invested in the community and was looking for ways to get involved. Reading about this, this signaling of our values and seeing the rhetoric against it… I’m very passionate about equal rights and civil activism. I thought the community was being presented in a harmful way — including national news coverage that did not feel flattering for Wausau. Hearing from others, the perceptions from outsiders that were shared with me was that Marathon County didn’t feel welcoming — as if we’re in a position to debate people’s rights.

This decade will be a decade of change and cultural shift. It will present opportunities to stand up for the communities that I value and doing so in a way that’s respectful and inclusive of everybody. There are many culture issues that are important to me, and it’s a great time to be involved.”

When I asked Bizzotto how she makes decisions, she considered her response in a very “justice-oriented” way, sharing:

“William Harris has been a great mentor to me. Being appointed, I missed the boat for the training of new supervisors. It’s been great to discuss issues with other great leaders. I’ve heard from some constituents and look forward to hearing from even more, across a wide diversity of issues — economic, social, administrative, etc.”

She also named Wausau Mayor Katie Rosenberg as another great leader:

“I’ve been inspired by her [Mayor Rosenberg]. She’s just so quick to raise the community up and has been a fabulous forward thinker for us.”

When I asked Bizzotto what the most meaningful work she’s been involved with so far on the board was, she responded thoughtfully:

“I’m new enough to the Board still that I’m still getting hold of how things work. It hasn’t been a specific item or topic, but being on the Board has led me to say yes to things that I wouldn’t have otherwise — like attending discussions on Black History Month and getting involved with Point-in-Time counts [to gather data on local people facing homelessness]. It has allowed me to be more involved and engaged with the community. This allows me to better understand issues and needs in Marathon County. It makes me even more motivated to be involved and get to know people better.”

When I asked whether she would run again, she sounded unsure with still being so new and learning so much, admitting:

“I’d like to wait and see how things are going…”

Bizzotto is a shining example of what it means to be civically engaged. It’s a good reminder to other young professionals like me that you don’t have to wait until you’re a long-time member of the community or after you’ve spent many years working to be in leadership roles.

The best time to jump in is now.

I challenge anyone reading Jenifer’s profile to consider how they are civically engaged — in their county and beyond — and whether their involvement could be more intentional going forward.

Jenna_FlynnJenna Flynn

Public Health Educator | Marathon County Health Department

Tobacco Control Coordinator | Central Wisconsin Tobacco Free Coalition

Jenna Flynn is a Public Health Educator with the Marathon County Health Department and serves as the Tobacco Control Coordinator for the Central Wisconsin Tobacco Free Coalition. Jenna holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a master’s degree in Public Health. She grew up in Northern Wisconsin and is proud to serve the central region. In her free time, Jenna enjoys coaching and playing volleyball, cooking, and participating in the many outdoor activities that Wisconsin has to offer.  Email Jenna Flynn.

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