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Birthday: Nov. 1, 1982
Hometowns in chronological order: Wittenberg, Wis.; Wausau, Wis.; Stevens Point, Wis.; Morgan Hill, Calif.; San Francisco, Calif.; Rohnert Park, Calif.
I grew up partially in a small college town in Wisconsin, but I truly associate with rural Wisconsin. I come from a blue-collar farming town with a population just over 1,000 people. There, my mom and my grandma taught me hard work. As a waitress during my most formative teen years, I slung piping, plate-sized pancakes while truckers slung their sass at me. It's where I grew my work ethic — one that follows me to this day.
But I craved culture, experience, discipline. When I turned 17, I joined the military, the first day I legally could. Both my parents signed their names on the infamous dotted line, as did I.
My military career lasted eight years — six of which I served in the Army Reserve. Two of those years I was activated for Operation Iraqi Freedom. I've spent time in Fort Lee, Va., Fort Sill, Okla. and Balad, Iraq. During my military career I was also sent to Qatar, United Arab Emirates for a brief respite, awarded to me for outstanding performance in a combat zone. I spent my civilian leave time in Germany.
Upon returning home from war, I quickly took up residence in the first place I could think of that would accept me — San Francisco. I'd changed. The disconnect I witnessed firsthand on the thoroughfares in Iraq; then the secondhand account I watched in disbelief on television on base shook me to my core. I became a journalist in Iraq. I wrote every day, took photos, watched with an open mind and a skeptical eye.
Now, officially, I've been a reporter for five years. I worked my way through college as a server and as an intern. My first reporting gig was at a string of Bay Area News Group newspapers: the Oakland Tribune, the San Mateo County Times and the Contra Costa Times. I went on to cover environmental degradation on San Francisco's waterfront, and wrote a series of profiles on the Bay Area's endangered species. Most recently, I covered land-use, development and transportation issues for the San Francisco Public Press, a nonprofit, public-interest newspaper in San Francisco.
At Patch, we promise always to report the facts as objectively as possible and otherwise adhere to the principles of good journalism. However, we also acknowledge that true impartiality is impossible because human beings have beliefs. So in the spirit of simple honesty, our policy is to encourage our editors to reveal their beliefs to the extent they feel comfortable. This disclosure is not a license for you to inject your beliefs into stories or to dictate coverage according to them. In fact, the intent is the opposite: we hope that the knowledge that your beliefs are on the record will cause you to be ever mindful to write, report and edit in a fair, balanced way. And if you ever see evidence that we failed in this mission, please let us know.
I'd love to talk with you over coffee, lunch or a dog walk about hot-button issues and my core values.
I'm a registered Democrat and my voting trends lean towards progressive politics, but mostly, I just love to debate issues. I'm pretty patriotic, I'm a strong believer that we need to reinvent the "American dream" and that we could all be a little more open-minded. Some of my favorite political battles took place in the desert in Iraq, fighting with some of the most hardcore Republicans that you can imagine, so bring it. I promise I'll listen. My political beliefs have been molded mostly by San Francisco politics. Harvey Milk changed my life, as did Tom Ammiano, JFK, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
But mostly, I owe all of my beliefs to the strong women in my life — my mom, my grandma, my aunts Juli and Bonnie, my sisters Kerri and Melanie, my battle buddy Shiloh Yard and the all-inspiring mentor Yvonne Daley.
My favorite thing to do is go to church with my Grandma in Polonia, Wis., a hardcore Polish Catholic church in the middle of nowhere. Afterwards we walk to a very Polish bar across the street and drink Lambrusco, a sweet red wine served chilled. We spend the afternoon there each fighting to be heard over the jukebox blaring country music. I like listening to different beliefs, and that's the extent of it.
Local Hot-Button Issues
Rohnert Park was built by developers, so development and business remains the largest issue here, and it's one that we promise to tirelessly report. A rash of schools have also closed in the past few years, and the economic crisis has hit this town of 42,000 hard. We will continue to follow these issues as well. Rohnert Park is struggling to maintain an identity and to retain jobs.
Rohnert Park is also home to Sonoma State, the Green Music Center, Sonoma Mountain Village and the Business Cluster — all major developments sure to change the face of the city.
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