Meet Katie Rosenberg, the newly elected mayor to Wausau, Wisconsin. Rosenberg, a lifelong Democrat, beat the Republican incumbent, Robert Mielke by a solid 5%. She became an instant internet sensation with her simple two word tweet when the results were finalized:
— Katie Rosenberg (@katierosenberg) April 13, 2020
But her friends and the people of Wausau know her better for her iconic peace sign she flashes as readily as she flashes her contagious smile. She also ran one of the cleanest, most positive campaigns that I have seen in Wisconsin in a long time, which is not surprising for someone like her.
I've been cyber friends with Rosenberg for a many years, even before she entered politics and became a Marathon County Supervisor, and always found her to be direct, honest and thoughtful. I have always enjoyed our chats and gained insights from her that I hadn't thought of before.
Unfortunately, not even the charming community of Wausau is immune to the hate and bigotry that has become all too prevalent in our society. Rosenberg has been the victim of uncounted misogynistic attacks. She has also repeatedly been been the target for anti-Semitic attacks as well:
Rosenberg had plenty of examples.
“The majority of it is online via Twitter or Facebook. It’s usually name-calling (I am sure you know all the anti-Semitic names) and I block or delete them,” she said in a Twitter direct message exchange. “Last summer I had some guy (obviously drunk) come up to me and tell me that I was trying to ‘Jew’ him.”
The experience was not new to her family.
“Growing up my dad was on our local city council and we received tons of mail addressed to ‘Jimmy RosenJew.’ I only received one letter like that,” she said, attaching a photo of a pile of hate and hoax mail her father got.
But there's a catch. Rosenberg isn't Jewish:
Despite her last name, Rosenberg isn’t Jewish — we asked her about it.
“Any Jewish heritage I might have was lost a looooong time ago, before my family left Europe,” she said in a private exchange with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency on Twitter. “I don’t know the story, unfortunately.”
But that doesn’t mean she hasn’t had some quintessentially Jewish experiences, which she explained in a manner that was consistent with the in-your-face attitude in her victory tweet.
“A lot of people assume I am Jewish and I don’t see any reason to correct them because a lot of it comes in the form of anti-Semitism,” she said.
Given that Rosenberg is only 36 years old, Wausau has a long, bright future ahead of it. And with the election of William Harris, the first African American to serve on the Marathon County Board, that entire region is a breath of fresh air in the general miasma of Wisconsin politics today.