Local businessman, now freshman representative, readies for Madison

Posted November 30, 2016

After winning his first election, River Falls entrepreneur Shannon Zimmerman is headed to Madison to fill the seat being vacated by Wisconsin State Assemblyman Dean Knudson.

With 56.5 percent of the Nov. 8 vote, according to the Associated Press, voters decisively chose the Republican candidate and Sajan Inc. CEO to represent District 30 over his opponents, Democrat Scott Nelson and Independent Aaron Taylor. Sajan, of which Zimmerman is a co-founder, is a local business that provides language translation services to companies across the globe.

“As much as I hate to say this, I’m not as necessary here on a daily basis,” replied Zimmerman when asked if he had any hesitations about balancing his business priorities with his upcoming legislative work at the Capitol. Crediting the development of “an exceptional leadership team” at Sajan, Zimmerman explained how he could effectively balance both responsibilities.

“I will be able to conduct my own interviews, and choose the staffer that I think best aligns,” stated Zimmerman while discussing how his staff might be of assistance to him at the Capitol. In addition to having an exceptional team working at his business, it is also “critically important” to Zimmerman to have a good staff working at his legislative office in Madison.

“I come to it with a non-biased view. I come to it with fresh ideas. I come to it with motivations that are my own and of this district,” said Zimmerman as he shared some qualities he intends to bring to the State Assembly as a representative. Referring to the seat that he was elected to as a “citizen legislator position,” Zimmerman cited his leadership experience as a factor that will enable him to overcome any barriers associated with being a freshman member of the legislative body.

“I want to be a tireless advocate for reform in terms of education and how it interacts with private sector business,” answered Zimmerman when asked what his goals were for his first term in the legislature. Referring specifically to college education, students often lack excitement toward internships because the process of accumulating credits “is difficult for them; it is not made easy for them,” Zimmerman said.

“I think there is opportunity for us to reform how that process works so that we get more students involved in the businesses in our communities,” he said.

For River Falls resident Carrie Herfindahl, who supported Zimmerman’s Democratic opponent during the campaign, education is a top issue.

“I have kids in the K-12 system, and have a son that is going to be starting high school soon, so college education is a big concern,” she said.

Education also is a top priority for Zimmerman. In fact, education was a major talking point of Zimmerman’s throughout his campaign. Zimmerman recently began his second term on the UW-River Falls Foundation Board of Directors and participates on the chancellor’s advisory committee.

Zimmerman is scheduled to be inaugurated on Jan. 2, when he will officially be sworn in and begin his first term as a member of the State Assembly.