Kelda Helen Roys, former head of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin, was elected to the State Assembly in the 81st District Tuesday night claiming just over 31% of the vote. With no Republican vying for the seat, the Democratic primary, which featured six candidates, determined the successor for Rep. David Travis who represented the district for 30 years. Roys garnered 1,960 votes compared to 1,683 for runner-up Justin Sargent, a legislative aide.
"All of my opponents ran a very spirited race," said Roys late Tuesday night, citing perseverance as the primary reason she believes she prevailed. "I started knocking on doors so early and never stopped."
Roys, 29, was born and raised in north Madison and made a point of noting in her campaign advertising that she was the only candidate in the race originally from the district. She enters a legislature that is known for its politically divisive atmosphere, something Roys says she would like to help change.
"I think it's incumbent on every member of the legislature to reach out and establish relationships with members across the aisle," she said. "I have managed to work on some of the most contentious issues in my career including women's reproductive health and criminal justice issues and have worked with people across the political spectrum."
When asked if she plans on gleaning some wisdom from Travis in the coming weeks and months, Roys made it clear she has already sought and followed his advice.
"He told me to bring a pencil when you do doors in the winter, because the ink in a pen will freeze," she said. "And he told me never to walk behind the horses in a parade, which is advice I appreciated very much."