Debra Kolste was first elected to the Assembly in November 2012 and has been in office since.
For the 2019-2020 legislative session, Deb will serve as the Ranking Democrat on the Assembly Committee on Health, the Assembly Committee on Substance Abuse, and the Assembly Committee on Transportation. Deb will also serve as a member of the committees on Agriculture, Medicaid Reform and Oversight, Mental Health, and Rules. Deb has also been appointed to serve on the Speaker's Task Force on Suicide Prevention.
Deb has an extensive background in community service. She moved to Janesville in 1992 and immersed herself in the Janesville Public
Schools as a volunteer with the PTA and PTO organizations. She ran for school board and served for 9 years, ending as board president.
She is a former YMCA Board member and is past president of the Mercy Health Systems Association of Volunteers. She led thousands of kids on tours of Mercy Hospital and was chair of MercyKids. Deb is a long-time volunteer at HealthNet, which serves people with no access to health insurance. Her husband, Rex, is a family care physician and is medical director at HealthNet.
Deb adapted and directed the Mock Drunk Driving exercise at Craig High School for two years. She helped start Rock Futbol, a youth soccer league, and was on its first board. She has volunteered with the local literacy effort, particularly through fundraising.
While serving in the Assembly, Deb has served on the Speakers Task Force on Mental Health which has produced bipartisan legislation. Also, Deb was nominated to serve on a Legislative Council Study set in place to review Wisconsin’s technical colleges.
Deb was born in Nebraska in 1953. She was co-valedictorian of Kimball County High School. She is a graduate of Nebraska University with a degree in medical technology. She worked as a medical technologist at Mercy Health Systems before taking a leave to run for Assembly.
Deb and Rex started and operated a successful medical clinic in Colby, Kansas. They sold that business and moved to Janesville. Deb manages a family farm, a grain operation, in Colby.
The Kolstes have three adult children, all graduates of Janesville Public Schools, and three beautiful grandchildren.
Deb is particularly interested in economic development, education, and health care issues. She enjoys family life and thrives on meeting people and talking about the issues.