Q. What relevant experience do you bring to the office you seek?
I served my community in many ways on committees through the county and school district. In 2001 I was elected to serve as Town Chair in my Town of Brunswick where I live and in 2006 I was elected to serve in the state Assembly representing the 93rd District. Since then I have been a community organizer; helping guide people to make a difference through policy change at the local level.
Q. The American Society of Civil Engineers says Wisconsin motorists spend $2.0-billion per year in costs from driving on roads in need of repairs. Name a specific measure you would support that would bring in more money for road projects.
First of all, we have been informed that it would cost approximately $4 billion to bring our roads up to standard in Wisconsin. Current leaders in our state consciously chose to do nothing and claim we don’t have the funds to address these problems, yet they were eager to pledge $4.5 billion to a foreign corporation to build a plant near Chicago to supply Illinois workers with jobs. Obviously, the priorities are messed up in Madison. With that said, we need to change that attitude and stop the giveaways to special interests who only supplement their profits with our public dollars. The solution to upgrading our infrastructure does not rest on one idea, but a multitude of ideas that include restoring the gas indexing we had in place before it was foolishly abolished around 2005. I also like the idea of registering our vehicles using a value based fee. If someone can afford a $50,000 vehicle they can pay more than someone who can only afford a $2,000 vehicle. Of course, we should encourage less heavy vehicle traffic and find ways to charge the heaviest users for the damage to our roads.
Q. State aid to local school districts has been reduced, or remained flat for the last few years. Leaders of local school districts say that has resulted in stagnant teacher pay and reductions in educational programs that students need and want. Some worry that we are losing our best and brightest teachers to neighboring states. So many local school districts are now going to voters, asking them to pass referendums that would allow these schools to raise local property taxes to make up the difference. In your opinion, is this the best and most fair way to fund these projects? If so, what is the role of the state to provide further assistance.? If not, what, specifically, would you do to provide more state aid to local schools and where would that money come from?
End the failed “parental choice” program as soon as possible. The scam of sending vouchers to private and sometimes for-profit schools is only taking resources from our public schools. We cannot afford to support two systems. Other than that, the state must remove the revenue limits imposed on school districts 25 years ago. I believe in respecting the elected officials at all levels and that means allowing them to make the decisions they were elected to make. Restore home rule, which is in our constitution, at all levels of government. It’s a shame that our school districts have to rely on referendums. Live up to the 2/3 funding promise made at the time revenue limits were placed on schools. Also, the state must adequately fund mandated programs; particularly for those students with special needs. Include teachers in decisions that affect our students, rather than making policy from administrators and politicians who never set foot in a classroom.
Q. What makes you the best candidate to represent your district?
Not only have I lived here my entire life, raised a family here and run a business here but I have represented this area in the legislature before. I come to this with the most experience. I am someone who is not looking for a career in politics. Having served in the legislature for four years, I will be up and running quickly. After leaving the legislature I have continued to be involved in community and state issues while campaigning in the new districts formed in 2011. I am recognized throughout this district already as a leader and someone people turn to for solutions and action.
Q. What do you think should be the top priorities for the state and your area over the next decade? If elected to office, how would you advance those priorities?
We need to address the problems face in rural Wisconsin. Particularly,
(a) access to healthcare
(b) funding of our rural schools
(c) protecting our groundwater from contamination
(d) lifting wages for everyone so they can afford their housing, food, healthcare and amenities without having to work multiple jobs.
(e) restore local control and respect of local offices
(f) redistricting reform and other campaign reforms
Some solutions have been addressed in previous answers but I cannot stress enough about changing the priorities of this legislature through our budget. The state budget is a moral document that reflects what we care about. Thus,
(a) We need to accept the medicaid funding allowed us under the ACA.
(b) We must address the school funding as I described earlier
(c) Place a statewide moratorium on expansion of CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations) allowing the study of and adoption of regulations of manure spreading that is stronger than we have now. Restore the DNR to full capacity. Restrict sand mining and allow local regulation of mining to protect the residents around it.
(d) Allow municipalities to pass Living Wage ordinances and minimum wage laws. Stop blaming the poor for budget woes and remove hurdles for families to get aid when they need it through W-2, unemployment benefits, etc.
(e) There have been more than 120 bills passed over the last 8 years that have restricted local jurisdictions from making policy that they deem best for their communities. Remove those restrictions and let democracy prevail.
(f) Speaking of democracy, we do not enjoy a true democracy when the legislators are able to draw their own districts to protect their incumbency and power. Adopt a non-partisan redistricting policy like Iowa enjoys. Then repeal the voter ID law that has suppressed so many voter’s rights along with opening up voter registration to everyone who is eligible.