Jesse James

Q. What relevant experience do you bring to the office you seek?
Residents of the 68th Assembly District need a representative who understands the district’s needs, knows how to balance budgets, and can work together to build a safe and prosperous community for everyone. As Altoona’s Police Chief, I have the experience necessary to get things done and be a strong voice for the voters at the Capitol.

As Police and Fire Chief, I maintained three different operating budgets and was responsible for each of them. The budgets are over two million dollars and we balanced them every year.

One of my priorities is always to work as a team and build positive relationships between our departments. We’ve been successful at this, and it is seen through our city leadership. We need to work together, even when we are not on an incident together. We need to be able to listen first, realize every person has something to offer, and work together to keep our communities safe. I will bring this same philosophy to Madison.

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.
As a member of law enforcement, I’ve spent a good deal of time on the road for my job. I understand how important it is to get a long-term transportation solution. Making sure our roads and bridges are safe is a priority. While I believe it will take a variety of different approaches, looking at how we spend our transportation tax dollars is the first step. We should compare what we do with other states to see if there are common-sense reforms we could make to reduce costs and spending per mile. After we do that, it makes sense to have all revenue options on the table for discussion. Adequate funding for safe roads is important for the 68th Assembly District and the state.

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? 
As a state representative, it would always be one of my top priorities to make sure students and teachers have the tools and funding they need in the classroom. It is my understanding that the most recent state budget increased general and categorical aids to K-12 public schools by over $630 million. That’s good news, and I’m glad we were able to provide that increase as a state. We should continue investing in our local schools to make them the best they can be. Each budget, the state needs to look at how surplus revenue is handled. As a state representative, I would look at using some of those dollars to increase education funding as one of the top priorities. With these types of increases it should positively impact our school budgets and allow for appropriate raises to teaching staff. This will keep our well trained and professional caring and loving teachers here versus moving to Minnesota.

While we should work hard to make sure property taxes remain in check, communities can choose to increase spending in their district by voting in a referendum. I support their ability to decide locally on their level of community spending on education.

Q. What makes you the best candidate to represent your district? 
To be successful as a police officer you must be able to listen and work through problems with people who may have different ideas. That’s the type of experience I will bring with me to the Assembly. I will listen to both sides and work to find solutions that work best for our district regardless of what party comes up with them. Being a public servant, it is all about serving the people and working to help them prosper and succeed. A passion to continue serving our communities, people, and children is what made

me decide to run for the 68th Assembly District. I’ve served locally and now seek serve the larger community in the State Assembly. My experience as Police Chief gives me an understanding of the district and allows me to be a strong and effective voice for them. We won’t always agree on everything, but I will listen and learn from constituents about what is important to them. This is no different than when I took over as fire chief. It was a daunting task. I came from an EMS background and did not have experience with fire. I listened and learned what I needed to know and worked hard. I look at this opportunity in the same light. These are exciting times for us and I am excited to be a candidate for the 68th Assembly District.

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?
As a state representative for the 68th Assembly District, my top priorities would be to grow the economy and keep the budget balanced, find a long-term solution to fix our roads, work to reduce healthcare costs, invest in education, address growing mental health issues, and continue the fight against opioid and meth problems.

Keeping the tax burden low and reducing red-tape will help our economy continue growing. Expanding access to job-training and workforce development programs will help people get the skills they need to have successful careers.

We can help reduce healthcare costs by incentivizing preventative care and allowing businesses to pool resources to provide lower health insurance prices to their employees. Protecting those with pre-existing conditions should also be one of our priorities. Making sure individuals with mental health issues have access to treatment will also help address problems before they get out of control.

As a law enforcement office, I’ve seen firsthand the devastation the opioid and meth epidemic can have on families and communities. Wisconsin has been a national leader with the HOPE Agenda, but there’s still more work to do. We must work to address addiction issues before they start, help make sure treatment is available to those who need it, and give law enforcement all the tools they need to get drugs and drug dealers off the streets.

It is about continued improvements, having an open mind, listening to other ideas, and being compassionate towards one another. We can work together to find common sense solutions that work for everyone.

WQOW Staff

WQOW Staff

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