League of Women Voters Wisconsin asked the following questions for their Voter Guide.
· What educational, occupational, civic, and community experience do you have that qualifies you for this office?
I have a degree in theology from St Mary’s University. Have been an alderman in the City of Onalaska, the owner of a small business which provided technical assistance and systems to small and large manufacturers throughout Wisconsin. I worked for Raymond Brothers Development and managed 350 apartments, and held a Wisconsin Real Estate Brokers license, and served as project manager for the Center 90 area of Onalaska. I have served on the boards of the La Crosse Communications Consortium, The Clearwater Farm foundation, and the not for profit ResCarta Foundation.
· Currently the state legislature is responsible for drawing district lines for both the Congressional and Wisconsin legislative districts, allowing our elected representatives to “choose their voters,” and they may do so in a way that does not reflect the character of the state or district. Legislation has been introduced in the last two sessions calling for a non-partisan agency to draft new voting maps for approval by the Legislature. Will you introduce and/or support this legislation, which puts the interests of the voters before the interests of those in elected office? Yes or No? Please explain.
Yes, voters should be able to choose their representatives while working with each other. Gerrymandering creates “Safe” districts for legislators. Iowa has been able to create a more unified system and I feel that Wisconsin can create a more open and equitable system as well. There are many other ways that legislators carve themselves safe spaces in the law. We must also look at ways that the legislature has exempted its members from open records requirements, taxes, and penalties.
· Please describe up to three top priorities for your term in office and how you will effectively address those issues.
Education: Public education is the core of a democratic society. State funding must reflect the promise of “every child deserves a quality education”. School districts should not be constantly asking for referendums for support. Under the referendum system the wealthy districts get more funding and poorer districts get less. State funding for education is an equalizer and puts each and every child in the state on firm ground. I will work to get back to a more equitable funding source for our schools.
Taxation: The state tax code creates a higher burden on the lower incomes than the top earners. Recent changes create a greater burden on home owners than on big business. Electric cars pay no gas tax while using tax payer roads. We need to provide more equitable taxation.
The budget: This is the most important work the legislature does. We need to have a budget that works for all of Wisconsin and is void of special interest gifts or line items that should be debated outside of the budget process. The budget is required to be balanced and should be balanced by priorities and not by accounting maneuvers.
· In the 2015-16 legislative session the opportunity for public involvement in policy making has all but vanished. An example was the introduction of multiple bills on a Friday after 5 pm with the only public hearing the following week. This does not give citizens adequate time to understand the legislation and communicate with their representatives. What will you do to ensure meaningful citizen input into the public policy-making process?
Government is not a spectator sport. Democracy requires public involvement. If some legislators want to hide in the night and rush legislation before citizens catch site of hidden agendas, then others who hold office must rally the voice of the people and the press. The people should demand and legislators must create a requirement for common sense opportunities to review and reflect on bills being offered. We should have a state requirement for continuing civics education so that the electorate understands how they are governed. We need to encourage participation of the electorate at all steps in the process.
“We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate”