Q. What relevant experience do you bring to the office you seek?
I am a 39-year resident of NW Wisconsin and have lived in my current home in Polk County for 32 years. In 2008 I retired from a teaching career after spending 23 years in the Unity School District of Balsam Lake. I have served on the Polk County Board of Supervisors, the Polk-Burnett Electric Cooperative Board of Directors, the Polk County Board of Adjustment and the Polk County Renewable Energy Committee. I have been active in many community organizations including the Northern Waters Literacy Council, the Ice Age Trail Alliance, Interfaith Caregivers, Gaylord Nelson Audubon Society and Woodland Chorale.
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. What are the ways you would help find funding for the rebuilding of this state?
The gas tax needs to be increased and then indexed to keep up with the increasing costs of road construction and maintenance. Maintenance of existing roads should take precedence over expansions of existing highways and interchanges. More emphasis should be placed on mass transit and carpooling.
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?
In Minnesota, public schools receive about 2/3 of their funding from the state and only rely on local property taxes for about 1/3 of their revenue. In Wisconsin those numbers are almost the reverse. We rely far too heavily on the property tax to fund our schools. Compounding this funding dilemma is the increasing amount of state money going to private voucher schools. We simply can’t afford to continue funding two separate school systems.
Q. What makes you the best candidate to represent your district?
I’m a good communicator who is open to all opinions and am willing to change my mind when presented with compelling facts. My first loyalty will be to the people of my district, though I am also very concerned about doing what’s right for the entire state of Wisconsin. I will not be beholden to wealthy campaign donors and PACs.
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?
1. Restoring the reputation of Wisconsin’s K-12 and university systems by providing adequate funding that is fairly distributed.
2. Renewing our commitment to a clean and healthy environment by ensuring that the DNR is run by people knowledgeable about science, and then letting them do their jobs.
3. Reaffirming our confidence in local units of government by allowing them to make their own decisions and then respecting those decisions without undue state interference.
4. Promote job growth through a more responsible and accountable Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, whose focus should be on job creation and not rewarding political friends.
5. Insure that state government continues to operate as openly as possible and free from outside influence. Strengthen and enforce open records and open meetings laws.