Additionally, our State Senate candidates provide their take on the issues facing us and how they plan to solve those problems. Read what the candidates had to say in the survey below.
Wisconsin’s 32nd Senate District Survey:
What do you believe are the most important issues facing voters in Wisconsin’s 32nd Senate District, and in what ways are you prepared to address them?
People want to be heard. They want their opinions considered and respected.
Unfortunately in Madison, party politics and special interests dictate policy. We need to change that. It’s time for the legislature to move away from petty politics and focus on the issues that matter — jobs, education, health care, repairing our roads, and keeping our communities safe and strong. Too many people in our area lack or cannot afford health insurance. Rather than working to provide affordable coverage for our state’s residents, politicians have listened to special interest groups. Prescription drug costs are too high and not enough is being done to reign in those costs.
We also need to restore investments in local schools, technical colleges and UW campuses in order to strengthen communities and remain competitive in the global economy. In too many parts of our area, our roads are in disrepair. Not only is this costly, it’s dangerous. Poor roads make it more difficult for our farmers and manufacturers to get their goods to market, while raising public safety concerns for our residents.
We need to step up and fix our broken transportation funding system so we can get to work repairing our local roads, bridges and highways.
Recovering from covid-19 and returning to normalcy in our lives. We can put a stronger emphasis on the low number of hospitalizations and increase in capacity for supplies while describing the symptoms for those testing positive.
Safety in our homes is a very strong message that is resonating with the people of the 32nd senate district. If it can happen so close to home in Kenosha, it can happen in La Crosse or anywhere else in the district. We need to continue to back our brave men and women who put their lives on the
line for us each and every day.
Concern for all businesses including agriculture as they recover from the economic shutdown and covid challenges. Making sure the farmers of Western Wisconsin are prioritized and not forgotten. We cannot put more rules, regulations and taxes on both businesses and farms.
Like many states, Wisconsin has been hit hard by the pandemic and the subsequent economic fallout. What would you propose the Wisconsin Legislature do to address these issues?
We must make sure we don’t lay the burden of getting through this pandemic on the backs of taxpayers.
Working through a very challenging budget is the first step. We will have to make sure expenditures that we do make, prioritize the citizens of the 32nd and Wisconsin first. Sound fiscal policy is more important than ever. We should never be spending money that we don’t have by thinking the gap can be made up by the taxpayers.
Unfortunately, instead of leading and providing certainty to businesses, schools and communities, legislative leaders play more partisan politics. The virus is our enemy, not each other. We need to come together and care for each other. There are three simple things all of us can do — wash our hands, socially distance, and wear a mask. Unfortunately, these simple things, things that our medical professionals have advised, have been politicized. It is hindering our ability to fight the virus. It’s time for the state legislature to get back to work and stop playing politics with the pandemic. We need to make sure that all Wisconsinites have access to testing and treatment options. We also need to recognize the economic and social stress that this virus is having on our small businesses and working families. We need to break down unnecessary government red tape and help our small businesses and working families during this difficult time.
There are mixed views on how best to address the coronavirus, from calls for a complete lock-down to letting nature run its course. What do you believe is the best way to work to slow the spread of the virus while protecting our state’s economy?
Non-partisan medical professionals recommend three simple things — wash your hands, stay socially distant, and wear a mask. Unfortunately, rather than listening to science, Madison politicians continue to play politics.
This virus does not care about politics, it does not care if you are a Republican or a Democrat. We need to put aside our political differences, roll up our sleeves and work together. The sooner we can decrease the spread and reduce risks, the sooner we can get our lives back to normal and safely get our kids in the classroom and workers back on the job.
Now that we have much more data on the virus, I think we can start to address it in a much more targeted approach. We know older populations, especially with underlying conditions, seem to be the most vulnerable. These are the individuals we need to focus on and make sure they have the resources they need and access to the care they need. And they also need to make the best
personal decision for their health.
We absolutely cannot shutdown our economy again. The impact of the shutdown will have long term effects that I don’t think we will realize for a while including mental health problems.
Do you believe police reform is necessary, and if so what changes do you support?
First and foremost, we must support our law enforcement officers. These men and women wake up each and every day, put a badge on, and try to make our communities a better place. Right now, they are under increased pressure which creates small hesitations on the job that will unfortunately cost them their life and possibly endanger the public.
Addressing police reform has been ongoing in our local law enforcement departments for many years. We must be careful not to over regulate our law enforcement officers to make it more dangerous for them and the public. Reforms have been proposed and I will back anything that is best for law enforcement and the public.
You can’t look at what happened to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and many others and think that we can’t do better. It is vital that our communities are safe and welcoming. Furthermore, everyone deserves to be treated equally under the law. It’s up to all of us to hold each other, and our public servants, to that high standard. As a candidate for State Senate, I continue to meet with law enforcement and community leaders. People in this community want to make sure our law enforcement have the resources and tools they need to do their job the right way. That means increased funding for modern training, body cameras and other necessities. Politicians who try to make this a divisive election issue are doing a disservice to law enforcement and the people they serve. I will continue to listen, bring people together, and help support safe, healthy, and just communities.
You both have extensive backgrounds in the agriculture industry. What specifically needs to be done to protect and develop Wisconsin’s ag industry?
We need to listen to our farmers. We need to hear from them their hopes and dreams. We need to recognize that agriculture and farming is more than just a business, it is a way of life.
Unfortunately, our state is losing upwards of two dairy farms a day and Wisconsin is leading the nation in farm bankruptcies. People’s lives and livelihoods are on the line.
I will work to develop markets — locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. The international trade wars that have erupted over the last several years have really hurt our ability to market and export goods. Unfair tariffs on Wisconsin-made products like cheese, pork, soybeans and cranberries have a ripple effect throughout our communities. We need to end the chaotic trade wars that are closing markets, increasing consumer costs and driving farmers out of business.
Farmers need stability and a long-term plan to level the playing field. In the State Senate, I’ll work to invest in our rural communities and stand up for our local family farmers. From infrastructure investments and health care reform to workforce development and sustainable water management practices, we need to pull together and make sure our local family farmers have the support they need to succeed.
As someone who was born on a farm and worked in the industry for over 20 years, I know farmers are going through an exceptionally tough time right now. Promotion of our great products that our farmers produce is a must. And we must limit burdensome rules, regulations and taxes that inadvertently inhibit the growth of their farms.
Do you support reforming the process of redrawing Wisconsin’s legislative boundaries, specifically, adopting the “Iowa model?” Why or why not?
This may be one of the most politicized issues recently. One of the most important things Americans should participate in is voting. It is a routine job performance review for every politician.
The 32nd senate district leans democratic because of the City of La Crosse but if you look at the district as a whole, voters tend to support a good candidate over a party affiliation. Many of the districts in Western Wisconsin are that way. Good candidate messages that resonate with the people will win.
Republicans took the majority and Governor Walker won under the old maps. It’s very hard to find “non-partisan” people that we can put on a commission to draw a new map. The constitution says the party in power has the ability to draw the maps that the governor can veto or sign.
Yes, in the Senate, one of my priorities will be to end the practice of political
gerrymandering that allows politicians to draw legislative district lines and deny voters equal representation.
For me it’s simple. I think voters should get to pick their elected officials – not the other way around. When we have more competitive districts, politicians are more likely to listen to local residents rather than catering to party leaders and special interests.
The 32nd Senate District is the most watched contest in the state, and as candidates each of you is attracting record number of political donations. Do you support campaign finance reform in Wisconsin, and if so what specific reform is needed?
Yes, I believe that our state needs to reform our campaign finance and ethics systems. One of the biggest attacks on our democratic process was the decision by Madison politicians to open the floodgates and allow millionaires and corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on dark money ads to influence Wisconsin elections.
Creating a fair and transparent system is one of my top priorities. I will fight to restore Wisconsin’s tradition of fair, open and clean elections. We need to take back our democracy by closing campaign special interest loopholes. We need to improve campaign finance transparency, and put an end to undisclosed outside interest smear attacks.
I am glad western Wisconsin is starting to receive recognition again. It seems over the last few years Madison has seemed to be forgotten about and that needs to change. I am always humbled by the support I get from the men and women in my district, who even now during tough financial times, send contributions. That’s really humbling to know that what you’re doing is important enough to them that they are willing to do that.
I am proud of the fact that most of the money supporting our campaign is coming from families in our senate district.
A record number of voters are expected to vote absentee in the November election. After what happened at the polls in April, what should be done to protect the integrity of our elections?
The right to vote is one of our most important duties as Americans and what happened in April was quite frankly mismanagement by local officials and the governor.
Shutting down polling stations in some of the most populated areas in our state is completely unacceptable. Early on there was a tremendous effort to inform voters on how to vote early or by absentee if they felt it was necessary for their own personal reasons.
It’s been well documented that there was no uptick in cases due to voting in person and that’s because our clerks did an amazing job and handled the task at hand. The governor had weeks to prepare the national guard for any polling municipality that needed assistance and he failed to do so. It was a mismanagement of resources.
Every vote needs to be counted and we can’t afford to let outside groups and foreign powers meddle in our elections. We are already seeing reports that foregin countries are attempting to divide communities, sow chaos and increase confusion in our elections. On top of that, special interest groups are already spending millions of dollars in Wisconsin on misleading attack ads without any repercussions. With all of the threats, we need to make election security and ballot access a priority.
I support absentee voting and making it easier and safer for qualified electors to cast their ballot. With the anticipated increase of mail-in voting, I oppose efforts to cut funding from our U.S. Postal Service, reduce hours or slow mail delivery. I appreciate the work of local clerks who are stepping up to register new voters, expand absentee voting options and even create drop-off sites for voters who prefer to personally return their absentee ballot. Together, we can make sure our elections are run smoothly and every vote that gets cast is counted.
The level of political discourse seems to have fallen to a new low. If elected, what would you do to work with the opposing party to ensure the issues facing Wisconsin voters are addressed?
In times like these, it’s more important than ever that we set differences aside and roll up our sleeves and get to work. Growing up on the farm, if your neighbor needs help, you don’t ask what party they’re in. You just show up and lend a helping hand. We can’t let petty partisan politics stand in our way any longer. It’s time to set all that aside and make sure everyone has opportunity and a fair shot at a good life. To do that, I’ll bring my western Wisconsin values with me to the State Senate every day. Values like decency, honesty, respect and cooperation. Those are the hometown values that we all grew up with. We need more of it in Madison.
Recently, I think this narrative seems to be driven more and more by the media because it draws more interest and it is unfortunate the positive things being done don’t get more air time.
When I was in the legislature there are many examples of when I worked with colleagues across the aisle to get things done. Many important issues facing Western Wisconsin do not need to be partisan.
If elected, I have a duty to do what is best for people in the district and that is my priority. I have shown a willingness to vote with the other side especially on two major bills that I voted on because that’s what I thought was best for the citizens of the 32nd and the state.
What is the best advice you were ever given?
Listen and learn. Most people know something you don’t.
I was taught two important lessons early in life. The first, you are given two ears and one mouth for a reason, listen twice as much as you speak. I was also told to always remember where I am from. I am proud to be a son of dairy farmers from the rolling hills, coulees, and valleys of northern La Crosse County. As a State Senator, I will never forget where I am from.