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Voting is like hiring an employee. Voters are hiring a representative to take care of public business for all of us. Employers typically look at education, work history, knowledge and skills to assess the person’s ability to do the job. With some jobs there are formal certifications or skills assessment tests that can help.
Unfortunately, with elected officials there are no formal qualifications, certifications or civil service tests to weed out the incompetent.
In Wisconsin you can’t cut hair or sell real estate without training and a certification. But any nincompoop can run for office no matter how ignorant or unqualified.
So voters are on their own to sort through the misleading campaign propaganda, lies and attack ads.
In our complex, science-based world, lawmakers should have a minimal understanding of law, science, economics, finance and history to make intelligent decisions about complex issues.
Politicians lacking in knowledge and experience become pawns of “advisers” like lobbyists, special interests and big money donors. The result is bad public policy that benefits the few at the expense of the rest of us.
We’ll look at the candidates for the Wisconsin 73rd and 74th Assembly districts. None of these candidates are incumbents running for re-election.
Laura Gapske is the Democratic candidate for the 73rd district. She has been on the Superior School board since 2017. Laura has a BS degree in sociology and 18 years of experience in social work, specifically in domestic and sexual abuse. She has extensive experience serving on the boards of nonprofit social service organizations. In 2021 she started a consulting business supporting children and families involved with the courts. Currently she is director of programs at Men As Peacemakers in Duluth.
Laura’s website lists her top five issues with detailed solutions and her experience with each topic. She believes “health care is a fundamental human right” and we need a better, rational universal program of health insurance. She wants to “invest” in pubic education and our crumbling public infrastructure. She supports Gov. Evers’ and President Biden’s efforts to fund these essential needs. She says, “Politics and money shouldn’t manage our natural resources. We cannot afford to blindly trust corporations with our most valuable assets.”
Laura is especially creative in her thinking about police reform. Police have tough jobs. She says they should not be “overwhelmed” by calls to situations they are not adequately trained to handle. Public safety should involve community-based responses to social and mental health situations. This will actually help police do their jobs much more than knee jerk calls to “support the blue.” Ms. Gapske has well thought out, specific proposals on real problems affecting Wisconsin. She is obviously a good candidate.
Angie Sapik is the Republican candidate. This is her first run for any elected office. She is employed by her family’s wholesale produce company as an “onion broker.” There is no information on her educational background, experience or other work history.
Her website lists three areas of concern. On “Fixing the Economy” and dealing with inflation she will cut taxes – the standard Republican non-solution to every issue. She desires “Empowering Parents and Putting Kids First.” Apparently this means she opposes mask mandates and supports recent “parental rights” legislation (I wrote about this craziness in “The fruits of faulty judgment” April 14, 2022). She offers the usual empty promises to “fight for” farmers, small business and schools.
Angie claims to be “for business and the environment.” She apparently thinks supporting hunting and fishing equates to being an environmentalist and “supporting conservation.” Her campaign Facebook page indicates she is a typical right-wing Republican repeating the usual false and misleading talking points about freedom and big government.
However she claims to be a “moderate.” The only evidence I could find of her “moderate” views is an interview where she said she is not homophobic. There is no evidence that this candidate has the knowledge, skills, ability needed to be good Assembly representative.
The 74th Assembly district includes Bayfield, Ashland, Price and Iron counties. Because of recent gerrymandering a large area of Douglas County around Solon Springs is lumped into the 74th district.
The Democratic candidate is John Adams. John has a degree in journalism and has worked for newspapers in Montana and Minnesota. He later attended law school but didn’t finish a degree. Instead he became a vegetable farmer. He works for Bayfield Foods, a 20-farm cooperative marketing organization distributing local food in northern Wisconsin and Minnesota. Since 2019 he has served on the Town of Washburn board. John serves on various cooperative boards and started a local chapter of the Wisconsin Farmers Union.
John has a unique and astute approach to discussing his position on issues. John says he is “running to preserve our freedom.” But he doesn’t mean the “narrow and shortsighted freedom” of the Republican soundbites.
John’s vision is based on President Franklin Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear. John’s vision of freedom is a practical, inclusive, comprehensive agenda for policies that support people through working together to build local, prosperous communities. I can’t adequately summarize John’s excellent message to voters. You should read it for yourself at adamstotheassembly.com.
Chanz Green is the Republican candidate. According to his website Chanz has a background in “municipal utilities” and four years ago was “hired” (promoted?) to utilities manager for the for the City of Ashland. One year ago he became owner of a tavern in Cable and an events rental business in Ashland. He has no experience in an elected position but has been a volunteer fire fighter for 10 years. On the issues Chanz’s website lists the standard Republican talking points about protecting “sportsman’s rights” (the 2nd amendment), supporting the police, empowering parents and “securing our elections.” There are no details or policy solutions provided.
Clearly Mr. Green has no substantive qualifications for Assembly representative. There is no evidence that he can adequately represent the district. He will only be a pawn for the Republican leadership in Madison.
There is a clear difference in the objective qualifications of these candidates. The many challenges facing northwest Wisconsin require representatives with the real knowledge, ability and creativeness to find workable solutions. Laura Gapske and John Adams are the better choices for Assembly.