DISTRICT 28: Work remains as Severson seeks re-election to legislature
When District 28 Assemblyman Erik Severson goes campaigning door-to-door, he expects one of three reactions.
"It's either 'I love you,' 'I hate you,' or 'I never vote,'" he said.
Severson said he doesn't enjoy the visits with those who are angry about some of his votes, but he understands it's all a part of being a politician. In his job as a physician at Osceola Medical Center, Severson has also had frank discussions with patients following an office visit.
"It doesn't even faze me now. We made the hard decisions," he said of Republican efforts over the past two years. "People see that we didn't make decisions based on wanting to get re-elected. We did what we needed to get done."
Tax cuts, spending cuts and reforms, including Wisconsin's highly controversial Act 10 reforms eliminating much of the bargaining power of unions representing public employees, have made a difference in the economy of the state.
Even though some voters are quick to express their displeasure with Severson this campaign year, he said overall he thinks his constituents support what's transpired in Madison.
"I think they like what's going on," he said. "People have strong opinions on both sides of the issues, but mostly people are really concerned about the economy. They're wondering if the economy is going to continue to grow and if they are going to be able to find jobs."
Republican efforts the past two years have helped brighten the economic picture across Wisconsin, Severson said.
Even though the 28th District has historically been split down the middle politically, Severson said the trend now is more toward conservatism. In the recent recall election that affirmed Gov. Scott Walker's elected position, 61 percent of voters in Severson's district voted for Walker. In the last presidential election, district voters sided with John McCain - one of the few in the state to do so.
"Generally this area is more conservative ... at least since the 1990s," he said. "Voters look at the candidates for themselves, instead of listening to all the spin."
As election day approaches, Severson said much work remains for the next legislature and he wants to be a part of that continuing reform.
"We need to get back and finish some things," he said.
Among the goals Severson said he'd like to see accomplished are regulatory reforms to help streamline business efforts, as well as tax cuts and state tax code reforms to eliminate loopholes.
"We need to spend less as a government," he said. "That can be done. Places can be found for cuts."
Voters are also telling Severson that there's a need for reforms related to Wisconsin's recall laws.
"People are very concerned about recalls," he said. "People are asking if we can change that so that recalls can only happen for certain things."
The fall-out from the recent state recalls is that voters are "electioned" out, Severson said.
"There's a lot of voter fatigue," he explained. "People are looking forward to Nov. 6. They can't wait for the election to be done and they want to move on."
Even though people are tired of the apparent non-stop political campaigns, Severson said this year's presidential race should attract a huge voter turnout and he's optimistic that he will be returned to his post in the legislature.
Severson said he's enjoyed being out on the campaign trail this past summer and fall. His schedule has included 15 parades and numerous other events in the three-county area.
"It's a large time commitment, but that's where you find out what's going on and find out what's important to people," he said.