DISTRICT 28: Hraychuck believes state’s economy is turning aroundOver the past four years, Ann Hraychuck has worn out two cars, thanks to the number of miles she puts on.
By: By Jeff Holmquist, New Richmond News
Over the past four years, Ann Hraychuck has worn out two cars, thanks to the number of miles she puts on.
As a legislator from District 28, Hraychuck (D-Balsam Lake) said driving to Madison and to appointments throughout her large district is a challenge.
It’s part of the job, however, and it means she’s doing what she was elected to do — represent her district and listen to the voters.
“In order to play the game, you have to be in the field,” said Hraychuck, noting that she’s been criticized lately for spending a lot of time in Madison. “You have to be in Madison fighting for your district. If not, you’re going to get bowled over.”
Contrary to other criticism she’s heard, Hraychuck said the job of legislator is not a part-time position that can take a back seat to a person’s full-time job.
“People aren’t buying the argument that it’s a part-time job,” she said. “You need to be there when a legislator needs to be there.”
It’s also important to be in the district, Hraychuck said, meeting with constituents and listening to what they have to say on a regular basis. She said she has conducted regular listening sessions in all of the communities in her district over the years, gathering positive and negative feedback from voters.
“It’s an important part of my job,” she said.
To better represent her constituents, Hraychuck said she has worked to form the rural caucus in the Assembly to strengthen the negotiating power of districts in the northern part of the state.
Members of the rural caucus work together on issues of importance to their districts, bringing upwards of 12 to 15 votes to the table when legislation is being debated in the House and Senate.
The effort has worked, Hraychuck claimed, and allowed rural legislators’ collective voice to be heard.
“We work on issues of importance to western Wisconsin,” she said, “like keeping the driver’s license stations open and the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) stations open, or increasing shared revenue and road aids for towns.”
As the campaign winds down toward the Nov. 2 election, Hraychuck said she feels good about the job she has done since being elected in 2006. She said she believes voters will decide to return her to her legislative post.
“I continue to be an independent voice,” she said. “Even voting against my own party on some issues.”
Hraychuck said her effectiveness is even greater in recent years, as the Democratic party took over control of the House and Senate. As a member of the majority party, Hraychuck said she was better able to direct important legislation.
One of the biggest recent accomplishments was the passage of a balanced budget, Hraychuck noted, compared to a $6.6 billion deficit 20 months ago.
Another recent success included a stronger BadgerCare system for providing health care to the disadvantaged, she said.
Still, Hraychuck said she feels more needs to be done in the coming months to get the state back on track and she wants to be part of the solution.
“It took us eight years to get into the situation we’re in nationally,” she said. “In the past 20 months, we’ve made great strides. But we have a lot of work left to do. I’m not one to leave business unfinished.”
For the first time in 40 years, Hraychuck said, legislators made deep cuts in government spending this year. Efforts are also being made to create jobs.
“I want to help figure it out, so people can get back to work,” she said.
What she’s not so thrilled about is the current “silly season” — the months leading up to the election.
“All of the lies and inaccurate things that are being said — that’s difficult,” she said. “It’s not fun at all.”
Hraychuck said she’s willing “to be held accountable” for any vote she’s taken as long as those votes are accurately portrayed.
Hraychuck said her vision for Wisconsin’s future has never changed during her tenure as state legislator, and it won’t change if she’s re-elected.
“I want to keep this a good place to live, work, raise a family and run a business,” she said.