Swanson set to challenge incumbent in District 29Democrat Jim Swanson of Menomonie stopped by New Richmond last Thursday, April 19, to announce his intention to run against incumbent State Rep. John Murtha (R-Baldwin) for the District 29 legislative seat.
By: By Jeff Holmquist, New Richmond News
Democrat Jim Swanson of Menomonie stopped by New Richmond last Thursday, April 19, to announce his intention to run against incumbent State Rep. John Murtha (R-Baldwin) for the District 29 legislative seat.
Near the end of his appearance in front of a handful of supporters, Swanson picked up a blue tin cup and talked about the campaign that will lead up to the Nov. 6 elections.
He said he expects Murtha’s campaign to gain plenty of support from large Republican donors and political action committees. Swanson called his effort to get elected the “tin can campaign,” pledging to stay away from PAC money and relying on small donations from regular folks.
“I’m going to work to get money out of politics,” he said. “I’m fed up with it. I’m not going to be beholden to special interests. I’m going to represent you.”
Swanson criticized Murtha for his “rubber stamp” approach to representing the area, noting that the incumbent had voted with the Republican majority on a variety of bills that harm the state and its residents. He singled out Gov. Scott Walker’s efforts to strip public employees of their collective bargaining rights as one example of harm done by people in office.
He said environmental protections across Wisconsin have been compromised thanks to Murtha and others, and women’s rights to equal pay are being assailed by the same people. The economy has also been harmed, he said, as jobs have left the state.
If elected, Swanson said he will use his extensive experience as a conservationist and the lead teacher at the Lucas Charter School in Menomonie to guide him in his work.
“I’m not a politician,” he said. “I’m a conservationist and an educator and a lot of other things though.”
Swanson’s extensive work with the environment has not gone unnoticed. He was named 2011 Outdoor Conservation Educator of the Year by the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation. He has also served as president of the Wisconsin Muzzle Loaders organization, and has volunteered to improve trout stream habitat throughout the state.
“I believe conservation efforts in Wisconsin have long suffered from neglect or outright attack,” Swanson said. “It’s time for Wisconsin to resume its traditional role as a leader in conservation and environmental protection.”
Among his other legislative goals, Swanson said, are creating living wage jobs that support middle class families; ensuring all Wisconsin residents have access to health care; maintaining the current Wisconsin Retirement System; and keeping the quality public education system working for Wisconsinites.
Apart from his work with at-risk youth as a teacher, Swanson has also worked as an outdoor writer, fork lift driver and even as a stay-at-home dad.
Swanson and his wife, Amy Riddle-Swanson, have two daughters who are currently attending college. Swanson has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and a masters from Ohio University.
In introducing Swanson to the crowd, local teacher Scott Herron said the candidate stood side-by-side with other union supporters last year when Act 10 was being pushed through the legislature.
“He’s willing to be on the front lines with us,” Herron said.
Herron criticized Wisconsin Republicans for much of their legislative initiatives over the past year and a half, including reductions in health care access, restrictions in voting laws and reductions in private sector jobs.
If Swanson is sent to Madison, Herron said, he would fight for the average worker and not for “a select few.” He said Republicans have that priority turned around.
“Their loyalty to a party rather than a state cannot be forgotten,” Herron said.
For more information about Swanson’s candidacy, visit swanson29 assembly.net.