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Murtha hopes to return to continue legislative service

John Murtha was on the campaign trail in New Richmond last Friday.

Incumbent 29th District Assemblyman John Murtha admits he had an interesting first term in office.

"I went in not knowing what to expect," Murtha said. "It's been quite an experience."

Murtha admitted that the legislative process can be rather frustrating, because things move so slow. It's something he's had to adjust to over the past two years.

"I'm used to getting things done," Murtha said. "It's a long process for anything in the Legislature."

He said he's also been surprised at the reaction he hears from voters who are upset with the way the government is operated.

"I've gotten blamed for the Iraq war and oil prices," he said, "things I have no control over. That's the part of the job that's hard."

Murtha said he tries to work with legislators from both the Democratic and Republican parties to do what's best for Wisconsin and its residents.

Murtha feels good about many of the things he has helped accomplish in Madison.

Taxes were kept down and the budget was scaled back during his tenure, he said.

"I feel like I did what people sent me to Madison to do," he said. "I helped eliminate $18 billion in taxes, including government-run health insurance."

He also feels good about the defeat of a plan to institute an additional real estate transfer fee that would have cost an average of $3,000 per home when a sale occurred.

"That would have really devastated us," he said, noting that the real estate market is bad enough without an added fee.

Murtha, who was in New Richmond Friday campaigning, said his door knocking has gone well this fall.

He's also spent a good deal of time talking to people on the phone and attending special events in the area. Murtha also walked in several area parades this past summer to both campaign and support his daughter, who is on the Baldwin royal court.

Of course the economy is the topic on everybody's mind when he talks to constituents on the campaign trail, he said. Few are suggesting that taxes be raised to solve the problem, Murtha added.

"Nobody has an expectation that there's a quick and easy fix to it," he said. "We have to work our way out of this situation and not tax our way out."

When asked what his three top legislative priorities would be if re-elected, Murtha said:

1) Job growth -- "We have to have people working," he said. "The government has to be less restrictive and respond quicker to people's needs," he said.

2) Reducing gas prices -- "It's more a federal level issue, but if I could be a voice in finding answers to that, I would," he said.

3) Health care reform -- "This is one issue we can all agree on," Murtha said. "We've made progress in this area. But I don't think government-run health care is the way to go."

If he could be guaranteed to accomplish one thing as a re-elected Assembly person, Murtha said he'd help to push down energy prices.

"I think that would solve a lot of our problems," he said.

Murtha said he's enjoyed his time as a local representative and is ready to help lead the state for another two years.

Murtha, 57, and his wife, Terrie, have four children and two grandchildren.

Murtha was born in Hammond and has been a St. Croix County resident all his life. In fact, he's part of the fourth or fifth generation of family members who have called the county home.

After high school, Murtha attended Chippewa Valley Technical College. He has been employed as a carpenter, truck driver and musician over the years.

He's also started several businesses, including a body shop, wrecker business and garbage collection company.

He's served on the Eau Galle Town Board for several terms and is currently its chairman.