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28th Assembly District: Three vie for seat

Democrat Jeff Peterson, incumbent Republican Adam Jarchow and independent Vincent Zilka will be on the Tuesday, Nov. 8, General Election ballot for the 28th Assembly District. (Contributed photos)

The New Richmond News reached out to the three candidates running for the 28th Assembly District with questions about the issues facing residents of Western and Northwestern Wisconsin.

The answers provided by the candidates were published in the Thursday, Oct. 4, edition of the New Richmond News and are provided here as our ongoing effort to inform the public about the stances on the issues by all area candidates.

Adam Jarchow

Age: 37

Address: Balsam Lake

Occupation: Attorney

Education: Finance and Law Degrees

Family: Married to Barbara (12 Years), 3-year-old twins — Bo and Megan

Civic involvement: Hope Church (Osceola); Director and Secretary of the Polk County Economic Development Corporation; Success By Six (United Way) Board of Directors; Volunteer Firefighter — Apple River Fire Department; Member of the Polk County Sportsmen’s Club; National Rifle Association; and Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association.

Q. The condition of our roads in this Assembly district and across the state are being questioned in light of the issues surrounding transportation funding. Do you think there should be greater funding for transportation? If so, how do tax increases or budget cuts figure into your solution?

Adam JarchowA. Our roads are vital for commerce of all kinds, including agriculture, manufacturing and tourism. In the past, the state has spent far too much money on large projects in Milwaukee and the suburbs. Recently, however, the Wisconsin DOT released its budget request. It includes significant increases for rural county and municipal roads. It increases funding for county roads by 8 percent and municipal roads by nearly 5 percent. It also increases bridge aid by 30 percent. This is good news for Wisconsin’s rural roads. I will fight to make sure rural roads are prioritized over spending on mega-projects in the Milwaukee area.

Q. The trend in education appears to be that there are fewer qualified teachers available and fewer dollars being provided for public schools. What is your stance on the funding of education in light of the competition for dollars that has come from the state’s increased funding of voucher schools?

A. As a graduate of Clear Lake High School (and public universities), I value public education. In my first term, we increased funding for K-12 Education. I expect that we will continue to prioritize education spending (in fact, the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates that over the next 10 years, we will spend $100 Million on K-12 education). This is by far the largest part of the state budget. We are blessed with good schools in our area, but others are not so lucky. We should provide those parents with opportunities to choose the best school possible for their children.

Q. Western and Northeastern Wisconsin historically has been an agriculture-driven economy, but with the decrease in the number of farms in District 28, and the rock-bottom prices for commodities at the present time, what measures will you take to ensure that the farming communities remain viable for years to come?

A. I am proud to once again have the endorsement of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau. This recognizes my continued commitment to agriculture and farming. In my first term, I authored and co-sponsored a number of bills that are helpful to farmers, including a bill to protect their well permits, and other bills to protect farm property from overzealous bureaucrats. I also just co-hosted a Wolf Summit. Many farmers testified about the detrimental impact wolves are having on them. I will use every available tool to pressure Congress to de-list the wolf, so Wisconsin can once again responsibly manage its predator population.

Q. Health care is a continuing issue, especially in light of our aging population here in this state. Are there specific health care issues you might champion to help your constituents here in the 28th Assembly District?

A. Congress must repeal and replace the disaster of Obama-Care. Since its implementation, many small businesses have found it nearly impossible to provide insurance to their employees. Many individuals and business owners have reached out to me asking for help. We have explored numerous options, but every road ends in the roadblock of Obama-Care. Until Congress acts to fix the mess it created with Obama-Care, I suspect we will continue to see declining availability, higher premiums and deductibles. This is ruining businesses and lives and must come to an end.

Q. Are you in favor of raising the minimum wage in the state of Wisconsin? Please explain your stance.

A. As a teenager, I earned $2 per hour working worked on a farm. A couple years later, I began working for Nilssen’s Market in Clear Lake for $4.25 an hour. In college, I worked in catering and with tips could make around $10 per hour. I tell this story because it’s important to recognize that the first “minimum wage” job leads to the next job, which leads to the next and so on. As we raise the minimum wage, more of those first jobs will be lost to automation, so I do not favor the increase some have proposed.

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Jeff PetersonJeff Peterson

Age: 65

Address: Luck

Occupation: Teacher (retired from Unity Schools, 23 years)

Education: B.S., Univ. Minn. (’75), Butterfield-Odin (MN) H.S. (’69)

Family: Wife (of 32 years) Nancy Stewart; adult daughter Arianne Peterson (31) of Rice Lake

Civic involvement: Polk County Board of Supervisors, Polk-Burnett Electric Cooperative Board, Polk County Board of Adjustment, Polk County Renewable Energy Committee, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Gaylord Nelson Audubon Society, Northern Waters Literacy Council, Interfaith Caregivers of Polk County, Woodland Chorale, Polk County Democrats, Unity Education Association

Q. The condition of our roads in this Assembly district and across the state are being questioned in light of the issues surrounding transportation funding. Do you think there should be greater funding for transportation? If so, how do tax increases or budget cuts figure into your solution?

A. Good roads are essential to Wisconsin’s economic development and we must devise a long-term approach to transportation funding. I believe it was a mistake to stop adjusting the gas tax to the consumer price index back in 2005. As the price of road maintenance increases, so should revenue from the gas tax. While I would be open to looking at registration fee increases, I prefer to capture revenue from all users — including those from out-of-state. We shouldn’t lose sight of the advantages of mass transit, including high-speed rail. I also support bicycle lanes for people who prefer bicycles to cars.

Q. The trend in education appears to be that there are fewer qualified teachers available and fewer dollars being provided for public schools. What is your stance on the funding of education in light of the competition for dollars that has come from the state’s increased funding of voucher schools?

A. School funding as a percent of the state budget is at a 20-year low. Since 2010, per-pupil funding to voucher schools has increased 14 percent, while funding to public schools has decreased 4 percent. Public schools in the 28th District have lost $16.3 million in that same period. We are currently spending nearly $300 million per year on private voucher schools. The bottom line is that Wisconsin can’t afford to adequately fund both public and private schools. I would work to stop providing taxpayer dollars to unaccountable private schools.

Q. Western and Northeastern Wisconsin historically has been an agriculture-driven economy, but with the decrease in the number of farms in District 28, and the rock-bottom prices for commodities at the present time, what measures will you take to ensure that the farming communities remain viable for years to come?

A. The state of Wisconsin should work with agricultural organizations to assist farmers interested in diverse crops, including industrial hemp. Farm-to-market and value-added production both hold great promise. The trend toward larger mega-farms and CAFOs has not been particularly beneficial to our rural communities.

I would rather see an emphasis on attracting and supporting young people who are interested in venturing into smaller-scale community-supported agriculture.

Q. Health care is a continuing issue, especially in light of our aging population here in this state. Are there specific health care issues you might champion to help your constituents here in the 28th Assembly District?

A. There’s much to be done in this area.

I think the most pressing need in rural areas is for better access to mental health care.

State government, including especially the Commissioner of Insurance, should be working to improve access to health insurance rather than obstructing it.

Accepting federal Medicaid expansion money would free up $170 million a year of state funds that could be used in any number of ways to improve rural health care.

Q. Are you in favor of raising the minimum wage in the state of Wisconsin? Please explain your stance.

A. Given that a living wage for a family of four with both parents working is currently just over $15 an hour in Polk County, there is little question that the state’s current $7.25 minimum wage is totally out of date.

I would prefer phasing in a higher minimum wage, starting with larger employers (and possibly providing economic support to smaller ones).

I also support a two-tiered minimum wage that differentiates between people who are trying to earn a living versus those who are new to the workforce or have other means of support. Municipalities should be free to establish their own minimum wage laws as long as they meet state minimums.

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Vincent ZilkaVincent R. Zilka

Age: 31

Address: 220 W. Saint George Ave., Grantsburg, WI 54840

Occupation: CNC machinist

Education: Associate Degree

Family: Wife and three kids

Civic involvement: Army veteran

Q. The condition of our roads in this Assembly district and across the state are being questioned in light of the issues surrounding transportation funding. Do you think there should be greater funding for transportation? If so, how do tax increases or budget cuts figure into your solution?

A. We should get rid of the gas tax for residents of the state of Wisconsin and go to miles traveled per year on vehicle registration so that all vehicles are paying a fair share as right now 100 percent electric vehicles are exempt and the increasing gas mileage is preventing us from collecting the necessary funds to finance road projects. There is basic planning and project prioritization that is used in manufacturing that I can bring to the table that the other candidates cannot so we can prioritize between scheduled and unscheduled maintenance and get the state ahead of the curve.

Q. The trend in education appears to be that there are fewer qualified teachers available and fewer dollars being provided for public schools. What is your stance on the funding of education in light of the competition for dollars that has come from the state’s increased funding of voucher schools?

A. We need to stop the funding of voucher and private schools. State agencies need to be audited to show how they spend their finances to look for fraud, waste, and abuse that often runs rampant in government agencies and ensuring that the public’s money is being spent appropriately. We need to set a solid per-student rate that all public schools get despite of locality to ensure the schools have access to the same funding. If schools feel it is necessary to get additional funding by implementing levies then they should be allowed to as it is cheaper than borrowing.

Q. Western and Northeastern Wisconsin historically has been an agriculture-driven economy, but with the decrease in the number of farms in District 28, and the rock-bottom prices for commodities at the present time, what measures will you take to ensure that the farming communities remain viable for years to come?

A. I need to get out and talk to more farmers to see how we can best address the issues facing them, I am not an expert in farming but I am good at solving problems. Maybe we need to start looking into expanding who we are selling commodities to and evaluate how we can get a better return on investment. Wisconsin is known worldwide for having the best cheese and I think that is in a large part due to our dairy farmers so we need to make sure they are getting the support they need.

Q. Health care is a continuing issue, especially in light of our aging population here in this state. Are there specific health care issues you might champion to help your constituents here in the 28th Assembly District?

A. The biggest problem with health care is the pharmaceutical companies (the largest lobbying groups around) dictating drug prices and allowing doctors to promote new drugs even if they may not be what is best for the patients. The only way we will ever break free from high drug prices is allow the free market and competition to dictate prices and for that to happen we need to get elected officials in office that will stand up to them. Let’s start by making it illegal for pharmaceutical companies to give doctors any compensation and bar them from promoting to medical facilities.

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