LWV questions Assembly District 72 candidates
The League of Women Voters of the Stevens Point area recently sent questionnaires to the two Democratic candidates for Wisconsin Assembly District 72, Russ Brown and David Gorski, in the Tuesday, Aug. 9, primary election.
The questions, and the candidates’ responses, were as follows:
What is your experience and interest in running for the State Assembly?
Brown: I am an organic farmer, the vice president of the Waushara-Adams Farmers Union, I have lobbied in Madison as a member of Family Farm Defenders, the Farmers Union and the League of Conservation Voters. I lobbied on rural issues, education funding, road maintenance, broadband, local control, DNR staffing, and water quality and quantity. I have testified numerous times at public hearings on Factory Farms regarding the environmental impact, health concerns and the protection of property values. Previous to starting our farm I had a 25 year career in banking as a senior vice president of retail, marketing director and commercial lender.
Gorski: I have not previously held political office. However, I have always been a leader. I was my classroom’s student council representative for all four years of high school. As a school counselor for Nekoosa schools, I chaired the Middle School Concept Committee which in cooperation with the building principal development programs and policies to improve the healthy school culture.
I chaired the Alternative Education Committee which developed the framework for our alternative school. High school did not offer summer school courses, so, with the approval of the administration, I developed and facilitated a high school summer school program. I was the president of Nekoosa’s community drug prevention group. I wrote and administered more than $600,000 in grants for Drug Prevention and Alternative Education.
I am interested in restoring the Wisconsin I grew up in. I want us to once again lead the country in environmental protection and education.
Are you concerned about examples of decreasing local control, and if so, what are your concerns?
Brown: Since taking power in 2011, Republicans have passed more than 100 measures that restrict local control. Communities should have the right to determine their local laws and their direction for the future. As residents of a community your local voices are expressed through the decisions made by your local elected officials. This system of local town and county governments has worked for Wisconsin for generations. Our local communities do not need to be micro-managed from Madison, by politicians who are more easily accessible to corporate interests and contributions.
We are all connected, problems in one community can drift to another, and this is the very reason statewide laws are essential. They are necessary to set minimum standards of conduct and protection. They are not necessary to manage local issues and every day actions on our local streets, in our towns or in our counties. For local issues, we have local governments that are accessible and accountable to the local residents.
Gorski: I am very concerned about the loss of local control in our state. Local communities must have the right to protect the health and property value of their residents. Democracy means for the people and by the people. Over the course of Gov. Scott Walker’s administration, the trend is moving toward “by the corporations for the people.” Western Wisconsin communities have lost the right to say “no” to frac sand mining. All over the state communities are trying to protect their water and air from polluting factory farms. In Milwaukee, the locally elected school board is being overruled by politicians that don’t represent the area. We need to restore community rights in Wisconsin.
In order to maintain rural roads, do you think the state should increase funding to augment sounty resources? If so, how?
Brown: Yes, I support sustainable solutions to funding transportation infrastructure projects. I would support a raise in the gas tax and indexing it to inflation.
Gorski: Yes, I do think the state should increase funding for rural roads. We need a temporary statewide excise tax on gasoline. We also need to make sure that those who do the most damage to our roads pay their fair share in maintaining the roads. Let’s place a 10 cents per gallon tax on gasoline and have it sunset when gas reaches $3 per gallon. Before I can say with certainty who needs to pay more, I need to know more about who pays what now and what a fair contribution is.
A study of our groundwater supply recently linked diminishing surface water levels to increased pumping by high-capacity wells. What are your ideas to protect this public resource?
Brown: The Little Plover Study released earlier this year shows that water usage in the area was 80 percent agriculture, 10 percent residential and 10 percent industry. The science is sound. We are not going to solve this issue by taking shorter showers. We will only solve this problem by addressing agriculture’s use of the resource. If we wish to have water in our wetlands, streams, rivers and lakes agriculture will have to reduce its use of the resource. I favor a comprehensive plan that protects the nonagricultural uses of the resource.
Gorski: The Little Plover River Study found three solutions to protect the flow of the river:
A. Within the cone of depression, reduce by 30 percent the total gallons pumped.
B. Eliminate a certain number of wells within the cone of depression.
C. Move a certain number of wells a certain distance from the river.
I believe the facts obtained in the Little Plover River Study are transferable within the Central Sands area. Using the facts obtained from unbiased scientific study is the fairest way of developing new appropriate, responsible and respectful rules and regulations for high capacity wells.
Overall state funding for public schools has been decreasing. In your opinion, are public schools adequately funded? If not, what do you propose to do to help solve this problem?
Brown: Public schools are not adequately funded. We need to stop funding private voucher schools with public funds. We need to guarantee state aid to every student. Hold all schools that receive taxpayer funding to high and equitable accountability standards. Support a grant program for teachers employed by sparsely populated school districts.
Gorski: No, public schools are not adequately funded. First, I would shut down all the failing Parental Choice Schools in Milwaukee and Racine. Many of these schools would be shut down if they were held to the same standards public schools are. Let’s return the money wasted on these unaccountable schools to public schools for wrap-around services in our inner city schools. Secondly, I would call for a moratorium on all new vouchers. Let’s study the 25 experiment and stop spending good money on new failing private schools that drain money from public schools. Finally, we need to develop a more equitable system for statewide public school funding. Suburban, city and rural schools all need to be funded equally.