LWV distributes questionnaire for Assembly District 70 candidates
The League of Women Voters (LWV) of the Stevens Point Area recently distributed a questionnaire of four questions to Assembly District 70 candidates Mark Holbrook, Democrat, and Nancy VanderMeer, Republican. The two candidates are competing for the Assembly District 70 seat up for election Tuesday, Nov. 8.
However, VanderMeer did not answer the LWV’s questionnaire. The questions and Holbrook’s answers are as follows:
What in your background prepares you to serve in the Wisconsin Assembly?
I served for six years in the U.S. Army as a commissioned officer, leaving the Army as a captain. I commanded an aero-scout unit while in Vietnam. I worked as an industrial manager for a multinational corporation for four-plus years. I taught vocational agriculture for three years in the Tri-County School District.
I worked as a school psychologist in the Pittsville School District for 10 years working with students, families and staff to assist in the development of appropriate educational plans for students in need of special assistance. I worked as an educational administrator for the last 14 years of my career working with teachers and other staff members to create better learning environments and methods of instruction.
I think that because of my experience in the military, industry, my chosen career field in public education, my service to our nation and our communities, and a sincere interest in continuing my service, I am well prepared to represent the people of the 70th Assembly District.
State funding for public schools has decreased in recent years and tax dollars have gone to students to attend private schools with vouchers. What will you do to support public education going forward?
I will work hard to return tax dollars that have been siphoned out of the public schools in the last six years, and work to put in place a method of measuring the effectiveness of the private schools that receive state tax dollars supported vouchers.
If private schools are going to receive state tax dollars to educate children, they need to be as accountable to the public as our public schools. We cannot think for one moment that the loss of over $2.5 billion isn’t going to have a long-term detrimental effect on our schools.
All we need to do is look at California’s experience. Before Proposition 13 was passed, which severely cut funding to their public schools, California public schools were considered among the best in the nation. Today, California is rated 47th in the nation. Is that what we have in mind for our schools?
Already we are beginning to see teacher shortages as schools try to fill vacancies. We see schools bidding higher and higher salaries to hold onto veteran teachers, and losing young teachers to higher paying, larger school districts after gaining a few years of experience. How can our schools maintain the quality of education we expect when they cannot hold on to their proven, veteran teachers, and how long can we see some of our best candidates take positions in districts out of our state because we cannot compete given the bind that Act 10 and our state Legislature has created for us?
Maintenance and new roads are needs in our district and state. What are your priorities and how will you address the problem?
There is only one priority we can have when it comes to our infrastructure: fix it. Let’s look at this realistically, we can have the best trained, most qualified workforce in the nation, but if we have infrastructure deficits that make transporting and delivering goods and service to the public difficult, what company is going to move their business into our state?
The governor wants to put off many of these projects for the future so he can claim he didn’t raise our taxes, but at what cost to the public? We all know that price increases are a natural economic development over which we have little control. So, the governor puts off multi-million dollar projects today that will undoubtedly cost our taxpayers more millions of dollars in the future. Where is the logic in that very political decision?
We have not raised licensing fees in our state since 2008 and registration fees since before that, so I don’t think it is unrealistic to ask our citizens to accept an increase that may begin to take us down the road to repairing our highways and bridges. We may also need to do some short-term borrowing to get the job done, but the up side is we have better highways, safer bridges, sewers and water treatment facilities that meet the needs of our communities, and, in the process, puts many of our citizens to work in the construction industry rebuilding Wisconsin. Remember, no one is going to come into Wisconsin and do this for us. We are solely responsible for the quality of life we want, so let’s get it done.
What role does the University System play in economic development in Wisconsin?
I know of no other state supported entity that has as significant an impact on the economy and economic future of our state as the University of Wisconsin System. We have to ask ourselves, would we be the nation’s Dairy State if researchers at our university had not been available to make the discoveries that they then passed on to farmers in our state that led to improvements in dairy herd management, genetic improvement in dairy breeds, crop management, farm management, nutritional management, herd health, etc.?
If an economist sat down today and tried to measure the past impact of this university on the economics of Wisconsin, I believe it would be a near impossible task. And, we have to remember, all this was made possible because our fathers and mothers of past generations had the foresight to make the sacrifice necessary to build a world-class university. They had an endearing and enduring understanding of the benefits of educating our children and providing the research that would, in the long run, benefit them and the state.
So how can we stand by and allow politicians in our state attempt to make political hay by destroying what our fore-bearers created? If we want to guarantee our economic future, there is probably no better investment to make than in our schools, whether K-12 or the university.