Everyone deserves good healthcare. Expanding Medicaid in Wisconsin could help many in the Northwoods when it comes to making ends meet, especially with inflation and gas prices where they are due to corporate price gouging.

When it comes to healthcare choices, everyone should be able to access the healthcare they need for the circumstances they are in. This especially applies to a woman’s right to choose whether to continue a pregnancy. Any decisions with regard to pregnancy should be between her, her healthcare team, and her God. Government should not have a say in those decisions.

Gun Reform:

I want to start this section by saying No, I don’t want to come and take away your guns. Our household owns guns, stores them properly, and they are only used when hunting or on the shooting range. We do not own military-style rifles and have no plans to own them.

There are common sense ways to make sure law-abiding Wisconsinites can own guns while ensuring it is harder for bad actors to acquire them. Red flag laws, stronger background checks, waiting periods, and a state/national registry of firearms should not be a problem for those who want to legally own guns. Military-style rifles with high-capacity cartridges should be much more difficult to attain than a hunting rifle. Ideally, they should only be in the hands of the military. They were designed to kill humans.

One way to look at it is this – if the constitution said it is a person’s right to own pets, we would not assume this includes lions. Only certain people who are specifically trained to care for and interact with lions should be allowed to have them. They would also have to let the local authorities know they have the lion. You may WANT to own a lion just for fun, but you shouldn’t be allowed to walk into a pet store and out with a lion on the same day.

In the same way, the “right to bear arms” does not specify which arms individuals should be allowed to bear. When the 2 nd amendment was written, there was no way to predict how volatile and deadly arms would become. Single shot, muzzle-loading rifles and pistols were the state of the art back then.

School Funding:

Everyone knows the formula for school funding in Wisconsin is “broken”. Especially for rural communities like Oneida and Vilas counties where we are “property rich but tax poor”. A property-value system of funding for schools makes the assumption that property owners are full-time residents who use the school system and will vote YES on school referendums that increase property taxes when they come up for a vote. All of us who have been through round after round of referendums being shot down understand the need for a funding system that helps our schools get the money needed to attract good teachers, maintain programs that enhance the school experience, and maintain facilities and school equipment. Schools should not have to ask their teachers to spend their own money to equip classrooms or provide students with basic necessities.

Clean Water:

Water is not only central to good health, it’s also a central part of our recreational activities in the Northwoods. Boating and fishing are key tourist draws to our towns. Healthy water systems mean healthy residents and a healthy tourist economy.

You are probably aware there are parts of the world where tourists will be told “don’t drink the water!” Imagine if that were a warning given to tourists coming to the Northwoods to vacation? PFAS in our groundwater is present at staggering levels, such that wells in Rhinelander had to be closed in 2020 and remain closed today. Stronger regulations and standards regarding PFAS contamination need to be set and enforced. Several bi-partisan bills have been passed by the assembly (with the current incumbent not only NOT sponsoring or co-sponsoring the bills, but voting NO on them as well), but have died in the Wisconsin Senate. The only bill to pass only addressed fire-fighting foam, which is only a small part of the problem. While it included $10 million in grants to help communities, it also included lawsuit immunity for companies who are found to be the source of that contamination. 12 Funding research and implementation of ways to remove PFAS from water systems before it reaches households, as well as helping companies who may be part of the problem change their practices to end the contamination at the source, needs to happen sooner than later. Grants should NOT tie the hands of the cities when it comes to doing what’s best for the people who live there.

Many more communities are starting to test for PFAS contamination and so far, the results are not good. The sooner we can find solutions to this problem and make sure all the water that comes out of taps in Wisconsin is clean and drinkable, the better off we will all be. By not allowing these grant recipients to also go after the source of the contamination in order to further fund remediation is unconscionable.

As a note of interest, Vilas County has the highest cancer rate in the state. Oneida County has the second-highest.3 Cancer is one of the very real conditions associated with PFAS contamination, along with neurological, heart, and kidney issues.4

Housing Crisis:

It’s very clear there is a lack of affordable housing in both Oneida and Vilas counties. Soaring real estate costs have priced many families out of purchasing their first home, leaving them searching for rentals which don’t exist or which are also priced too high for them to survive. And we wonder why we can’t attract young professionals to the Northwoods? Why we can’t get good teachers, keep good medical practitioners, or attract new businesses? When people complain about lack of employees, consider we might have more if they had a good, solid place to live.

Several bills were passed in the assembly last year aimed at “workforce housing”5 – they passed on Republican votes alone. The problem with these bills is they limited local government’s abilities to enforce assessment rules.

Human Rights:

Everyone, regardless of age, gender identification, race, religion, social standing, or disability, deserves representation, and their rights should be protected and defended. Those particularly vulnerable to discrimination such as those in the LGBTQ+ community, people of color, and those who are experiencing homelessness, need a voice. Nobody should feel “less than” based on circumstances beyond their control. It’s unconscionable that in 2022, people are still be treated less than equal based entirely on the color of their skin or their sexual orientation.