Published in DeForest Times-Tribune 10/16/14
The fine candidates’ forum hosted by the DeForest Area Chamber of Commerce and the DeForest Area Library on October 8th highlighted the differences between the Democratic candidates and the Republican candidates in the November 4 election. It confirmed my resolve to vote for all of the Democratic candidates, including the Democratic candidate for governor, Mary Burke.
One of the differences between Democrats and Republicans is the future of education. Democrats oppose spending public tax money on private voucher schools. I agree. We must rally behind our public education system and fund it well with public tax dollars. Education is a community responsibility, not a business.
Another difference is voting. Democrats support widespread voting rights and oppose repressive voting laws. We should encourage voting, not discourage it.
The differences between Democrats and Republicans on environmental protection are stark. Democrats favor local control over water and air regulation with a healthy dose of regulatory backup at the state level from a DNR that represents the people’s interests. Republicans favor weaker water and air rules, so that environmental regulation will interfere less with business. (This is an oddly new generation of GOP from the one that used to work for conservation.)
Another stark difference between Democrats and Republicans appears in response to making Wisconsin a “right to work” state. Democrats favor employees’ right to a collective say in their compensation and work conditions through collective bargaining. Republicans generally oppose collective bargaining. As a long time Democrat myself, of course I lament the demise of public employee collective bargaining and the diminished influence of private sector unions.
The subject of minimum wage brings another difference to the fore between the candidates. Democrats believe that more money in the pockets of wage earners means not only increases in family incomes but also boosts to local economies, as the increased wages are spent at local businesses.
I hope that in this election we can return the influence of the people’s party, the Democratic Party, to the Wisconsin legislature and governorship. Not only is that influence crucial to public education, voting rights, environmental protection, workers’ rights and incomes. It is important in a larger sense to how we see ourselves in community. As Senator Elizabeth Warren says, Deep down, this is a fight about values. We all do better when we work together and invest in the future. That’s why I recommend that you vote for the Democratic candidates: Mary Arnold, Dianne Hesselbein, George Ferriter, Michelle Zahn, and Mary Burke for governor.