County loses as experienced legislators leave Madison

YOURCOUNTY
Jim Baumgart  Sheboygan County Supervisor

State of Wisconsin legislative experience and seniority does matter.

It plays an important roll in committee assignments as well as provides a good understanding of who best to contact to draft bills, obtain fiscal information, knowledge of the different state agencies and a host of other contacts and services to help do the job for the people represented.

While one might smile, even finding where the different restrooms are scattered at the State Capitol or where the important meeting rooms are located is a learning process that takes time.

Why is this important? Because Sheboygan County will lose most of its experienced legislators and it will be a costly loss.

Gone is State Senator Joe Leibham. He had to give up is state senate seat to run for the U.S. Congress. While he is behind by 215 votes as this column is being written and locked in a likely recount election situation, the 9th Senate District will still be open win or lose. Besides giving up his senate seat, our area will lose an experienced legislator who was on the powerful Joint Finance Committee.

Gone (if he holds onto his 215 vote lead in his race for the U.S. Congress) is state Senator Glen Grothman. While he only represents five townships in western Sheboygan County, he was active in meetings with the Sheboygan County Board and department leaders on a monthly basis.

He too was a member of the powerful Joint Finance Committee and, if he hangs onto his lead in the race, he will be off to Washington. .

Gone is Daniel LeMahieu, who is retiring. LeMahieu represents the 59th Assembly District that includes five western townships in Sheboygan County. And, like the above legislators, he too had gained seniority and experience and was a member of the powerful Joint Finance Committee.

How, for example, have these legislators helped Sheboygan County?

When we had a medical issue dealing with a small but threatening county T.B. outbreak, the Sheboygan County Health and Social Services asked for their help and the legislators were able to quickly have the Joint Finance Committee provide up to two million dollars if needed.

Quick action by the county health department and legislators helped to respond and control the T.B. outbreak which in the end also saved money.

Highway LS funding, quick response to Sheboygan County agencies on rules and other issues were also helped by having members on the Joint Finance Committee.

Gone is Steve Kestell. He was Chairman of the Assembly Education Committee.

Schools, both K through 12, college and technical schools play an important roll in the education of our children, funding, rules and more.

In this last session, he took a great deal of heat from his own party when he worked with his Republican counterpart on the Senate Educational Committee to work out compromises with the issue of Common Core Standards. Compromise was not something some legislators were looking for. It took someone with a backbone, experience and understanding of the issue to withstand the politics.

But he too is gone.

Voters need to look at all the candidates running for the state legislature and review their education, background, and experiences.

Only one of the candidates running to replace the legislators listed above has been in the state legislature, former State Representative Terry Van Akkeren.

Besides serving on important assembly committee’s he has also served as Mayor of the City of Sheboygan, been on the Sheboygan County Board, and Sheboygan City Council.


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