New faces will be representing us in Madison

A T LEAST HE DIDN’T have to apply for unemployment benefits. Two days after resigning the seat he held in the state Senate for 12 years – and gave up to make an agonizingly close unsuccessful run for the U.S. House of Representatives – Joe Leibham of Sheboygan announced that he has a new job.

Leibham will be taking a position with the law firm of Foley & Lardner, starting Jan. 1., managing the state government relations practice of the state’s largest law firm.

The job is a perfect fit for Leibham and will keep him in the middle of the political action in Madison, where he has served Sheboygan County and the surrounding area diligently and professionally for the past 16 years – 12 years in the state Senate and four before that in the Assembly.

Leibham is one of four area legislators who will not be returning to Madison when the state Legislature reconvenes Jan. 5. Along with Leibham, Republican Assemblymen Mike Endsley (26th District), Steve Kestell (27th District) and Daniel LeMahieu (59th District) all did not run for re-election in November and all three Assembly districts in the county will have new representatives in Madison come next year.

All have served well and honorably in the state capital.

While some may have disagreed with their politics or ideology, all ably reflected the views of the majority of their constituents who sent them to Madison, in some cases many, many times.

And all performed ably one of the most important aspects of any legislator, whatever their party – providing service to their constituents, working for them and on their behalf in dealings with state government, departments and agencies.

Leibham, for one, followed in a long line of able state Senators from Sheboygan County over the past half century, a list from both sides of the aisle that includes fine public servants such as Ernest Keppler, Carl Otte, Bill TeWinkle, Cal Potter and Jim Baumgart.

Now, Sheboygan County will have a new set of faces representing us in Madison – Devin LeMahieu in the state Senate and Terry Katsma, Justin Vorpagel and Jesse Kremer. They will have a huge legacy to live up to.

There will be a learning period for all of them in Madison, but at least LeMahieu and Vorpagel have some previous experience in other legislative arenas – LeMahieu as an effective member of the Sheboygan County Board for many years, Vorpagel as a top aide for several years for outgoing U.S. Rep. Tom Petri, R-Fond du Lac.

They will do well for us if they simply follow the example of service and professionalism set by their many predecessors in those seats in the State Capitol in Madison.

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