Three candidates face off on Nov. 3 for the 41st Assembly seat, left vacant by Rep. Joan Ballweg of Markesan, who instead chose to run for state Senate.
Republican Alex Dallman of Green Lake, Democrat Nate Zimdars of Ripon and Independent Jean Bartz of Wisconsin Dells responded to a series of questions posed by USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin.
Dallman won the Aug. 11 Republican primary against challengers Luke Dretske of Berlin, Chuck Harsh of Montello and Gary A. Will of Ripon.
The 41st Assembly District covers much of Marquette, Adams and Green Lake counties as well as areas of Wisconsin Dells and Lake Delton on the west and Ripon on the east.
Members of the Wisconsin Assembly serve a two-year term and are paid $53,000 annually.
Candidates were limited to a 100-word response, and are organized alphabetically.
- Address: 913 Gale Drive, Wisconsin Dells
- Age: 33
- Family: Husband Dan, two daughters and five pets
- Occupation and highest education level: Regional property manager and owner/ broker of Bartz Realty, LLC; Bachelor of Arts degree in history from University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
- Relevant experience: We don’t need another politician who is a cog in our already broken system. We need a non-politician who can start bringing common sense leadership back to our state government. I bring 10-plus years of mediation and negotiation experience to the table, which is highly needed in these extremely partisan times. I have a strong work ethic, the ability to listen and learn even from those with whom I disagree, and I don’t give up. I treat those around me with respect and I lead by example.
- Contact: email@example.com, bartzforassembly.com
- Address: P.O. Box 113, Green Lake
- Age: 28
- Family: Single
- Occupation and highest education level: Outreach representative, Office of Congressman Glenn Grothman; Bachelors of Science, Political Science & American Government, Edgewood College, Madison
- Relevant experience: Outreach representative, constituent services caseworker — Office of Congressman Glenn Grothman; chairman of Green Lake County Republican Party, member of Green Lake County Farm Bureau
- Contact: Dallmanforassembly@gmail.com, alexdallman.com
- Address: 537 Mayparty Drive, Ripon
- Age: 28
- Family: Single
- Occupation and highest education level: Third shift production line associate for Saputo Cheese – Alto Plant. Attended and received an Associate Degree in history from the University of Wisconsin–Fond du Lac
- Relevant experience: Wisconsin Association of FFA state treasurer (2012-2013); member of Ripon FFA Alumni (2012-present), President (2019-present); member of Fond du Lac County Farm Bureau (2013-present), Board of Directors member (2019-present); Vice President of the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault Board of Directors (2018-present); President-elect of Wisconsin FFA Alumni (2019-present); member of the Ripon Area School Board (2019-present); member of the Ripon Community Coalition for Youth Mental Health (2019-present); member of the Ripon Education Foundation (2019-2020)
- Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, zimdarsforwisconsin.com
Why are you running for office?
Bartz: I’m disturbed by the extreme partisanship that grips our legislature. The farther left or right the parties swing, the more people in the districts are left behind. My biggest fear is that we wake up the day after the election and half of the district, whether that’s Democrats or Republicans, feel like they’re silenced for the next two years. I’m a moderate and an Independent and I’m running to make sure that every single person in our district, no matter their political affiliation, has a voice in our government after this election.
Dallman: I am running for office because our state needs fiscal responsibility now, more than ever. We also need representation that will work for the strong conservative values that the 41st District believes in: law and order, personal freedom and less taxes.
Zimdars: I am running because I am called to serve. Rural Wisconsin is being left behind and we need new leadership willing to work across party lines to ensure that our rural spaces continue to be places where anyone can live, work, and truly thrive. I fear the challenges we face will increase in severity unless we have an authentic rural voice with elected experience, deep community involvement, an intimate understanding of agriculture, and fiscal resourcefulness. I am the candidate who will bring this to Madison.
What makes you the better candidate in this race?
Bartz: I am the candidate that can truly work for the people without fear of party retribution. I’m also the only candidate that can truly work across the parties. When you’re a Democrat or a Republican, it’s assumed that you believe certain things and will only vote certain ways because of your party. My vote will always be for the people of my district and my lack of party affiliation means I can cross the aisle without judgement. We need more representatives who are assumed to be on the side of their district rather than on the side of the party.
Dallman: I am the best candidate in this race because my values and beliefs are most in line with the majority of the 41st District. I have dedicated both my professional and volunteer time towards advancing a conservative agenda and electing conservative leaders. The 41st District is very conservative and the people of this district deserve a strong conservative candidate, such as myself, who will fight for their beliefs in Madison.
Zimdars: I have the proven track record needed to represent the whole district. I am the only candidate who has been elected to public office. Our state needs a sound budget during these difficult economic times and I have the necessary experience and proven trust to work with taxpayer dollars. I also grew up and still work in agriculture which is one of our districts and states largest economic sectors. I recognize the value in working across the political aisle because that is who I am and what it will take to work for everyone in the district.
What are residents telling you are their most important issues, and how would you address them?
Bartz: People are scared — of getting sick, losing their jobs or businesses, or of our country becoming unrecognizable. Sometimes of all three. The overtly partisan responses in and by our government are not helping. We need common sense and moderation — standards that protect our health but allow businesses to resume and workers to pay bills; reforms that protect from oppression but support law enforcement; regulations that protect farmers but don’t punish consumers; etc. I would work to bring our legislators back to the table and work for the people again, rather than playing the “who’s winning” game.
Dallman: The most important issues facing the 41st District are the expansion of rural broadband, protecting and preserving agriculture and manufacturing, and coming out of COVID-19 with the least amount of financial harm possible. In Madison, I will seek continued investment into the expansion of rural broadband. I will also seek continued investment into career and technical education so that our next generation has the training and skills needed to succeed in our manufacturing and agricultural sectors.
Zimdars: All the major issues residents are talking about can be connected to the pandemic. Folks need quality broadband to adapt to working and learning virtually. Small businesses need financial support to get back on their feet. Farmers need markets to sell their commodities. As a school board member, I have already worked with our board to provide broadband hot spots to families without internet access and would seek to build on that. There are opportunities to provide continued grants to businesses most affected by the pandemic while working to build a flexible supply chain that benefits our hard-working farmers.
What are top 2 issues Legislature should address?
Bartz: COVID-19 response, farmer protections, and law enforcement policy reform. COVID-19 response needs to not only address testing and medical response, but protection against the financial ramifications like the closing of small businesses, housing stability crisis, and support of the education system (including broadband access issues). Farmer protections need to address overproduction, corporate consolidation and mental health support. Law enforcement reforms need to ensure identification of officers who are not suitable to the field, reducing use of force-related incidents and support and protection of officers in the field (including not passing judgement on an incident before the investigation is complete).
Dallman: The legislature needs to address the budget shortfall that Wisconsin will be experiencing due to COVID-19 shutdown and also the issue of protecting and preserving our agriculture and dairy farms in Wisconsin.
Zimdars: Agriculture and our state budget. Wisconsin agriculture has been hit hard by the pandemic after having endured a difficult agricultural economy for years and we have to do more to support our farmers and the industry as a whole. We also need to address our state budget as we will be writing a new budget in 2021 that has to account for serious revenue loss in a way that doesn’t excessively cut funding or raise taxes through the roof.
What should the Legislature be doing to help address the COVID-19 pandemic?
Bartz: State Legislature should ensure that appropriate and consistent information is distributed to the people, that federal CARES Act monies are being utilized appropriately to protect individuals and small businesses, that state agencies are providing support to those in need (i.e. processing unemployment claims promptly and appropriately), that school systems are adequately supported for both in-person and at-home learning (broadband access should be addressed with a public/private partnership) and that rural areas are considered independently from urban areas given the differences in populations, positive case rates, et cetera.
Dallman: We must be doing all that we can to open the economy back up in the safest manner we can. We cannot allow business to continue to be shuttered, otherwise there will be nothing left to re-open once the pandemic is over.
Zimdars: Our Legislature needs to ensure the proper financial support for the individuals and industries that have been most impacted. Offering additional grants to small businesses that have been hit especially hard and did not receive any support in the original “We’re All In” grant must be considered, especially if the virus spreads and weakens our economy further. The state must have the ability to provide the necessary resources to the counties and health departments that are overwhelmed with cases.
What can it do to help those affected by the pandemic?
Bartz: Small businesses need swift and uncomplicated access to funds to help keep their doors open, payrolls met, and their bills paid, but if a corporation makes a multi million-dollar profit, it is reasonable to expect them to forgo corporate bonuses or reduce profits ratios to cover the cost of these same items. Renters need support when laid off due to illness, closure of their workplace, or the inability to work due to dependent care issues, but landlords need support so they can pay their mortgages/insurance/utilities/etc. Schools need funding to ensure safe learning environments, but also to allow children to learn at home if an outbreak closes the school.
Dallman: The legislature must ensure that we are providing relief in a fiscally conservative manner. The state cannot make quick and rash decisions that will provide short term relief, but create a much larger long-term problem.
Zimdars: The Legislature needs to ensure that the proper safety nets and financial support that have been promised to those so desperately in need are actually making its way to those affected. We have to do more for those struggling to navigate the unemployment system. Providing the necessary relief for those who cannot afford to pay for rent, loans, or other utilities must continue until this pandemic has ended. Also, Wisconsinites need to be assured that they will continue to have access to testing and necessary healthcare if infected.
In your view, how big of a problem is racial injustice and discrimination and what should be done about it?
Bartz: Racial injustice is certainly a problem. Systems in place decades ago have allowed for people of color to be at continued disadvantages in housing, in health care, in the justice system, in education, etc. Reforms can be made to ensure fair and equal treatment, and to ensure that gains are made in eradicating these disadvantages. None can be gone into in detail in the 100 word limit I’ve been given but I’m always happy to discuss further.
Dallman: I believe that the United States is the greatest country on Earth and as a nation we have done more to bring people out of poverty and injustice than any nation in history. Of course the United States has had a troubled past of slavery, but the Republican Party advanced the United States through those trying times and it continues to fight for personal freedom and equality for all men and women under God. We must work together as Americans, not as racially divided groups of society, in order to best reflect the values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for members of all religions, cultures, and ethnic backgrounds.
Zimdars: Racial injustice and discrimination is a significant issue in our state and nation. The police reform bills sent to our governor, with the support of the Legislative Black Caucus and the Wisconsin Police Union, were a good first step in addressing serious issues of concern for communities of color. We must continue to build on this by addressing other disparities in education, employment, and healthcare to name a few. It is my desire to listen, learn and grow as an ally while lifting up voices of color.
Contact Sharon Roznik at 920-907-7936 or email@example.com. Follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/reporterroz/