State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.
Last month, I had eleven town halls throughout state Senate District 28. I made a point to vary the meetings between daytime and evening, weekday and weekend. It was my goal that any constituent wanting to attend had an opportunity to do so.
Some venues were better attended than others, and each provided an opportunity to keep my hand on the pulse of our district and provide constituents with news about state issues. From Waterford to Big Bend, Greenfield to Franklin, Franklin to Vernon, Senate District 28 residents came armed with a range of questions, comments, and concerns. However, the issues of recall elections and mining legislation were brought up more than any other, and I want to address each for those not at the meetings.
Wisconsin seems to be stuck in a perpetual election cycle. Between the presidential race and the state recalls, it’s difficult to escape the advertising and talking heads. Many residents have simply had enough, and at the town halls voiced strong opposition for ongoing recall elections.
Indeed, prior to 2010, there were just over 20 recall elections for state legislators during US history. After the June 5 elections, Wisconsin will add 13 more to that list. While there are just over 20 recall elections in all of US history, Wisconsin will have 13 recall elections within 12 months.
Besides the often annoying onslaught of political advertisements, residents speaking on this issue centered on a common theme, namely, that citizens elect their officials to serve a full term. Recalling representatives for policy decisions detracts from the value of regularly scheduled elections. Most agreed recalls should remain an option; however, only for a good reason like dereliction of duty or a criminal offense.
I agree with my constituents: recalls are out of control in this state. It is my hope that starting with the next legislative session Democrats and Republicans can come together and reform our recall laws. I do not believe that the recall provisions in the state constitution and statutes were intended to be used in this manner, and the legislature would be wise to include a controlling mechanism.
The second common theme I heard from constituents is disappointment over the failure of the mining bill. Once again, I share my constituents’ frustration.
The bill would have enabled Wisconsin to take advantage of iron deposits up north, the same deposits currently providing good paying jobs and revenue in Minnesota. Unfortunately, the bill approved by the Assembly and that I co-sponsored failed by one vote on the Senate floor.
I was joined at the New Berlin and Greenfield town halls by Representative Mike Kuglitsch, a member of the Select Committee on Mining Jobs. He reiterated his support for the proposal, and we both hope that we will be able to finish the work on this bill and bring thousands of jobs to Wisconsin.
I appreciated hearing from constituents on all of the issues discussed during the Town Hall Meetings. It is clear that our state remains politically charged. I appreciate that citizens took time out of their day to help achieve democracy in action. Thank you to all attending the Meetings.