My column for the Washington County Daily News is online. Incidentally, I voted absentee yesterday and there were a surprising number of people there. There were 6 other voters in the 5 to 8 minutes I was there. Obviously, one can’t extrapolate turnout based on such an anecdotal experience, but it does make me wonder if there is an unexpected surge of interest in this race. In any case, here’s the column:
The voters of the 58th Assembly District will decide on who will represent them in Madison after the unexpected death of Representative Bob Gannon. After a spirited, if abbreviated, primary election, Republican Rick Gundrum and Democrat Dennis Degenhardt will square off on January 16th in a special election. I had the opportunity to speak with both candidates, and fortunately for the voters, we are able to choose between two fundamentally decent men with starkly different perspectives.
Dennis Degenhardt recently retired from being the CEO of Glacier Hills Credit Union after a career spent in financial services. He and his wife have been married for 22 years, have four children, six grandchildren, and have been residents of the 58th for many years. Degenhardt has been active in the community as the Vice Chair of the Washington County Democratic Party, President of the Washington County Campus Foundation, involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters, and several other community organizations. This is Degenhardt’s first run for political office.
Rick Gundrum owns his own audio and video production business after spending years as in the radio industry. He and his wife have been married for 25 years, have two children, four grandchildren, and is a 5th generation resident of Washington County. Gundrum has been active in the community as a Trustee on the Slinger Village Board, Chairman of the Washington County Board, and various county committees.
When people idealize about self-governance, this is the kind of election they envision: two good people with decades of experience and service to their community stepping forward to represent their neighbors in the legislature. The voters of the 58th do not have to hold their noses and choose the lesser of two evils or stomach a scoundrel for political goals. Instead, the voters of the 58th get to truly choose their next representative based on the candidate’s views on the issues and the role of government in their lives.
Dennis Degenhardt wants a larger, more robust, more comprehensive government to manage our economy, healthcare, education, and other aspects of life. He thinks that Governor Walker erred in rejecting the Medicaid expansion that was part of Obamacare and believes that Wisconsin could lead on healthcare with its own healthcare exchange. Degenhardt supports vigorous regulations on business to fight against potential abuse.
Degenhardt would like to see more taxpayer money send on education, but believes that School Choice siphons off too much money from the public school system. On transportation, he would like to see the bidding process be more competitive, but is then open to additional taxes and toll roads to fund Wisconsin’s transportation infrastructure. Degenhardt thinks that the Foxconn deal is a great mistake and would have joined the majority of Democrats in voting against it had he been in the legislature at the time.
On civil rights, Degenhardt would have voted against the bill that allowed concealed carry in Wisconsin, but is resigned to it being the law of the land. He opposes any liberalization of the concealed carry law. Degenhardt is Pro-Choice believing that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.
Rick Gundrum believes in a smaller, less expensive, and less intrusive government. He supports a lighter regulatory burden on businesses and people with more decisions being made by local governments. Gundrum touts his experience on the Washington County Board in reducing costs though finding efficiencies and collaborating on services with other counties.
Gundrum wants to see lower taxes so that people can keep more of their own money. He supports Governor Walker’s agenda on taxes, spending, regulatory reform, government reform, education, and other items. Gundrum wants to see the state government work with local governments to aggressively address the opioid crisis through treatment options and rigorous law enforcement. Gundrum is pro-2nd Amendment, supports school choice, and is staunchly Pro-Life.
I will be gladly casting my vote for Rick Gundrum because he is a good man who promises to fight for the kind of government I want to have.
Whatever your choice, citizens of the 58th need to get out and vote. In-person absentee voting is open until January 12th and the election is on January 16th. Although the 58th Assembly District is overwhelmingly Republican, if there was ever to be an election where a Democrat might win, this is it. The Democrats are energized and Degenhardt is a quality candidate.
As a special election in the middle of a cold January, turnout will likely be less than 15%. Only 10.56% of the voters turned out last month for the special primary election. That means that perhaps less than 5,000 people will vote in this election and will decide who will represent the citizens of the 58th in Madison. Get out and vote, folks.