BELOIT - Libertarian Reese Wood, 32, is running his first time in office in hopes of not only unseating Democratic incumbent Rep. Mark Spreitzer from the 45th Assembly District, but also increasing civic engagement and educating the community about the Libertarian party.
Wood graduated from Beloit Memorial High School in 2004 and has worked various construction jobs. Most recently he's been working with his brother's tree removal business, delivers newspapers and runs a podcasting business. He and his wife, Ashley, have four children - Lydia, 9, Delia, 5, Vivian, 3, and Lennon, 11 - and a son on the way. The children, who are home schooled, often accompany Wood on his travels to learn from their dad.
Although he's treasurer of the Rock County Libertarian Party and member of the state Libertarian Party, Wood came to the Libertarian beliefs in 2012. He had previously been a Barack Obama supporter because of hopes Obama would get the United States out of its military interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, Wood said he noticed what he considered to be Obama's hypocrisy in his first term.
Wood heard former Texas Senator and Presidential candidate Ron Paul speak in 2012, and was impressed with the message of liberty, meaning personal and economic freedom. He then met others in the Libertarian party.
Wood decided to run against Spreitzer to give voters another option.
Wood said he would be highly visible, responsive and spend most of his time in the district. He hopes to use his experience with social media to be more transparent, keeping the public more updated on local issues and his voting record.
If elected, Wood said his priority would be addressing criminal justice issues. One way to do that would be to legalize cannabis in Wisconsin, but allowing municipalities to have their own referendums to decide whether to allow it.
Wood explained the cannabis plant has a variety of uses. For example, industrial hemp could make school materials or housing. Cannabis can offer medical and recreational offerings and can be a natural alternative for those with serious addictions to substances such as heroin or opioids. Cannabis's many offerings could become an economic engine for the area with money which could go directly to local governments for education, infrastructure and healthcare to name a few.
"Cannabis has a very serious future in our state. But we are not going to get there by kicking the can and not having a discussion about it," he said.
The legalization of cannabis would also result in less people being incarcerated, and give people the freedom to choose their consumption habits.
Wood said he would focus more on the district.
Although Spreitzer served last session as Assembly Democratic Caucus Chairman and attended a variety of leadership programs and conferences, Wood said he believes the representative should spend more time in the district focused on local issues.
"There's nothing I need outside of this district that would require me needing taxpayer funding," Wood said.
Wood believes his Libertarian ideas have strong support. He's interviewed more than 2,000 people in the past three years for podcasts and community radio.
"I know people have concerns about a range of issues not being addressed by our representatives," he said.
Although Wood would do things differently, he said he likes Spreitzer and has invited him to three virtual town hall meetings which will be visible via links on his Facebook page "Reese Wood for Wisconsin Assembly" and at the Beloit Family Reunion event.