BELOIT - Libertarian Reese Wood is challenging incumbent Rep. Mark Spreitzer, D-Beloit, in the race for the 45th Assembly District.
There is no Republican candidate.
Spreitzer said he wants an economy that works for everyone. If re-elected he said he plans to reintroduce bills to create a paid family leave insurance program and program to refinance student loan debt. He wants to raise the minimum wage, make childcare more affordable and retirement saving easier. He also would like to see more invested in education, transportation, high-speed internet while protecting the environment and working across the aisle. Wanting to empower people in democracy, he hopes to end partisan gerrymandering and promote open meetings and open records laws, noting he sponsored a bill requiring party caucuses be subject to open meeting laws. He's hoping Democrat Tony Evers will defeat incumbent Republican Gov. Scott Walker, so divided government might force compromise. Republicans have controlled the governor's office and both houses of the legislature since the 2010 election.
"It will give us the opportunity to pass a non-partisan map," Spreitzer said.
He's opposed to certain unsustainable business incentives offered to Foxconn or Kimberly-Clark, instead opting for one-time incentives repaid in the short term by business taxes.
He'd be OK with decriminalizing cannabis and using it for medical purposes, but is waiting until results are in from the cannabis advisory referendum in November in Rock County before deciding if he would promote full legalization.
Spreitzer, 31, was first elected to the Wisconsin Assembly in 2014, and served as Democratic Caucus Chair for the 2017-2018 legislative session and served on eight committees and one subcommittee.
Spreitzer was on the Beloit City Council from April 2011 to April 2015, and president from April 2014 to April 2015. He previously worked as assistant director of alumni and parent relations and annual support for Beloit College. He is one of four openly gay members of the state legislature. Spreitzer is engaged to fiance Philip Gorman.
Libertarian Reese Wood, 32, is running to promote civic engagement and to schedule a series of monthly town hall meetings to engage all areas of the district such as Evansville, Brodhead, Juda, Orfordville, the townships and beyond.
"We want to set a new standard for engagement and make the 45th District an example of how to do politics," he said.
He said he's looking at a two-year term in office where he would gather public input to set an agenda.
Wood said he will use his experience with social media to be more transparent, and keep the public more updated on local issues and his voting record.
"Civic engagement is number one. I would do a series of town halls, and put them out on web," Wood said.
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, delivering newspapers and running a podcasting business. He and his wife, Ashley, have five children - Lydia, 9, Delia, 5, Vivian, 3, and Lennon, 11, and new baby Reese James Wood.
If elected, Wood said he would also focus on criminal justice issues. One way to do that would be to legalize cannabis in Wisconsin, by allowing municipalities to have their own referendums to decide whether to allow it. The legalization of cannabis would result in less people being incarcerated, and give people the freedom to choose their consumption habits.
"Our prisons are outdated and we are incarcerating too many people," Wood said.
Wood said the cannabis plant has a variety of uses and its many offerings could become an economic engine for the area with money which could go directly to local governments for education, infrastructure and healthcare.
He estimated the legalization of cannabis could generate millions of dollars within five years, and he wants to see the people in Wisconsin prosper from the economic benefits of an untapped industry.