Dear Editor: Today’s news is suggesting that Tom Barrett would not remove his children from their Milwaukee schools if he were to run for governor and that he would want to spend some time in Milwaukee if he was elected. I suggest that not only could this be a good idea for the governor, it would be a great idea for the rest of the elected state officials as well.
Spending time outside Madison would allow our legislators to spend more time in their districts talking to local businesses, having coffee with seniors, getting involved with the local schools, and getting to know the real problems and the real opportunities in their districts.
I have served on a school board, city council, or as mayor of a community in this state almost continuously since 1982 and I can count on one hand the number of times an elected official actually came to a meeting or sat down to talk with the local elected officials. I have seen countless pieces of legislation passed that would have no doubt benefited from the input of these local officials.
Specifically the qualified economic offer for teachers, tax incremental financing laws, and many of the grants and loans for business all slightly missed their intended mark. Just a little insight could have prevented errors that have had to be fixed or have cost the state real tax dollars, new business, or great teachers.
Wisconsin was founded on the ideal of part-time legislators in touch with their respective communities. While legislators retain residences in their district, the “in touch” factor is, in most cases, simply not there.