This is the sixth part in a series profiling members of the Wisconsin State Legislature.
Since Rep. Gregg Underheim, R-Oshkosh, was elected to the state Assembly's 54th District in 1987, he has been an active advocate for education and health care reform.
Born and raised in La Crosse, Underheim said politics were a part of his life growing up.
"My mom and dad hosted a campaign fundraising party at our house … People were always talking about politics," he said of his early interest in politics.
During his past 19 years in political office, Underheim said he has enjoyed working to improve health care transparency while making health care more affordable and available to consumers.
"The considerable responsibilities [of being a state representative] make life interesting and meaningful every day," he said of his advocacy towards multiple causes.
Besides advocating health care issues, Underheim — a former high school English teacher — also serves on the Assembly Committee on Colleges and Universities.
Underheim noted it is "an honor" to serve on the committee.
"I've enjoyed the committee obligations as someone who represents a college town," he said, referring to his district of Oshkosh, which encompasses the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
Committee co-member Rep. Louis Molepske, D-Stevens Point, emphasized Underheim's importance to the committee.
"Rep. Underheim contributes to the dialog and discussion of the committee in a very sincere manner," he added. "Representing a college town brings the perspective of seeing the consequences of legislation on a university a week after it's passed."
Recently, Underheim has received publicity for being the only Republican to vote against Assembly Joint Resolution 67/Senate Joint Resolution 53, otherwise known as the constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage and civil unions.
"I voted the right way," Underheim said. "The Constitution is a document designed to protect people from their government, not to single out individuals based on their private lives."
Organizations have taken notice and even commended Underheim for his efforts regarding AJR 67/SJR 53.
The UW-Oshkosh organization The Coalition Against the Amendment recently recognized their representative's vote on the measure.
"Rep. Underheim delivered a passionate speech," CAA spokesperson Greta Voit said. "He took a very brave stance on the issue and deserved the recognition he received."
Underheim said he appreciated the recognition "a great deal."
Even opposing party politicians spoke up about Underheim's stance on the issue.
"I think Rep. Underheim vocally represented those in the majority party that were silent on the issue and more likely would have voted against it had they had support from their party," Molepske said.
Rep. Spencer Black, D-Madison, also commended Underheim for breaking party lines and not caving to Republican pressure.
"To [Underheim's] credit, he is willing to be more independent of his leadership in the Assembly," Black said. "[Underheim] votes his conscience rather than what leadership wants."
While Underheim said he has enjoyed his time as an elected official "very much," he has decided not to run for reelection next term.
"I've had enough of the campaigning," he said, adding he is "tired of it all."
When asked about his plans for the future, Underheim simply stated he would like to "find a job and live happily ever after."
And after reflecting over the past 19 years in political office, Underheim said it has been very fun and rewarding.
"I don't always get my way, but my voice matters … on the things I care about … and I'm in the fight," he said.