Wis. Sen. Jim Holperin, D-Conover, said he worked to keep state higher education institutions open during his tenure and a focus on renewable energy.[/media-credit]

Check out a video excerpt from this interview here.

In early March, Sen. Jim Holperin, D-Conover, announced he would not seek re-election after serving more than 30 years as a representative, secretary of tourism and a senator.

Holperin has also faced two recall elections, one over tribal treaty rights when he served in the Assembly and the other in the Senate after leaving the state to delay a vote on a bill repealing collective bargaining rights for public employees. The Badger Herald sat down with Holperin to discuss his career.

The Badger Herald: Why are you leaving the Senate? 

Sen. Jim Holperin: I gave this decision a lot of thought, and when I agreed to run for the Senate four years ago, I talked to my family about it. I had been in the Assembly for many years and I didn’t necessarily want to turn this into a second career, so we thought one term, maybe two, would be, especially at my age, sufficient.

And as the four years wore on, I just thought to myself, I wasn’t in a position to guarantee I could give 100 percent to the job for another four years. I thought to run would be unfair to everybody.

BH: You have the reputation of being the only state legislator in American history to face two recall elections. How do you feel about that reputation?

JH: Well, it’s not something that I’m going to put on my resume, and since the recalls were when I was in two different houses and they were 21 years apart and one was a federal issue and one was a state issue, there was a lot that was different about them. I think it was as much coincidence and happenstance as anything else.

BH: How does it feel to face a recall election?

JH: I always viewed those recall elections as regular elections, because that’s what they are – they’re held the same way. You have two candidates. The voting always takes place the same way. I just viewed them as two more elections that needed to be run and won. I approached the issues the same way. I campaigned the same way. I contacted voters and ran media campaigns the same way as if they were regular elections.

BH: Over your career, how have you pushed benefits to the University of Wisconsin System?

JH: I’ve tried to support the UW System in terms of its budget needs over the years. Obviously I believe strongly in our Wisconsin system of higher education, both the technical college system and the UW System. And so I’ve tried to be supportive of all 26 campuses, keeping all of them and providing for the needs of the UW System.

BH: You mentioned keeping colleges open. Could you elaborate?

JH: There have been consolidations and campus closings. I believe there was a two-year college in Medford, Wis., which was closed, and whenever you talk about the UW budget and economizing, it seems somebody, somewhere along the line, suggests closing a two-year campus or maybe even a four-year campus.

BH: After your term ends in January, what issues does the Legislature need to address?

JH: We’ll see what the main issues are next session, but in terms of environmental initiatives, the pursuit of alternative sources of energy is very important. I think the state ought to increase its required percentage of dependence on renewable sources of power. Right now, it’s 15 percent, this is the year goal for 2015. I think the Legislature should enact legislation which increases this percentage to 20, 25 percent in years hence.

I think utilities with state encouragement, maybe even with state requirement, will be able to meet those goals and it’ll produce a better environment for Wisconsin, a stronger economy, in my opinion, over time.

BH: After your term finishes in January, what do you plan to do?

JH: I’ll be leaving and going back to Eagle River where I was born and raised and my wife and I have a business. We may get another one or do something locally, probably in the area of small business.