Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Assembly hopefuls battle for open seat, endorsement from state Dems

Five candidates for the seat held by Rep. Spencer Black, D-Madison, spoke about their conservation ideas at the forum.[/media-credit]

Five Democratic candidates vying to replace a retiring Madison assemblyman faced off in a forum Wednesday hosted by the Democratic Party of Dane County.

Candidates Dianne Hesselbein, Brett Hulsey, John Imes, Fred Wade and Doug Zwank fielded questions about a number of topics, with the top issue being the continuation of outgoing Rep. Spencer Black’s commitment to environmental conservation.

“The lakes aren’t very good … and I think we should set a goal that we should be able to see [our] feet standing in chest deep water,” Imes said, who is executive director of the advocacy group Wisconsin Environmental Initiatives.


Both Wade, a local attorney, and Hulsey, a current Dane County Board supervisor, echoed the need for cleaner lakes by reducing groundwater pollutants such as phosphorus fertilizers and expired prescription pills.

Hesselbein, also a Dane County Board supervisor, agreed with the need for clean lakes and elaborated on her land conservation efforts in the city of Middleton as well as at the county level.

Zwank also promoted his conservation efforts in Middleton, where he served as mayor and alderman, and highlighted the need to find the necessary funding for any environmental projects as well as other state programs without adding to the budget problems.

In the vein of conservation and green projects, both Hulsey and Hesselbein pushed green job creation to improve the state’s economy.

However, Hulsey and Hesselbein differed on their opinion of the immediate need for the revival of the Clean Energy Jobs act, a pet bill of Gov. Jim Doyle that failed in the last legislative session.

“Last year, prior to the Clean Energy Jobs Act, I worked with grocers around the state to create 900 new jobs, reduce air pollution 4 million pounds and create about 50 megawatts of capacity,” Hulsey said.

Imes, Zwank and Wade also weighed in on job creation and retention.

They pointed to the need for an improved business climate in the state and incentives for start-up businesses and companies offering jobs with better pay.

Candidates also voiced their opinions on education in the state, both at the grade school and university level.

“We have to recognize the university is the engine for economic growth in the future. We have 26 percent of Wisconsin adults with college degrees. We need more college graduates,” Wade said.

The event also honored Black for his efforts in the state Legislature, with county Democrats chair Wayne Bigelow declaring Black the Democrat of the Year for 2010.

Black said he was honored to be a part of Madison and Dane County as well as the Democratic Party.

Black said both of these entities have been a factor in all major progressive social change in the country.

Black would not, however, give his endorsement to a specific candidate.

He told The Badger Herald all of the candidates are worthy and will do good work in the Legislature.

Senate President Fred Risser, D-Madison, who was on hand for the event and also refused to give an endorsement to a particular candidate, said he looks forward to working closely with any of the candidates.

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