To get you up to speed .. Democratic candidate Andy Feldman sent me an email, responding to some thoughts I had written about last week. I posted them, but he later asked for them to be taken down. I posted a retraction, explaining what had occurred, which, let's face it, didn't look good.
So Feldman took some time and re-wrote his original email to me. I painstakingly compared the two versions to determine what had changed .. what would he write privately that wouldn't be for public consumption? The answer: not much. He's removed a couple of minor items aimed at other candidates, and re-phrased his Sales Tax answer, reduced a few casual sentences to more formal ones, and in general, increased the eloquence (and puff) factor here and there.
In my opinion, almost nothing of substance has changed .. and I will publish it in its entirety, below. I wish this situation would have unfolded differently. Now you know I'm not playing favorites.
I continue to invite the other three candidates to respond, as well. With the dearth of media coverage for this race, blog traffic is running 2-3x average, so your words would get to far more eyeballs than "doing doors" for a week.
-------- Original Message --------
|Subject:||Re: 22nd Assembly Race..updates|
|Date:||Sat, 30 Aug 2008 11:56:12 -0500|
|From:||Andy Feldman <>|
Here's the e-mail I sent you a few nights ago. I edited a few sentences to make things more clear -- when I e-mailed you past midnight a few days ago, I wrote it quickly not thinking you'd post it. But I really do appreciate you posting my words, since you're right: We need more ways for voters to find out about the candidates! That's why I sent you the e-mail two days ago, and that's why I'm glad you're sharing it with others now.
I wanted to reply to your comments on the blog, since I'd like your vote! In a close race like this, I'm working hard to earn every vote.
Am I the most liberal candidate? It's hard to tell, since I'm the only one who had three hour-long community forums on education, health care, and the environment in which I discussed my views in detail.
But my hunch is that my views fit with moderates across the district. In fact, I've made reducing partisanship a theme of my campaign. I want to work with moderates in both parties to get thing done, since right now the two parties are talking past each other. By temperament, I'm someone who likes to listen to different views and find common ground.
Moreover, a focus of my career has been on government efficiency--something that is important to people of all political stripes. I spent a year helping lead an initiative to get state employee input into saving taxpayer money and improving efficiency. We ended up with over 750 recommendations from 89 agencies. I've also taught public management, about how to make government work better. I do think we need to spend more in some areas, like education and public transportation, but I also think we could do a lot to make government more efficient with what we currently spend. And I have unique experience in doing that.
As for my policy stances, a few required more explanation:
* Healthcare. You mentioned that healthcare reform should ideally occur at the federal level. I agree. But many presidents have tried to pass national healthcare reform and most have failed. That's why my stance is that WI should be ready to act if the feds don't. We can't accept the status quo -- not with healthcare costs 25% above the national average, hurting people's pocketbooks and business competitiveness. We have a homegrown model worth strongly considering in Healthy WI that has produced high quality, lower cost care in Dane County (the model on which HW is based). Insurance companies compete for 'tier 1' status of high quality, lower cost, harnessing competition for the good of consumers. If it's good enough for your state rep, I think it should be good enough for everyone.
* Nuclear. Nuclear has some useful advantages, and it's not that I'd rule out ever easing restrictions. But so far there haven't been any good solutions to waste disposal and costs. And as a side note, I do think the debate over a new nuclear plant is a bit of a distraction. The folks I trust on this issue see no chance that WI will consider one in the next 10 years. That's why my focus is on new ways to conserve energy and develop renewable sources in the near term.
* School choice. My priority is with the public schools. Our public schools made me who I am, and I will work hard to keep them strong and improve MPS. But I think it's important to be realistic: The choice program is here to stay for the near term. That's why we need to improve it, including better accountability so that we know student results, and a level playing field so that choice schools can't cream by choosing not to serve special needs kids. To me, that's good government.
* Sales tax. I think any candidate, whether Democrat or Republican, needs to be fiscally conservative, meaning ensuring value for the tax money. As I said before, I've got first-hand experience doing that. And any good steward of public money will look for ways to use existing funds to pay for needs before considering new taxes. My point about a sales tax increase is that I wouldn't take it off the table. The reason: We need to keep up our infrastructure or else the world will pass us up. Why do companies settle somewhere? Access to trained workers, and quality of life for employees, are the top reasons. I believe strongly that if we short change our parks and public transit and civic life, including our schools, we have no chance at being on the map for young professionals and entrepreneurs. They'll continue to go to Minneapolis and Portland and Boston.
To sum up... My commitment is to reviving our Wisconsin's progressive tradition -- not big government, but good government. And to working across party lines to get thing done. That's why I've gotten support across the district and gain new supporters everyday.
All the candidates in the race are smart and well-intentioned, and all will likely vote in similar ways. But we have the chance this election to put someone in the Assembly who has the policy and public service background to become a leader in passing the legislation we need to revive our progressive tradition -- someone who has already worked on a range of policy issues, and who will work with moderates across parties lines to build consensus to get things done. I've spent my career helping make government work better and improve public policy. Now I want to use that background in the Assembly to serve my home district and WI.
I'd really appreciate your support.
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