Hungry for Change

Jon Richards

Democratic Attorney General candidate Jon Richards brought his campaign to Door County on July 10 with his message that Wisconsin residents are ready for change. Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced last October that he would not seek a third term.

“The whole state is hungry for a change,” he said while at the Democratic Party of Door County BBQ at Sawyer Park in Sturgeon Bay. “Everywhere I go, big towns and small towns, people really want to have a change in Wisconsin, especially in the attorney general’s office. In these times when we’re addressing serious questions about the environment, marriage equality, about voting rights, the attorney general is right in the middle of all those decisions. The people of Wisconsin want an attorney general that is going to stand with them and fight for their values.”

Richards, 50, has an interesting résumé that includes teaching English in Japan and working as a volunteer with Mother Teresa in Calcutta, India. He served as a community special prosecutor in the Kenosha County District Attorney’s office, and has won a number of environmental and conservation awards.

In 1998 he was elected to the Wisconsin Assembly, representing the 19th District in Milwaukee. He served as assistant minority leader from 2003 to 2007. He was also the co-author of the Great Lakes Compact, which details management of the Great Lakes Basin for the eight Great Lakes states. President George W. Bush signed the compact into law on Oct. 3, 2008.

“The environment is a particular passion of mine,” Richards said. “It’s a huge issue, especially the Great Lakes. We need to do all we can to ensure clean water and clean air, stop invasive species from coming in, make sure no one can take our natural resources, especially our Great Lakes.”

Richards said one of the big issues he has also been talking about on the campaign is making it harder for people who have no business owning guns to get their hands on them.

“We currently have laws on the books saying that if you’ve been found to be a felon, if you have a judge order you for domestic abuse, our law says you can’t have a gun. Too many people go online or go to gun shows and skirt the law. We need to make sure that the law applies to everybody, and that is something I’ll be advocating for,” he said.

Asked if that isn’t a tough sell in Wisconsin, he said, “We need to respect the 2nd Amendment and make sure we honor people’s rights to hunt and fish. At the same time, we need to make sure that we’re all safe. I know personally so many gun owners who are NRA members who agree with that position. I feel most people in Wisconsin feel that is the way we should be going.”

Richards said it is time for outside monied interests to stop wielding influence on Wisconsin issues.

“We need to have an attorney general who is going to stand up for people, especially in this era of Citizens United,” he said. “Wealthy people seem to have unlimited power. We need someone to stand up for consumers and middle class families. That’s what I plan on doing. It’s what I’ve done in 15 years of public life and what I intend to continue doing as attorney general.”

Richards is in a three-way primary race on Aug. 12 with two other Democrats – Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne and Jefferson County District Attorney Susan Happ.

Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel is also running for attorney general on the Republican ticket.