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Wisconsin Senate Race, District 1

André Jacque (incumbent) vs. Andrea Gage-Michaels

We sent questionnaires to candidates who will appear on local ballots, Nov. 8. Beginning this week, and leading up to the Nov. 8 Midterm Election, we’ll publish those answers. We begin here with the race for the District 1 Wisconsin Senate seat that serves all of Door County and Kewaunee counties, and parts of Brown, Calumet, Manitowoc and Outagamie counties.

André Jacque.

ANDRÉ JACQUE is the Republican incumbent for the District 1 seat in the Wisconsin Senate. District 1 includes all of Door and Kewaunee counties, and parts of Brown, Calumet, Manitowoc and Outagamie counties.

Jacque was first elected to the seat in the 2018 general election. He previously served eight years in the Wisconsin State Assembly representing District 2. Prior to becoming a full-time legislator, the Beaver Dam native was a transit planning coordinator, communications director and grant-writing consultant. He lives in De Pere and is married with five children. 

Peninsula Pulse (PP): Why are you running?

André Jacque: I enjoy getting results for my constituents. I have a proven record cutting through red tape in state agencies and as an effective and accessible problem solver on a broad range of issues, including authoring 24 bills signed into law with bipartisan support over just the past two years alone – more than any other legislator. I’m proud to have been recognized for my efforts to protect our environment, aid and expand economic development and redevelopment in our area, and assist vocational opportunities for students, veterans and the disabled in ways that have paid dividends for all of northeast Wisconsin.

PP: In an early-August poll by Marquette University Law School, inflation ranked as a top concern for Wisconsinites – ahead of abortion policy, gun violence, health care and the coronavirus. What state solutions do you endorse/propose to mitigate the impacts of inflation? 

AJ: While Wisconsin lacks several tools available at the federal level, opportunities remain for curtailing the dramatically rising cost of living: • Wisconsin should continue to adopt strategic, broad-based tax cuts to allow people to keep more of their paycheck and sustain the economic growth and budget surpluses Wisconsin has accomplished.

  • Wisconsin’s budget should be developed using Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) to reduce the potential for excessive borrowing and the risk of future deficits.
  • Health care reforms can improve patient outcomes, reduce prices and ease inflationary pressures.
  • Wisconsin needs to address benefit cliffs within government programs to reduce barriers to workforce expansion.

PP: What are your priorities for education spending?  

AJ: Wisconsin’s school-funding formula is outdated and needs an overhaul. I’ve authored bipartisan legislation to smooth the distribution of school-aid payments and coauthored recommendations of the 2019 bipartisan Blue Ribbon Commission on School Funding related to early learning. I’ve worked in support of improved reading assessment, dual enrollment, youth apprenticeship and career planning, as well as workforce issues and the retention of substitute teachers. As the author of legislation to require funding for the full cost of complying with mandates imposed on local governments including schools, students with disabilities would be among the greatest beneficiaries of my proposals.

PP: According to Ballotpedia, the average Wisconsinite spends 7.2% of her or his income on health care, and 9% of Wisconsin’s population remains uninsured. How can the state make health insurance more accessible and affordable?

AJ: I’m proud to have authored legislation with overwhelming bipartisan support to protect individuals with pre-existing medical conditions without exclusions or lifetime limits. I was named the Relentless Badger for the Disabled by the Wisconsin Independent Living Network for my success in eliminating the benefits cliff preventing access to the Medical Assistance Purchase Program. I’m also lead coauthor of the law to reform step therapy and have authored bills to help patients with prescription drug costs, expand telemedicine, increase autism-treatment reimbursement, create funding opportunities for pediatric cancer research and expand access to clinical trials and off-label therapies for FDA-approved drugs.

PP: In the wake of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that left regulation of abortion up to individual states – and with Wisconsin ruled by an 1849 law that bans all abortions, including following incest and rape, except to save the life of the mother – what action does the state need to take on abortion?

AJ: I am strongly in opposition to the liberal Democrat agenda of unlimited abortion on demand. I’m proud to have worked successfully to remove state subsidization of elective abortion. During this past session, I worked successfully to get Gov. Evers to sign a licensing restriction with professional and criminal penalties for genetic counselors who push women to get an abortion. I will be looking to reintroduce legislation similar to what I have in the past to finally stop the unbelievable practice of University of Wisconsin doctors and residents using taxpayer dollars on state salary, time and benefits to perform abortions for Planned Parenthood.

PP: What are Wisconsin’s most important environmental challenges, and how do you propose to help solve them?

AJ: I was recently elected chair of the 10-state/province nonpartisan Great Lakes Legislative Caucus after heading up its Nutrient Management Taskforce, and am the state lead for the bipartisan National Caucus of Environmental Legislators. My focus is on water quality and toxic substances like PFAs, and environmental resilience for coastal communities. I’m proud to have authored the Enviro-check, beach-nourishment and Wisconsin Fund for Groundwater Quality Protection laws from this session, and landmark reforms supporting brownfield redevelopment. I will be reintroducing legislation to expand the best practice of agricultural manure composting and enhancing the Freshwater Collaborative and producer-led watershed-management grants.

PP: Forty-one percent of Wisconsin inmates have mental-health issues, according to the Department of Corrections, yet the ability of state jails and prisons to meet inmates’ treatment needs is highly limited. Jails and prisons have become places where inmates are housed but not treated. What can be done about this? 

AJ: I am proud to be the lead author of the law that entered Wisconsin into the interstate compact with 27 other states to expand access to mental-health professionals, including through telehealth. We must continue to seek earlier intervention points to improve mental health within human-services programs and K-12 education, and support proactive law-enforcement interactions with vulnerable populations. I am proud to serve as a legislative member of the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority and have worked in that capacity to sustain major investments to assist in the treatment of homeless individuals dealing with mental-health issues.

PP: In response to gun violence in America, Congress recently passed a gun-control law that, among other measures, raises the age limit to 21 for certain semiautomatic guns. What additional gun-control measures, if any, must be passed in Wisconsin?

AJ: Increased accountability within the justice system is key. An investigation found that three-quarters of felons arrested for unlawful possession of a gun in Milwaukee County see no prison time as a consequence of that arrest, and prosecutors never even filed charges in 37% of those cases. I’ve authored legislation to require court approval before dismissing felon-in-possession charges for suspects with prior convictions for violent felonies and successfully enacted legislation expanding truth-in-sentencing for violent criminals. I’ve cosponsored bipartisan legislation to support domestic-abuse victims threatened by gun violence and have been named Legislator of the Year for the Wisconsin DAs, police chiefs and professional police associations.

Andrea Gage-Michaels.

ANDREA GAGE-MICHAELS  is the Democratic candidate for the District 1 seat in the Wisconsin Senate. District 1 includes all of Door and Kewaunee counties, and parts of Brown, Calumet, Manitowoc and Outagamie counties. 

Gage-Michaels is an attorney in private practice who specializes in senior issues. Prior to her law career, she was a broadcast journalist, in media relations for Planned Parenthood, a legislative aide and a regional director for the Better Business Bureau, and she served a two-year term on the Sun Prairie City Council. She lives in De Pere and is married with stepsons. 

Peninsula Pulse (PP): Why are you running?

Andrea Gage-Michaels: As a lawyer, I’ve made house calls throughout Senate District 1 to help elder-abuse victims with their legal problems. For far too long, too many vulnerable adults have lacked access to basic health care, stable housing, the internet and consistently safe tap water. COVID-19 brought these challenges to more constituents of all ages and backgrounds. I’m confident that more can be done to find solutions, and I am poised to do that on day one of my term.

PP: In an early-August poll by Marquette University Law School, inflation ranked as a top concern for Wisconsinites – ahead of abortion policy, gun violence, health care and the coronavirus. What state solutions do you endorse/propose to mitigate the impacts of inflation? 

AGM: It’s hard to focus on the challenges that lie ahead and build upon our successes when most families are worried about making ends meet. That’s why I support Gov. Evers’ plan to lower income taxes. We need to look for creative ways to keep cash in the pockets of people who need it the most, by lowering the markup for gas and capping co-pays for medications like insulin. We must promote policies that put money back in our district by increasing access to broadband, clean water and affordable health care. It’s time to focus on people, not politics. 

PP: What are your priorities for education spending?  

AGM: School funding and revenue limits have not kept pace with rising costs in transportation, teacher salaries and technology needs over the past decade. Our schools deserve more certainty, with built-in adjustments for rising costs. Our schools also deserve to be reimbursed at a fairer rate for providing special education. Additionally, Wisconsin schools have only one school psychologist for every 901 students, but the recommended ratio is one for every 500. Fundamentally, we need to meet the needs of a growing and diverse community to be a safe, engaging and informative environment in which all children can learn and thrive.

PP: According to Ballotpedia, the average Wisconsinite spends 7.2% of her or his income on health care, and 9% of Wisconsin’s population remains uninsured. How can the state make health insurance more accessible and affordable?

AGM: I support the expansion of BadgerCare to more Wisconsinites. And since no family should have to make the choice between affording lifesaving medication for their loved ones and making ends meet, I support capping co-pays for critical medications such as insulin. My husband has Type 1 diabetes, and I have witnessed firsthand how a blood-sugar spike or drop can affect him, even in a matter of seconds. No one should have to ration their insulin based on their ability to pay. 

PP: In the wake of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that left regulation of abortion up to individual states – and with Wisconsin ruled by an 1849 law that bans all abortions, including following incest and rape, except to save the life of the mother – what action does the state need to take on abortion?

AGM: We must repeal the 1849 abortion ban. I am deeply disappointed that our Legislature failed to take up Gov. Evers’ call for a constitutional amendment that would allow us to go to a referendum to repeal the antiquated statute. A majority of Wisconsinites believe that women should have bodily autonomy, including the ability to choose if and when they become pregnant. Given what’s at stake, I find it morally unconscionable that both houses merely gaveled in and gaveled out on this issue, rather than moving forward. Ultimately, the will of the people should be the law of the land.  

PP: What are Wisconsin’s most important environmental challenges, and how do you propose to help solve them?

AGM: Two of the most pressing issues are climate change and a lack of consistently clean drinking water. Our state can help curb climate change by giving tax incentives to people and businesses that invest in clean-energy solutions. More people are experiencing PFAS in their water. PFAS, also known as forever chemicals, have been linked to a host of poor health outcomes. We need to fund water-treatment centers, plus enforce and expand protections of our resources. We also need to focus on the safety of wells, a water source that many rural Wisconsinites depend on.

PP: Forty-one percent of Wisconsin inmates have mental-health issues, according to the Department of Corrections, yet the ability of state jails and prisons to meet inmates’ treatment needs is highly limited. Jails and prisons have become places where inmates are housed but not treated. What can be done about this? 

AGM: We have made great strides by introducing specialty forums such as drug, alcohol-addiction and mental-health courts that allow judges to focus on the particular needs of abusers who become offenders. When the court is able to examine both the consequences of breaking the law and what an offender needs to be successful, we are able to tailor sentences that can help prevent repeat offenses, promote personal growth and save taxpayer dollars. We should also emphasize treatment and powerful tools like restorative justice, which can be introduced to school-age children before their vulnerabilities take them down a dangerous path. 

PP: In response to gun violence in America, Congress recently passed a gun-control law that, among other measures, raises the age limit to 21 for certain semiautomatic guns. What additional gun-control measures, if any, must be passed in Wisconsin?

AGM: Courts can order abusers to relinquish their guns while certain restraining orders are in place. But these decisions are difficult for our courts to reach. We should be striving for ways to keep guns out of the hands of the most dangerous among us. Right now, we do not require background checks on unlicensed gun sales. We also need extreme-risk laws that would allow family members and law enforcement to petition for the removal of guns from dangerous situations. These laws can help de-escalate emergency situations such as a gun suicide or mass shooting before it’s too late.