Northwest Wisconsin is having another election May 12th. This is a special election in the 7th Congressional district to select a new member for the House of Representatives. The contrast between the two candidates is huge. A look at each candidate’s own words (from the “issues” page of their campaign websites) speaks volumes.


Tricia Zunker, the Democratic candidate, identifies eight issues she thinks are important:


“Healthcare, the Farm Crisis, Education and Children, Standing up for Working People and Protecting Equality, The Economy & Infrastructure, the Environment, Campaign Finance Reform, and Criminal Justice Reform.”


Tom Tiffany, the Republican candidate, lays out fourteen issues he will champion:


“Standing with President Trump, Reducing the Deficit and Cutting Spending, Building a Pro-jobs Economy, Protecting the Unborn, Draining the Swamp, Securing Our Southern Border, Defending the 2nd Amendment, Championing Agriculture, Supporting Rural Veterans, Continuing Energy Independence, Making Healthcare Affordable, Encouraging a Convention of the States, Working for Free and Fair Trade, and Delisting the Grey Wolf.”


Note: Both of these lists are quotes and presented in the same order as on the websites.


These lists tell us what each candidate sees as important, who they are as a person, and what they will work to do as your representative. To me the contrast between the two candidates is quite clear. One is concerned about people and the real problems they face. The other is concerned with political slogans and appealing to a narrow segment of potential voters. But don’t accept my opinion. Go to each candidate’s website and read the details for each issue.


I have selected several issues to explore more closely. I think these are the more important issues for most people in the 7th Congressional district.


Healthcare. The current pandemic illustrates the failure of our expensive, fragmented, for profit, health insurance system. Many people lack insurance or have inadequate insurance.   Tricia supports a voluntary “Medicare for All” as an addition to the Affordable Care Act options.  She believes no one should die, go without care, or go bankrupt because they can’t afford to pay for medical care.


Tom Tiffany believes free markets and competition will solve the problems. He opposes any form of universal health insurance including “Medicare for All.”


Public Education.  Many people are concerned about the funding for local public schools.  Tricia Zunker supports well-funded public schools. She believes vocational and college education needs to be “accessible and affordable.” She says the student debt crisis needs to be addressed. She says teachers deserve respect and should be valued for the important work they do.


Tom Tiffany does not list education as an issue on his website. However, we know he doesn’t support local public schools from his voting record as a Wisconsin legislator. He repeatedly voted for school voucher programs and to expand them statewide. He supported Gov. Scott Walker’s total $4 billion cuts to public school funding.


Clean Water and Air.  Tricia Zunker is concerned about the impact of mining and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) on water and air quality. She believes we must protect the environment and be careful stewards of our natural resources. She says we have an obligation to “tackle emissions and climate change to protect the environment for our children and grandchildren.”


Tom Tiffany does not list protecting the environment as an issue on his website. But it is clear from his statements on other issues that he does not support strong environmental protections or actions to reduce climate change. Speaking on supporting farmers he says he will work for “fewer government regulations so all Wisconsin farms can succeed.” This opposition to public oversight of business practices is a theme of his campaign. His voting record as a Wisconsin legislator shows support for mining, sand fracking, and industrial agriculture as his priorities.


Economy and Jobs. Tricia Zunker suggests a number of ways to build a better economy for NW Wisconsin. She talks about strengthening “the middle class by focusing on manufacturing, small business owners, our farmers, education and career training.” She says we need to increase “money in people’s pockets by increasing the minimum wage and creating good-paying jobs.” She says ending “tax giveaways to big corporations” and creating an ”infrastructure plan”  to fix roads, bridges, and water systems is necessary.


Tom Tiffany is vague on this issue. He cites his experience running a small tourist excursion business and says he will “work with President Trump to ensure America keeps good, family-supporting jobs.” In talking about energy independence, he calls the Green New Deal “socialism” that would “bankrupt Wisconsin small businesses and manufacturers.” Reducing “regulations” appears to be his solution for the economy. Apparently, he thinks the free markets with less government oversight will create economic growth.


Again, don’t take my spin on these comparisons. Go to each candidate’s website and read it for yourself. Then VOTE.


Tom Tiffany


Tricia Zunker