Gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke focuses on employment growth in the Northwoods
Fresh off her win in the Democratic primary, gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke is campaigning in the Northwoods this week. Prior to touring a nearby forest area, Burke stopped by the Star Journal office for an exclusive interview.
While listening to community members throughout the north this week, Burke says there are common themes of school funding, good jobs and natural resources that need attention. Getting to know and understand the issues and concerns in each part of the state is important, Burke says, to be an effective governor. “I want to focus on the issues, put the best ideas on the table; I don’t care if they are Republican or Democratic ideas and work together to get results,” she said. Burke said she understands the school funding formula needs to be revised to send the money to the school districts that need it. But as in other rural areas of the state, in the Northwoods, candidate Burke said she believes the real issue is jobs.
“If we don’t have a growing tax base, we can’t support the community and the schools, police and fire departments, and maintain the roads,” Burke said. “All of those things are tied to a growing economy, and the jobs are just not coming back. We have to be honest as leaders in the community and in the state and be honest about the challenges, plans and progress being made.” Too often, according to Burke, politics gets in the way of a common sense approach to interests such as natural resources. “We have to make sure we are listening to the most experienced researchers and scientists before we make decisions. We can’t take a cookie cutter approach to the various local concerns.”
Burke touts her 30-year business background, much of it spent as a Trek bicycles executive, as necessary experience to lead the state. She said tax cuts for the wealthy are not the answer to any of the challenges facing our state. “I’m a business person. I know that’s not the way to create jobs,” Burke said. “People create jobs when the demand for their products is growing, and Wisconsin is dead last in the Midwest for increased consumer spending.” Empty storefronts in downtown Rhinelander are evidence of that. “Those aren’t just empty buildings, they are people’s lives, jobs that are gone,” she said, “fourteen hundred jobs have been lost in Oneida County since the recession, and they have come back at a rate of only 75 per year.” That, Burke said, is not enough.
According to Mary Burke, the differences between her and Governor Scott Walker are clear. “He has been a politician much of his career, I have been a business person most of my career,” she says, “It’s a different approach. Putting people ahead of politics, measuring and being accountable for what we have promised.”
Democrat Mary Burke will face Republican incumbent Scott Walker in November’s general election.