Melissa Winker supports public schools and natural resources in her campaign
Melissa Winker is running as the Democratic candidate for the office of state representative in the 38th Assembly District in November. Her opponent will be Republican Barbara Dittrich. The seat is currently available after Republican Incumbent Joel Kleefisch announced in April that he would not be seeking re-election.
Winker, 43, lives in Oconomowoc with her husband Eric and their children Lucy, Zeke, Wyatt and Abe.
She has a masters degree in education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has been a teacher in Wisconsin schools for over 17 years. She currently teaches at Greenland Elementary School part-time.
Winker has no former political experience but said she decided to run because she wanted to represent all community members.
“I really felt that we all needed a voice and our representation again,” Winker said.
She has knocked on many doors and the four issues people continue to bring up are about supporting public schools, protecting Wisconsin’s natural resources, making health care affordable and having an economy that works.
Winker believes Wisconsin has gone backwards in terms of fully funding public schools and that there are many inequalities between them and voucher schools.
″... We need to have a careful look at how public taxpayer dollars are used for our private school system,” Winker said.
She said because of current regulations on the voucher schools, more taxpayer money has gone toward those than the public school system.
Winker talked about less university students going into education, claiming it is because of how Wisconsin legislators have handled educators in the past. She said a shortage of teachers creates high turnover rates and having classes being covered by teachers who aren’t the best fit for the subject.
“We need to be aware what the effects are of the current legislation and the teacher shortages that are happening throughout our district and our state,” Winker said.
Winker wants to expand funding for the Department of Natural Resources. Winker said she found the DNR has had a decrease in funding, scientists and regulatory officials.
She mentioned it’s necessary to be careful with the surrounding lakes and how there needs to be evidence-based research to make sure the water and people are safe.
Winker supports affordable health care and said she would stop insurers from denying coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. She referenced her daughter needing an EpiPen and how the cost had increased over the years.
“This is happening in many different situations with prescription costs where people are having to choose to purchase medications that they need or they have a fear of losing coverage or leaving a job because of their health care,” Winker said.
Winker is concerned with making Wisconsin’s economy work for all and helping those struggling in poverty.
“I hear this concern again and again in our communities. We need to have family-supporting wages for our hardworking Wisconsinites,” Winker said.
Winker comes from a hunting family and said she knows hunting is a tradition in Wisconsin that should be protected.
She also believes there should be some common-sense legislation put in place. She mentioned implementing a 48 hour waiting period for gun purchases and red flag laws which means someone alerting law enforcement if they feel a person is a risk to themselves or others. She also mentioned increasing resources in mental health for schools in concern with school shootings.
Winker supports all types of businesses in Wisconsin but did express concerns about Foxconn. She believes people in this state would choose helping businesses already here than a foreign company.
“Echoing what our community desires is the role of a representative,” Winker said.
On the topic of road systems, Winker said rural roads are suffering. She spoke to a local official who told her they were forced to make a choice between safe roads or safety personnel.
“We’re in America, we should be able to benefit from both safe roads and emergency personnel,” Winker said.
Winker said there is a change in Wisconsin.
“People don’t want divisive language anymore,” Winker said. “They want people working on real concerns. They don’t want attack ads, they want real concerns. They want collaboration where you can sit down at a table with evidence, research and fairness and make policies that are smart and forward-thinking.”
The 38th Assembly District consists of the city of Lake Mills, village of Johnson Creek, and towns of Waterloo, Lake Mills, Milford, Aztalan, Watertown, Farmington and Concord in Jefferson County as well as the city of Oconomowoc, village of Lac La Belle and some rural areas in Waukesha County and a small part of Dane County.