Barbara Dittrich’s campaign focuses on mental health and opioid crisis
Barbara Dittrich is running as the Republican candidate for the office of state representative in the 38th Assembly District in November. She will face Democratic candidate Melissa Winker. The seat is currently available after Republican incumbent Joel Kleefisch announced in April that he would not be seeking re-election.
Dittrich, 54, lives in Oconomowoc with her husband, Steve, and their children Lexi, Charlie and Sophie. She graduated from Hamilton High School-Sussex and received a degree in nursing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Dittrich founded and ran the charitable nonprofit Snappin’ Ministries that served the parents of children with disabilities and chronic illnesses. She is now the director of advancement for Key Ministries after her organization merged with it on Jan. 1.
The only political experience Dittrich has is doing legislative advocacy for people with chronic illnesses.
She told the Daily Times she likes the direction things have gone under Gov. Scott Walker and Kleefisch.
“I want to keep Wisconsin a positive place for my children to grow as adults and to secure a job and to raise a family,” Dittrich said.
Dittrich said two of her main focuses in this campaign are the opioid crisis and mental health.
Dittrich said that the government has not begun to scratch the surface as far as mental health goes.
“Neither side of the aisle is doing well on addressing that right now,” Dittrich said.
Dittrich said mental health affects other issues such as crime and school safety.
“There’s no family that’s not touched by a mental health issue,” Dittrich said.
She said she thinks a lot of a person’s health and dysfunction starts in their family environment, and when families have a hard time it can cause problems. She has enjoyed connecting with young adults and teens, she believes they often don’t feel they’re being taken seriously.
“If we’re not listening to them, there’s not going to be the support for mental health,” Dittrich said.
She has talked to police officers about changing some restrictions when they deal with mental health issues.
“There are barriers in getting that person connected from the point of contact to getting inpatient help,” Dittrich said. “I think if we can remove some of those regulatory barriers, that might be really good for people.”
Dittrich supports state Attorney General Brad Schimel and the advancements he has made with the opioid crisis. Dittrich said opioid imitation drugs need to be outlawed and they are too easy to obtain.
Another key issue for Dittrich is enforcing gun laws already in place. She agrees with efforts to “harden the target” or making it more difficult for someone with a gun to enter places such as schools.
She said in a crime, the first thing in a plea deal is to bargain away gun charges.
Dittrich added that mental health is a factor in shootings like the one that occurred at WTS Paradigm in Middleton. She said she doesn’t think someone who would do that is mentally sound.
“We have to get at the core of what is causing people to do this and meanwhile enforce laws and harden the target,” Dittrich said.
Dittrich believes if guns are taken away, people will find other ways to cause harm such as vehicles or knives.
Public education is another topic Dittrich believes is a priority. She said the government is spending more money on public education than they ever have before in Wisconsin but they are not matching up results with the amount of spending.
Dittrich supports allowing parents to decide where they think their children will receive the best education.
As for the roads systems, one thing Dittrich is concerned with is counties and municipalities rolling their road funding from the state into their general operating funds. She said it adds to the disrepair of roads. She said some people might consider paying a little more to help road funding but since she is against raising taxes, she wanted to hear from more people.
Dittrich has been enjoying being on the campaign trail and listening to people.
“I have had a life of public service and I’m really eager to get to Madison and continue to serve people in government,” Dittrich said.
The 38th Assembly District consists of the city of Lake Mills, village of Johnson Creek and townships 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.
Volunteers for Agriculture endorse Dittrich
MADISON — Barbara Dittrich of Oconomowoc has been endorsed by the Volunteers for Agriculture Committee of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation for the 38th Assembly District. VFA is the political action arm of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation.
The 38th Assembly District includes portions of Dane, Jefferson and Waukesha counties. Dittrich is a Republican seeking an open seat against Democrat Melissa Winker.
Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation is the state’s largest general farm organization with members of every farm size, commodity and management style.