Democrat Jack Redmond Seeks to Represent Assembly District 21
Democrat Jack Redmond is running against Republican Rep. Jessie Rodriguez to represent Assembly District 21 on the county's southern border. Here are Redmond's answers to the Shepherd's candidate questionnaire. Rodriguez didn't respond to the Shepherd's request to complete the questionnaire or be interviewed. To learn more about Jack Redmond, go to redmondforassembly.com.
Your current occupation, education and career and personal information you’d like our readers to know:
I’m a business representative for Teamsters Local 344. I negotiate contracts, navigate workplace issues, and help lead and mentor over 1,500 local women and men at the UPS facility next to our Milwaukee airport. For 17 years I delivered packages on Christmas Eve until after 9 p.m. so families could have Christmas cheer; it was an important duty but working with UPS has been wonderful despite hardships. I’ve been working for UPS, or with them as a Teamster, almost 50 years in the private sector. Teamsters proudly helped UPS march from 53 up to the #50 spot in the Fortune 500. Many of the UPS managers I deal with daily have knocked doors for our grassroots campaign, or written us a check to donate. UPS is a great organization, and we work hard at our Teamster Local to promote unity, increase productivity and increase safety. The tired “labor versus business” model or pitch sold by Republicans and a small number of business owners is a totally manufactured fallacy, and a silly talking point loaded with false negativity.
Why are you running for office?
I have six key reasons to run for office: my six Wisconsin grandkids. My two daughters went to a great public high school in Oak Creek. I was a chaperone for the Oak Creek Marching Knights for seven years for both my kids, and Oak Creek’s great athletic program mentored my daughters in track and cross country. These coaches and mentors helped them win spots on the University of Wisconsin Marching Band—and I got to see them march on every Big Ten football field. I built a home in Oak Creek over 20 years ago because of the great schools. These public education resources molded my kids into passionate Badgers and Wisconsin leaders. One daughter is a volunteer firefighter besides her career, and my other daughter is a public school teacher in Madison. I demand that all girls and boys in our South Shore neighborhoods, Franklin, Oak Creek and South Milwaukee, also have access to world-class public schools and universities to equip them to succeed in the global marketplace. We need a great pitch to attract new businesses and young families—Wisconsin is committed to great public education.
What are the top three issues you’d like to address, and how would you address them?
One: voter and taxpayer education. My opponent is claiming she’s raised education funding at the state level despite over $2 billion in historically giant cuts to vital technical colleges, public universities and our state’s backbone—our public K-12 schools. I will continue to aggressively knock on doors after this election, because people have the right to know the real numbers. This fairytale of “tax relief” is a few bucks, which is a joke compared to skyrocketing public school and local government fees. Politicians in Madison are building a rigged economy based on lies and serving billionaires and multimillionaires.
Two: increased public school funding and addressing the state voucher program. The voucher program is theft—pure and simple. Out of state, ultra-rich donors are purchasing Wisconsin elections to purchase the right to buy and sell our schools. The state has kicked over 50 schools off the program, mistakes that cost Wisconsin taxpayers over $175 million, often these schools had fabrications on applications and zero qualified teachers or administrators. If I wasted $10,000 at my job I’d be fired in the private sector. These failed experiments have greatly damaged young learners’ progress and accountability is too little and too late for these impacted kids. We need to increase public school funding, stop subsidizing awful private schools and be real about the costs of maintaining and improving great public schools in Wisconsin.
Three: our veterans. Wisconsin has an important duty to help those that serve. I pledge to tour offices and care facilities for veterans, VA as well as county and state. I will visit continuously to build a rapport with staff and identify reforms. Let’s get veteran volunteers in schools: teaching respect and care for our flag, teaching the lessons of valor and sacrifice. My father was a WWII veteran and Purple Heart recipient. When I was a Boy Scout at St. Sebastian and Pius XI High School, I learned at a young age how to share my God-given talents. Those who serve have unique obstacles, and the statistics on homelessness, unemployment and service members taking their own lives is appalling. I will work hard daily to impact these statistics. Similar to schools, a shift in focus and increased community involvement is just as important as vital funding for these efforts. I’m very optimistic Wisconsin can come together to overcome these difficulties to enjoy community-wide success.
How would you improve the economic climate in your district?
I have a great relationship with the local mayors and many business leaders. I think our communities have to have a frank conversation about raising the minimum wage so families have bigger paychecks, and are not juggling so many employers that parental involvement and quality time with your family suffers. Employers and manufacturers have specific needs, and I will work with that community to connect with high schools and technical colleges so we’re getting students into tracks that turn into real employment opportunities. That greatly increases the incentive to invest time and money into education and take the chance to improve one’s skills. We need to improve health care programs from the state so people can be entrepreneurs and take chances on small businesses, working with and accepting federal funds could improve our public marketplace for health care and put money in folks’ checkbooks. Lastly, I’d like to say my wonderful wife Margie was a school bus driver, paralegal and an armored truck driver—we know the stress of juggling kids and trying to make ends meet. The best improvements to our economic climate focus on hard working Wisconsinites, and spending funds smartly to actually help real families and taxpayers; not solely focusing on helping billionaires and tax cuts for campaign donors who already have economic success.
Do you support the way Wisconsin currently funds public schools? If so, why? If not, what would you like to see instead?
We need to look at state set funding limits and the fiction of “tax relief.” Lots of homes in Oak Creek, Franklin and South Milwaukee still are down ten, twenty, thirty thousand dollars or more in value from the 2007/2008 downturn. Local public schools charge hundreds of dollars in fees each year. Politicians in Madison are proud of cut a few bucks off property taxes, while values are still hurting and municipal and school fees are skyrocketing. The nonsense budgeting coming out of Madison has to end. Funding limits have let schools crumble since 1992, and the frankly disastrous recent cuts are sending a negative signal to the media, out-of-state investors and hurting Wisconsin kids. Our communities statewide must have a conversation about restoring K-12 cap increases to follow closer to inflation, as well as restoring the unprecedented cuts in higher education.
Do you think the state should support more voucher and charter schools? Should their per-pupil funding increase?
Our Wisconsin voucher and charter school experiment has hurt socioeconomically underprivileged kids, and over 70% of the kids in the program were already in private schools. This isn’t a successful program, and the recent accountability measures have only underlined the folly in this wildly poorly planned policy tinkering. Taxpayers deserve accountability and real data, not false promises and $175 million lost in disastrous failures. The state’s current and continued funding should be linked to dealing with the existing issues, and increases in funding or maintaining this questionable project is a secondary conversation.
Should the state further intervene in the Milwaukee Public Schools?
Yes, by increased state funding with local, democratic control. Looking at national as well as international best practices and models is paramount. We need to improve urban education outcomes. These improvements must be pursued with well-vetted projects, focused on accountability, and the money should go to public institutions.
How should the state pay for freeway projects and local roadways?
Not by borrowing and borrowing and borrowing. A non-regressive wheel tax based on the weight and value of the vehicle is one reasonable option that should be discussed. Additional options, besides continued deficit borrowing, must be looked at. Politicians in Madison are showing a complete lack of leadership on the issue, and with almost 50 years of expertise in transportation, I guarantee this will be an issue I’m focused on. Road safety and shrewd investments in infrastructure are very important, and long-term, viable funding is key.
Is the state adequately funding public transit?
No. Many employers in our South Shore neighborhoods would hire more employees if people could access these businesses with public transit. Our Milwaukee County private and public higher education institutions as well as employers rely on these services. The state of Wisconsin should be focused on public transit solutions and increasing access to employment and education. When you look at our global competitors in advanced economies, such as the E.U. and east Asia, these economies are far ahead of us in designing sound public transit solutions.
Would you support allowing local communities increase their sales tax?
Some communities in Wisconsin thrive on tourism, and some thrive on manufacturing or other industries. Local communities need to be able to tailor their budgets to their needs and the needs of their citizens. I support local control of sales taxes, within smartly designed policy restrictions researched by the state.
Do you believe a woman has the right to choose an abortion?
I believe American women have suffered from poor access to health care options, and don’t have affordable options for family planning and other needs. When women have affordable options, data from across the globe proves this, economies see increases in wages and people live longer. Not only do I support a woman’s right to choose an abortion, I more importantly support Wisconsin women in their pursuit of affordable access to programs that reduce cancer, STIs and STDs as well as reduce the total number of abortions that are performed. We must dedicate ourselves to subsidized clinics and health care access for women, who are often saddled with the double injustice of higher health care costs and lower pay than comparably employed male coworkers.
Is the state doing an adequate job of protecting Wisconsin’s natural resources?
We must be watchful stewards of our air, waters and public lands. These are resources that provides vital funds in tourism. An invaluable treasure, these wild spaces are a gift we must preserve so future generations can enjoy them as well. Funding cuts to our state parks system and our environmental protections have be a terrible mistake. We are not doing an adequate job of protecting our natural resources, and we must work with our great agricultural industry leaders, family farms and hunters to maximize shared value and preservation.
To learn more about Jack Redmond, go to redmondforassembly.com.