Two candidates are running for the 96th Assembly District on the Democratic Party primary ballot — Tucker Gretebeck and Josefine Jaynes.
Editor’s note: The Vernon County Broadcaster publishes the questionnaires from the candidates as we receive them and in their entirety. The partisan primary election is Aug. 11.
Name: Tucker Gretebeck
Occupation: Farmer and small business entrepreneur
Elected office you are vying for: Representative for the 96th Assembly district
Previously elected offices: None
Community and group affiliations: Westby Rod and Gun Club, National Farmers’ Organization (NFO), Wisconsin Agritourism Association (WATA), Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR) Sustainer, 4-H. In-kind Donor: Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Church groups, CORE, Cashton schools summer program.
Why are you running for office?: Lawmakers in Madison don’t pay enough attention to rural Wisconsin. Our needs can be a lot different than those in urban areas. The people of the 96th deserve a representative who’ll advocate for their interests—and be proactive doing it. As a farmer and small business owner, I’m always building and always looking for common sense solutions to problems. To find those fixes, I like to get creative. I also talk to my friends and neighbors and find out what works for them because together we’re stronger. When my neighbor does better, I do better. That’s the mindset I’ll bring to Madison.
What do you think are some of the more important issues facing the 96th Assembly District?: I want our farms to thrive. I also want see more small business development, including agritourism, and find ways we can form partnerships and work together with or without assistance from the state. And I want to eliminate the bureaucratic red tape and other barriers for people who want to innovate.
Affordable healthcare continues to be an important issue. Keeping what we have and adding to it with Medicaid expansion, for example, will help ensure our families stay healthy. When they’re not, affordable healthcare will ensure an illness doesn’t create a massive financial burden.
Sustainable practices for both water and land are essential for our continued prosperity. Using state resources creatively and consistently, and developing smart policy are important for current and future planning. Good facts make good policy.
Finally, with the coronavirus pandemic affecting just about everything, it’s important to keep our families, schools and businesses safe and strong. Part of that is making sure everyone has access to broadband internet. People are working from home. Students are learning from home. Broadband should be a right, not a privilege.
Are there any issues currently being handled that you would handle differently?: First, we need to be more aggressive about fair maps. If Iowa can do redistricting in a non-partisan way, so can we. Second, too much money goes to the eastern side of the state and leaves our rural communities behind. That needs to change. Investing in our rural communities will drive our tax base and keep our schools and communities stable. Finally, the legislature does a poor job of working together. More unites than divides us. Finding common ground is essential.
What should people know about you as a candidate and potential representative?: I’ve lived in the Driftless my whole life. My wife Becky and I, along with our children, operate All Seasons Farm, host farm tours for executives from Amazon to Chipotle, and operate a seasonal pumpkin patch open to day cares, nursing homes, and the public. We also invite school groups to our farm so children can understand where their food comes from. I’ve traveled to Washington D.C. to advocate for our rural communities. I’ve been a teacher, coach, athlete, and mentor to younger farmers. I value tradition as well as innovation. More than anything, I like helping people succeed.
Name: Josefine Jaynes
Occupation: I currently work in a service field, employed at Bethel Home and Services, Inc., where I work in Recreational Therapy. My future plans are to serve others either in government or through social services. I’m at a unique place in my life where I will commit 100% of my time and effort to serving this district.
What elected office you are vying for: The Wisconsin State Assembly’s 96th District
Previously elected offices: I am the youngest person ever elected my church council. I serve as a Deacon at Kickapoo United Lutheran Church near Folsum.
Community and group affiliations: I am a member of Kickapoo United Lutheran Church. I am a regular volunteer at the Kickapoo Area Food Pantry in Viola.
Why are you running for office?: I have been interested in and have studied history, government, and politics for nearly my entire life. I knew from a young age that I wanted a life of public service. In 2018 I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to be involved with the Buhr campaign.
Through that experience I became more familiar with the issues of our district. I was appalled by the influence of large sums of outside “dark money” that streamed into our community in the form of terrible negative and false advertisements in the name of the GOP candidate. The campaign was between two local farmers, practically neighbors, and was no place for outside influence. I had to wonder what they wanted in return for their money. I am running this campaign without PAC money influence because I firmly believe that out of state entities should not be able to buy our local elections.
I am running for the Wisconsin State Assembly because I want to serve the communities that raised me and fight to preserve our rural way of life.
What do you think are some of the more important issues facing the 96th Assembly District?: Clearly COVID recovery will be the number one issue going forward for all of us. Lack of clear guidance and partisan gridlock has compounded the issues. We still don’t have a clear understanding of the extent of the economic impact this will have on our district, but much will need to be done to help our family farmers, small businesses, and manufacturers recover. I am prepared to work hard to bring assistance to the people of the 96th to ensure our communities emerge successfully from the pandemic.
Are there any issues currently being handled that you would handle differently?: First, I think we need to reexamine the formula used for school funding. The current formula disproportionately affects our rural schools. I don’t believe that a student’s zip code should determine the quality of their education. I would fight for our rural schools and our rural students in Madison.
Broadband is also an issue where our communities have been left behind. This pandemic has shown us that broadband is vital for education and telemedicine, as well as other sectors such as agriculture and tourism. We need to treat broadband like we did rural electrification in the ‘20s and ‘30s, it’s essential we get funding to our local utilities who have been doing a fantastic job of building out our rural infrastructure.
Our district suffers from a lack of housing. Housing is essential for our economy. Local businesses cannot expand if there isn’t housing for new employees. Addressing the housing issue will also broaden the tax base and help combat the declining enrollment so many of our rural schools are facing.
Other issues I’d fight for in Madison are fixing our roads; creating opportunity for our family farmers, small business owners, and local manufacturers; addressing the need for quality daycare; and protecting our water not just for our health, but also for our sport and tourism industries.
You can find more on the issues on my website josefinejaynesforwi.com.
What should people know about you as a candidate and potential representative?: I grew up in a family that has always been very active in the community. I learned early the value of service and the commitment to making the world a better place. My father, who grew up in Viroqua, is a 22 year Veteran of the United States Army. In my early years, he was stationed in Alexandria, VA just across the river from Washington, DC. That experience created my lifelong interest in history and government. Before moving here permanently in 2010, every summer, holiday, and school break was spent on my maternal grandmother’s farm outside of Readstown. My grandmother, Lisa Reser, was a Norwegian immigrant and she had an intense love of history and for her adopted country. Her house was filled with books on every topic, and she shared her stories of her childhood in Norway when it was occupied by the Germans in WWII. Those experiences created in her an intense passion to fight injustice which she passed on to me.
Firmly grounded by my family, my faith, and my community, I’m at a unique place in my life where I am able to commit 100% of my time and effort to serving this district. I may not have been born here, but I was raised here. I’m one of you and I’d be honored to serve you in Madison.
I encourage voters to read through my endorsements, listen to my interviews, or give me a call. All of that information can be found on my website josefinejaynesforwi.com or on my Facebook page Josefine Jaynes for State Assembly. Let’s talk!
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