Assembly District 62: Wittke seeks 3rd term, challenged by Hammes


ROOT COUNTY — Robert Wittke (R) is running for his third term in the 62nd Assembly District. Wittke is challenged by Tony Hammes, who is running for office for the first time. Racine County Eye posed the same questions to candidates via email and edited their answers only for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. Their answers are all in their own words.

Robert Wittke

Name: Robert Wittke
Occupation: Project Manager, Tax Technology
Municipality I call home: Village of Wind Point
Civil status: Married with 4 children

1. Why are you running?
In 2018, I originally ran for State Assembly for the opportunity to serve my community at a higher level. I am running for a third term to build on the results I achieved during my first two terms. During my first mandate, I passed five pieces of legislation. During my second term, I managed to get 14 laws signed. I have developed good working relationships with municipalities, constituents, businesses and organizations, and have been recognized for this with several different awards. I am seeking a third term to continue solving problems and being a strong voice and advocate for the 62nd District.

2. What concerns do you hear from residents?
Residents talk to me freely and the same topics keep coming up: inflation, community safety and education.

Residents are worried about the rising cost of living and the direction our economy is heading. People are grappling with rising food and gas prices from week to week. They are deeply concerned about the cost of heating their homes as winter approaches. Farmers and small businesses face the same challenges when it comes to their operating costs.

Families feel safe in their homes and communities. Residents are concerned about rising crime rates and the resources available to solve the problems. A constituent contacted me to ask what was possible because all he wanted to do was enjoy a cup of coffee on his porch in the morning without fear of the sound of gunfire. In our westernmost communities, they are struggling to serve residents with volunteer firefighters and EMS services.

Parents are extremely concerned about what their children are taught in school and their ability to have a voice in their children’s education. We have a literacy crisis in this state – about 600,000 students cannot read to grade level – that requires a laser focus on reforms to improve student outcomes. I recently attended a dyslexia simulation event at Raymond School which really highlighted the impact on students, parents and families when children struggle with reading.

3. If elected, how will you address these concerns?
As I have done in my first two terms, I will work through the budgetary and legislative processes to provide solutions to these challenges. The budget we put together last session included a $3.2 billion permanent tax cut for Wisconsin residents as we began working toward a flat tax rate.

In the next session, we must continue these efforts to put more money back in the pockets of our constituents. We want to bring back legislation the Governor vetoed that would have eliminated the property tax on our small businesses and restaurants. In addition, evaluate the proposals made to lighten the tax burden of our seniors, retirees and veterans.

I will continue to work with municipalities to develop funding strategies to recruit, retain and equip our law enforcement, volunteer fire and EMS agencies.

I will continue to work with the legislature to strengthen our justice system and our bail conditions to keep dangerous criminals off the streets.

Last session, we tabled a bill on the governor’s desk that would have provided a parent’s bill of rights and also provided enhanced tests to identify students with reading disabilities. I will work to have these important pieces of legislation re-passed and signed by the Governor and seek further reforms to improve outcomes for our students.

4. What problems are on your priority list and what will you do to solve them?
I want to finish the legislation we started last session that was vetoed by Governor Evers. An example is a bill that would have given our communities more control over our lakefront when it comes to tourism. I will continue to make prudent investments in mental health and long-term care. I want to expand our youth apprenticeship programs and our dual credit programs to attract more students into the trades and earn college credits. I also want to continue my work on the building commission and help reform the process so that we have the most effective use of taxpayers’ money.

Anthony J. Hammes

Name: Anthony J. Hammes
Municipality that I call home: Caledonia
Profession: Independent digital marketer and mental health advocate
Marital status: Married for over 15 years to Dr Diana Turner, hospitalist at All Saints

1. Why are you standing for election?
Before deciding to enter politics, I had worked hard to help fix our mental health system. I have spent the last year working with DHS (Department of Health Services) and DQA (Department of Quality Assurance) to obtain substandard care claims substantiated and helped develop new protocols at Winnebago Mental Health . Our efforts have resulted in new regulations for cleanliness and quality of care at the facility where many Racine County patients end up seeking care. Through these efforts, I have learned firsthand what these facilities are missing due to consecutive budget cuts.

Someone from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) asked me if I would be willing to stand before state legislators and present these stories. I said, “I’ll do you better, I’ll become a legislator!” Although improving mental health was what initially set me on the path to becoming a state legislator, I discovered so many important topics where the citizens of Wisconsin need the right person and good voice that will speak for them.

I’m running to defend our democracy, preserve women’s health rights, give back $22 million annually to the Racine public school system, work to improve our mental health system, and fight price gouging.

2. What concerns do you hear from residents?
The main concern I hear at the gates of District 62 is women’s right to health and what might happen to marriage equality and contraception.

3. If elected, how will you address these concerns?
Once elected, I will help introduce bills that protect our vulnerable populations and spend over 16 seconds fixing an 1849 law.

4. What problems appear on your priority list, what will you do to solve them?
We need to put mental health first and build a stronger system. We must strive to eliminate the stigma that accompanies suffering from a mental illness.

Economic spending, I would encourage robust discussions with lawmakers inviting leading field experts to indicate where limited dollars would have the greatest impact on our communities. I am a proponent of following evidence-based research to guide our decision-making. I am not averse to learning from the successes and failures of other states and am willing to invest time and effort in pursuit of results that will guide us forward.

Co-author/author of bills to protect marriage equality, contraception and women’s health rights. I do not belong in the decision-making between a woman, her partner and their doctor.

election day

Election Day is Tuesday, November 8, 2022. To check your voter registration and find your polling location, visit myvote.wi.gov. Polling stations open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Track local election results with Racine County Eye.

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