If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — Incumbent Republican U.S. Congressman Tom Tiffany will face Democratic challenger Trisha Zunker in the November 3 election for representative of Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District.
Tiffany was elected as representative of the 7th Congressional District in a special election May 12, 2020, to replace Congressman Sean Duffy, who resigned from the position the previous September.
Tiffany and Zunker both ran for representative of the 7th Congressional District in the special election in May.
The 7th Congressional District includes the counties of Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Burnett, St. Croix, Chippewa (partial), Clark, Douglas, Florence, Forest, Iron, Jackson (partial), Juneau (partial), Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Monroe (partial), Oneida, Polk, Price, Rusk, Sawyer, Taylor, Vilas, Washburn and Wood (partial).
Tiffany, who is from Hazelhurst, previously served as a Republican state senator. He owned and operated Wilderness Cruises for 20 years. He is a former supervisor on the Little Rice Town Board and served on the Oneida County Economic Development Board of Directors.
Zunker is a law professor who serves as associate justice on the Ho-Chunk Nation Supreme Court and is president of the Wausau School Board.
Tiffany and Zunker participated in a debate October 16 on WJFW Newswatch 12 out of Rhinelander.
Each candidate was given one minute to answer a question and another 30 seconds to respond, and the debate covered a wide range of topics, including COVID-19, federal funding for schools, broadband Internet access, police reform, the gray wolf and the endangered species list, the Affordable Care Act, Columbus Day, Q-Anon and diplomatic relations with China.
Here is a summary of their answers to a few of the topics.
One of the questions asked by moderator Justin Betti was whether the candidates are in favor of a mask mandate to help slow the spread of COVID-19, and if not, what measures are appropriate.
The virus is real and must be taken seriously. Governor Tony Evers has not used the tools available to him, and the state needs better leadership from the governor. China must also be held accountable, Tiffany said.
Tiffany noted he always carries a mask with him and washes his hands as many as 10 times a day.
In addition, the governor has not done enough through the Department of Workforce Development to make sure unemployment claims are being processed efficiently, he said.
Zunker said she was in favor of saving lives.
Wisconsin is one of the hotspots for COVID-19 in the nation, and people should follow the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by wearing masks, social distancing, reducing their travel and washing their hands frequently, Zunker said.
Too many people have failed to act responsibly. COVID-19 is not a Democratic or Republican issue. It is an an American health and safety issue, she said.
Another question Betti asked focused on a bill Tiffany had introduced in the House of Representatives to block federal funding for schools that did not open in person this fall because of COVID-19.
The bill incentivized schools to have in-person instruction this fall. Children are at minimal risk from COVID-19, and colds and influenza are more deadly for children. A generation will be left behind in education, and 15 percent of students do not have good broadband for virtual learning, Tiffany said.
Virtual learning also does not work well for special needs students, he said.
Tiffany’s bill would have withheld federal funding if schools did not start in-person instruction by September 8, Zunker said.
Our children and our teachers should not be held hostage, and the nation needs more federal investment in schools and not less, she said.
All together, 10 percent of funding for schools comes from the federal government for children with disabilities and for those who qualify for free or reduced lunch. Tiffany’s first act in Congress was to target funding for the most vulnerable students, Zunker said.
The United States Supreme Court will be hearing a case in November that could overturn the Affordable Care Act. What is your vision for healthcare? Betti asked.
If the ACA is overturned, 20 million people could lose their healthcare, with 250,000 of them in Wisconsin and 23,000 in the 7th Congressional District, Zunker said.
The ACA needs to be strengthened so healthcare is more affordable, and people with pre-existing conditions must be protected. Anyone who suffers persistent complications from COVID-19 would be considered to have a pre-existing condition. Access to mental health care is important, too, she said.
The federal government must provide more funding for rural hospitals, take on “big Pharma” to lower the cost of prescription drugs and make investments in research for new treatments, Zunker said.
Affordable available healthcare starts with choice and competition. There is a better way than the ACA. Wisconsin had a program that protected people with pre-existing conditions. Federal money should be applied to a state program to protect those with pre-existing conditions, Tiffany said.
Red tape must be cut at the federal level between a doctor and the insurance company so doctors can work more directly with their patients. Doctors who can do house calls should be brought back, he said.
Columbus Day was named a federal holiday in 1972. More recently, a dozen states and 100 cities have started to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day instead of Columbus Day. What are your thoughts? Betti asked.
The destruction of our heritage must stop. History must recognize people are not perfect, but when symbols are removed of people who did great things but were not perfect, it does a disservice to history and to children, Tiffany said.
Anarchists are trying to destroy America, he said.
History must be taught accurately, said Zunker, who noted she is a member of Ho-Chunk Nation and founded a non-profit to bring a pow wow to central Wisconsin to recognize Indigenous Peoples Day.
Wisconsin is home to 11 of the federally recognized tribes. The history of the tribes is not being taught as is required by Wisconsin Act 31, she said.
“People forget we are here, and it is a form of racism,” Zunker said.