Jon Plumer is about to embark on one of the most unusual incumbencies in the history of the state Assembly.
When Plumer, of the town of Lodi, is sworn in Monday as the new District 42 representative, he’ll have an office and a staff at the Capitol in Madison, but no legislation to work on.
The Legislature isn’t expected to come back into session until January. And before that, all 99 Assembly seats, including Plumer’s, are up for election in November.
But Plumer (whose name is pronounced like “plumber”) said that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a job to do — a job that entails more than campaigning again for the seat he won in a special election on June 12.
“That was the idea of the special election — to have somebody representing the people,” he said.
District 42 encompasses a large portion of Columbia County and parts of Dane, Dodge, Fond du Lac, Green Lake and Marquette counties.
It all started at the end of December, when 42nd Assembly District Rep. Keith Ripp, R-Lodi, who had held the office since 2009, stepped down immediately and unexpectedly, to take the job of assistant deputy secretary — the No. 3 post — in the state’s Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection.
Gov. Scott Walker declared then that he would keep open Ripp’s seat — and the seat for state Senate District 1, from which Sen. Frank Lasee, R-DePere, also resigned in late December to take a post in the Walker administration — until the November election, and that he would not call a special election.
However, Dane County Circuit Court Judge Josann Reynolds ordered Walker to hold special elections for both seats. A key point in her decision was that constituents in the two districts would be disenfranchised if the seats were to remain unfilled for a year.
Plumer defeated Lodi Democrat Ann Groves Lloyd and rural Pardeeville independent Gene Rubinstein in the special election. Lloyd has declared her intention to run against Plumer again in November.
Meanwhile, Plumer is the District 42 representative — or he will be, after his swearing-in ceremony at 1 p.m. Monday in the Assembly chamber at the Capitol.
Already, Plumer said, he’s heard from constituents who want his help.
One of them, who contacted him Tuesday, wanted to know about attaining broadband internet service, Plumer said.
With the Legislature not in session, he said, he can’t draft or promote any proposed laws, but he can be a resource for constituents facing issues related to state government.
“There’s a lot to do,” he said. “Anything that I can do to help, as far as being a resource for my constituents, I’m thrilled to be a part of.”
One of the first things Plumer needs to do is fill staff positions in his Capitol office, where he expects he’ll work about three days a week.
But much of the time, he said, his “office” will be among the people, at public events such as parades and the recent Columbia County Moo-Day Brunch at Leeds Dairy near Arlington.
Those aren’t intended mainly as campaign appearances, Plumer said, but rather as a way to get acquainted with the district, its communities and its people.
“I probably won’t begin knocking on doors again,” Plumer said, “until this fall.”