Republican Jon Plumer is an elected official three times over, but he insists he’s no politician.
“I’m not a political junkie,” he said, in his introductory remarks at last week’s Assembly District 42 candidates’ forum in Lodi. “I’m just a blue collar guy who’s worked for a living all of his life and paid his bills.”
In addition to being elected to the Assembly seat vacated by the resignation of Keith Ripp of rural Lodi, Plumer (pronounced like “plumber”) also is a Lodi town supervisor, and represents District 25 on the Columbia County Board of Supervisors.
Although he has yet to cast a vote on any bill in the Wisconsin State Assembly – the Legislature hasn’t been in session since he took office – Plumer, 63, touts his experience as the incumbent. He and his staff at the Capitol have handled constituents’ concerns, he said, and he’s held eight listening sessions at communities in the district.
“I’m already on the job,” he said.
From what he hears on the campaign trail, District 42 residents are pretty happy with the way things are going in Madison, he said.
“What I hear here,” Plumer said, referring to the Lodi forum, “is not what I hear out there. People aren’t depressed at their doors. From what I see here, the sky is falling and everything is terrible. But people at the doors are in very good moods.”
Plumer got more than a few snorts and snickers from the Lodi audience when he said, “At least in the 42nd Assembly District, the roads are not as bad as everybody is saying.”
Plumer said he stands by Gov. Scott Walker’s promise of more money for road improvements, and he thinks that money will come from increased revenue generated by a booming economy in a business-friendly Wisconsin, he said.
The cost of health insurance under the Affordable Care Act poses a challenge, however.
Plumer said he would favor, and always has favored, covering pre-existing conditions under health insurance. But he said he has had difficulty obtaining affordable health insurance, as the cost of his coverage went up from $500 to $1,400 per month, a situation he blamed on Affordable Care Act coverage requirements for health insurance.
On the opioid addiction crisis, Plumer offered praise for Columbia County’s grant-funded Medication Assisted Treatment Program, although neither he nor his Democratic opponent, Ann Groves Lloyd, said specifically that they would support continuation of the state grant program that funds the program, on a year-to-year basis.
“There is not a one-prong approach that will solve this problem,” he said.
Like Groves Lloyd, Plumer said he hears voters on the campaign trail talk a lot about public education.
In his previous Assembly campaign, Plumer said he is “a fan” of taxpayer-funded vouchers for private education, because he said they offer an option for students whose public school district is failing, or who would get a better education in a private school.
Plumer said he has not given any thought, yet, to whether he would remain in either of his other two elected offices if he wins the Assembly race again. Because he hasn’t experienced a Legislative session, he said, he does not yet know whether the time demands of the Legislature would preclude his Town Board or County Board service – nor has he spoken to Columbia County Board Chairman Vern Gove of Portage about the prospect of relinquishing his seat.