Election Reform Panelists

April 3, 1998

Pierce, St. Croix Election Reform Panelists Named

For more information, contact:
Professor David Schultz, 715/425-3318, or
Paul Schaefer, Jefferson Center, at 715/792-5127

Twenty-one residents of Pierce and St. Croix counties will serve as panelists to come up with an independent plan on campaign financing election reform for state offices in Wisconsin.

From April 13-17, the panelists will meet at UW-River Falls to hear in-depth presentations on five approaches to campaign financing election reform gaining momentum in Wisconsin.

Sponsored by the Citizens Election Forum of Minneapolis, the panelists will take testimony for a week and issue a report on its opinion of the most effective way to finance Wisconsin elections. Students in a political participation course taught by UW-RF political science Professor Dave Schultz selected the panelists and will monitor the week-long presentations and discussions for bias.

Appearing before the panelists to present their approach to electoral reform include:

Roger Bybee of Wisconsin Citizen Action. The Milwaukee-based chapter of the national organization advocates full public funding of political campaigns. It has not yet developed a specific proposal for Wisconsin.

Gail Shea, of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. The Madison-based group is a coalition of organizations that favor reforming campaign finance laws. It has developed a legislative proposal that supports a mix of public and private funding.

Rep. Joe Handrick, R-Minocqua, who is chair of the Wisconsin Assembly Campaign Finance Reform Committee. That body is nearing completion of a reform proposal that is likely to favor more private funding with less public funding. Its findings are likely to be incorporated into Gov. Tommy Thompson's Blue Ribbon Commission on Campaign Reform, known as the Kettl Commission.

Brent Pickens, chair of the Wisconsin Christian Coalition. The Madison-based organization supports a strict free speech or free market approach that opposes any reform measure.

Ned Crosby, founder of the Twin Cities-based Citizens Election Forum. He advocates a reform proposal that focuses on improving the dialogue between citizens and candidates in a way that empowers citizens.

Following each presentation, representatives of each of the five proposals will be asked to critique the best and worst aspects of each option for campaign finance reform. Panelists also will ask questions of presenters.

The panelists' final report is expected to be released in May.

Jefferson Center founder Crosby said the campaign finance reform panel's recommendations will be shared widely. He said he hopes the Center can raise up to $15 million in corporate and foundation donations to share the recommendations nationwide. In some states, Crosby said, there is the potential to use the initiative process in to adopt the panel's recommendations as state law.

The St. Croix and Pierce county panelists were selected from 400 residents contacted randomly to be a mirror of American demographic profiles based on race, age and gender. They are balanced among those who both favor or oppose campaign funding reform that reflects the current distibution of Americans on the topic as indicated in national polls. Named to the panel, by hometown and occupation are:

Hudson: Charles Aubin, sheet metal fabrication; Frances M. Birkmose, retired legal secretary; Tracy Dierks, state coordinator, Minneapolis YMCA Youth in Government program; Robert Juckel, account clerk; Neil Shirley, automotive specialist.

Emerald: Marilyn Benson, medical laboratory technician supervisor; Burleigh Larson, dairy farmer.

Bay City: Faye Earney, retired registered nurse; alternate Mary C. Acker, private music teacher.

Spring Valley: Charles M. Ford, labor.

Hammond: Donna M. Forsythe, retired bailiff and cashier.

Beldenville: Roger Gilbertson, retired contractor.

Ellsworth: Eric Groop, kitchen manager; alternate Marcella Snider, former welder.

Glenwood City: Crystal L. Konder, self-employed cabinetry and framing.

Hager City: Albert Lang, print shop machine operator.

Prescott: Katharine M. Lauwagie, marketing assistant; Mary Rother, retired dairy farmer and homemaker.

River Falls: Patricia Neisius, cook, UW-RF food service.

New Richmond: James R. Nelson, welding supervisor; alternate Randall "Scott" Vogt, former Anderson Windows employee.

More information about the Citizens Panel can be found on the World Wide Web at http://www.uwrf.edu/polsci/citizens_panel.html

To learn more about the panel, call Schultz at 715/425-3318.

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