Wisconsin attorney general candidate visits Hudson
Jon Richards, a Democratic state representative from District 19 in Milwaukee, was in Hudson last week campaigning for a new job –- that of state attorney general. He pledged to be “the people’s attorney general.”
The two other Democrats in the race are district attorneys: Ismael Ozanne in Dane County and Susan Happ in Jefferson County. The winner of the Democratic primary on Aug. 12 would face Brad Schimel, the Waukesha County district attorney and the only Republican candidate. Current Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is not seeking a third term.
Richard’s campaign centers on protecting the state’s citizens from a variety of issues.
“We need to protect families,” Richards said. “We have heroin problems and Internet sex predator problems. We have to protect families from white collar crimes. We have to protect our environment and preserve our open meeting laws.
“I’m a champion of open meeting laws. The Department of Justice needs to clarify laws because there seems to be a lot of confusion out there.”
He also expressed concern about the direction of voting laws in Wisconsin.
He said Wisconsin has always had easy access to voting, but that has been chipped away in recent years.
“I think the courts will come to the rescue of Wisconsin voters,” Richards said. “There are some cases pending now.”
He also pledges a strong partnership with local police and local prosecutor offices.
“We need quick results from the state crime lab and the state hygiene lab,” Richards said. “Sometimes it takes up to nine month or a year to get results.”
He said in growing counties, like St. Croix County, we have staffing problems in the district attorney’s office.
“We have staff shortages and staffs that are underpaid. We have too much turnover; some of the local staffs just saw their first pay increases in 10 years. Now we must increase the number of people in the offices of growing counties. The problem is compounding each year.”
Regarding consumer issues, he said he wants to work on scams that target consumers, especially senior citizens.
“Somebody rolls into town, schedules a chicken dinner and gets people to invest their life savings in some ill-advised scheme,” he said. “I’m also concerned about Internet sex predators. The state has seen three cases that have slipped through the cracks –- two of the cases involved perpetrators molesting kids. That can never happen.”
Richards said there are at least two Wisconsin laws that he would not defend because he believes they violate the U.S. Constitution or go against the wishes of the people.
The first is a Wisconsin law that bans gay marriage. He said as attorney general he wouldn’t defend the ban because it conflicts with the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guaranteeing equal protection under the law.
The second, he said he would refuse to defend the law requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, which opponents contend would force the closure of two abortion clinics.
Richards said he would enforce environmental laws.
“We face a lot of new challenges, including mining issues like frac in this area and mining in northern Wisconsin,” he said. “We can’t allow people to come into the state and skirt laws, jeopardizing the health of our waterways.”
He said the state also must stop the spread of invasive species.
When asked whether he favored legalizing marijuana, Richards said he preferred to wait and see how the experiments in Washington and Colorado play out.