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7th congressional district Q and A: Here's where Duffy, Engebretson stand

Margaret Engebretson and Sean Duffy

Updated 9:15 a.m. Nov. 6, 2018 

Attorney Margaret Engebretson (D-Balsam Lake) is hoping to unseat U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Weston), who was elected to Wisconsin's 7th Congressional District in 2010.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this Q&A did not include answers by Sean Duffy (Republican, incumbent), who did not initially respond. His responses were added Nov. 6, 2018.

Margaret Engebretson

  • Age: 47
  • Address: Balsam Lake
  • Website: www.vetfordemocracy.com
  • Twitter: www.twitter.com/vetfordemocracy
  • Facebook: www.facebook.com/vetfordemocracy
  • Education: High School — St. Paul Central High School; B.S., University of Wisconsin-Superior; J.D., University of Wisconsin Law School
  • Family: Single
  • Occupation: Attorney
  • Civic involvement: Board Member of the Community Referral Agency domestic violence shelter serving Polk, Burnett, and Barron Counties; Secretary, Polk County Democratic Party; Active member of the American Legion.

Why should voters choose you?

These are no ordinary times. Right now, we need bold leadership that will fight — and fight hard - for the people of the district and for the changes that we need. As a veteran, a former union railroad worker, and a small-town attorney I know the district and understand the needs of its people. My whole life I've stuck up for people — it is who I am and what I have always been drawn to do. As an attorney, I focused much of my practice on advocating for the best interests of children and disabled adults. The bottom line is this - our elected officials take an oath to "support and defend the Constitution" and to "faithfully discharge the duties" of their office. I will fulfill this oath by being a fierce advocate for the district and by acting as a check on the other branches of government.

What role should the federal government play in combating the opioid epidemic?

To combat opioid abuse, we need a three-pronged approach of prevention, enforcement and treatment. A strategy that relies solely on law enforcement will not work. For example, local communities need support and assistance in addressing the acute shortage of addiction treatment opportunities. While the opioid epidemic was sparked, in part, by the practices of the pharmaceutical industry and its relationship with medical providers, we must also recognize that there are many in our communities who suffer chronic pain due to the overtaxing of their bodies through years of long work hours, be it at hard physical labor or through repetitive motion injuries. In combating the opioid epidemic, we must be careful to also respect the doctor-patient relationship in treating chronic pain.

Do you agree with President Trump's "America First" approach to international trade and foreign policy? Why or why not?

The security of our nation has always been a priority for me. That's why I joined the U.S. Navy after high school. National security, however, is not just about having the strongest military and the best weaponry. It's also about diplomacy, building alliances and fostering global cooperation. Our president seems to have forgotten that. The trade war launched by President Trump is doing tremendous damage to Wisconsin farmers and manufacturers. While it is true that we need to establish stronger global labor and environmental standards in our trade agreements, starting a trade war does nothing to accomplish that goal. In fact, it just makes it harder for us to work with our trading partners to create fair rules of global trade.

Is the United States doing enough to reduce carbon emissions? What can the federal government do to promote homegrown energy?

The United States is not doing enough to reduce carbon emissions. Climate change is real, and we are already beginning to see the financial, personal and community harm it is causing. To combat climate change and encourage clean energy, we must: 1) Require industry to reduce carbon emissions through measures like vehicle fuel efficiency standards; 2) Raise the cost of carbon emissions. This can be done while minimizing the financial impact on individuals through measures like a carbon fee and dividend, in which the money raised through a carbon fee is rebating back to the public on a per person basis; 3) Providing public support for the development of clean energy technologies and clean energy industry. The United States should also re-enter the Paris Climate Accord.

Is there any room left for bipartisan cooperation on substantive issues? If so, how would you work — or have you worked — across party lines on major items?

Throughout my life serving in the military, working in different professions and coming from a large family with Republican parents, I have lived and worked side-by-side with people with whom I fundamentally disagree on many issues. Despite these disagreements, I have always sought to abide by the golden rule that we treat others as we wish to be treated. I will bring that same perspective to Washington. While I will advocate forcefully for the needs of my constituents, I also recognize that compromise is necessary to get the business of government done.

Sean Duffy

  • Age: 47
  • Address: Wausau
  • Website: www.duffyforwisconsin.com
  • Twitter: www.twitter.com/Duffy4Wisconsin
  • Facebook: www.facebook.com/DuffyForWisconsin
  • Education: Duffy has a marketing degree from St. Mary's University, and a law degree from William Mitchell College of Law.
  • Family: Married to Rachel Campos-Duffy, and we have eight incredible children: Evita, Jack, Lucia-Belen, John-Paul, Paloma, MariaVictoria, Margarita, and Patrick Miguel.
  • Occupation: Attorney
  • Civic involvement: Co-Chairman of the Dairy Farmer Caucus, Chairman of the Responsible Hospitality Caucus, Co-Chairman of the bipartisan Congressional Great Lakes Task Force

Why should voters choose you?

It's been an honor to represent central, northern, and Western Wisconsin for the past eight years and fight for the place I'm from and the people I love. I’m running to continue to fight for policies that help Wisconsin families achieve the American Dream. I’ve fought to lower taxes for Wisconsin businesses and workers. As a result, a  typical Wisconsin family will receive a $2,508 tax cut, jobs are coming back from overseas, and workers have more opportunity. Just a few years ago, we saw “going out of business” signs because small businesses throughout Wisconsin could not handle the taxes and big-government regulations that liberal politicians put on them. But now, because of the reforms I’ve fought for, more people in Wisconsin are working than ever before, wages are rising, and the future is brighter for our kids and grandkids.

What role should the federal government play in combating the opioid epidemic?

Opioid abuse in America kills more people each year than car accidents. We must do everything we can to stop it. At a recent Law Enforcement Roundtable I held with local sheriffs, they told me that 90% of heroin and meth that devastate Wisconsin communities enters our country through the southern border. It is absolutely critical that we secure our border to stem the flow of these drugs. I have fought for more than $10 billion to combat the opioid crisis, the largest ever investment of its kind. The funding includes new tools for states and tribal governments for treatment and prevention measures. It also includes $130 million for a Rural Community Opioid Response, aimed to specifically address the abuse issues that have devastated our rural communities. The fight isn’t over, and I will continue to work my heart out to defeat this epidemic.

Do you agree with President Trump's "America First" approach to international trade and foreign policy? Why or why not?

Make no mistake, other countries have been taking advantage of America for decades. China, Europe, Canada, and Mexico have exploited the United States when it comes to trade, and have taken wealth and jobs out of our country in the process. President Trump has made clear that the United States will no longer be the world’s piggy bank. China steals our intellectual property to the tune of $600 billion a year. Canada’s unfair trade policies have specifically hurt Wisconsin dairy farmers. And Europe distorts their pharmaceutical markets to force Americans to pay more for life-saving drugs. These are serious injustices, and President Trump has enacted tariffs in order to get free and fair trade for the American people. We are already seeing successes from that tough stance. For example, under the new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, Wisconsin dairy farmers now have access to Canadian markets that they never had before. 

Is the United States doing enough to reduce carbon emissions? What can the federal government do to promote homegrown energy?

I grew up in the beautiful Northwoods of Wisconsin, and I’m passionate about preserving the environment. Most of us call this part of the state home because we love to hunt, fish, canoe, kayak, and ski. We love the outdoors. I am the co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Great Lakes Task Force, which as part of its mission, focuses on Great Lakes environmental issues. Although I know we need to be good stewards of our environment, we must also balance conservation with economic development and growth. Efforts by President Obama to reduce carbon emissions greatly overreached and threatened the viability of many manufacturers, forcing the loss of many jobs. Working together to find the right balance is important to all parties involved. That’s why I’m an advocate of an “all-the-above” approach to energy policy. 

Is there any room left for bipartisan cooperation on substantive issues? If so, how would you work — or have you worked — across party lines on major items?

Of course we can! As I mentioned, I’m the Co-Chair of the bipartisan Congressional Great Lakes Task Force, a group of representatives that focus on a wide range of issues affecting our Great Lakes economy and environment. Although we may hold different views on other issues, we certainly find common ground when it comes to protecting our Great Lakes and the many people who depend on the Lakes for their jobs. I have a strong record of working with representatives on both sides of the aisle on commonsense solutions to today’s problems. In fact, every bill of mine that’s passed the House of Representatives has done so with bipartisan support. That being said, civility is missing in today’s political discourse. Just recently, two GOP candidates in Minnesota were assaulted, a GOP gubernatorial campaign manager in Nevada was assaulted, and a GOP candidate in California was attacked with a knife.

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