Representative Gae Magnafici (R-Dresser) was recently in Grantsburg for a formal listening session to hear from the public.
Magnafici was elected to the State Assembly last year defeating Kim Butler for the District 28 seat formerly held by Adam Jarchow. Her district includes Towns of Anderson, Daniels, Grantsburg, Lincoln, Meenon, Siren, Trade Lake, West Marshland, Wood River as well as the Villages of Grantsburg, Siren and Webster.
About 35 people showed up for Magnafici’s listening at Crex Convention Center on Thursday afternoon.
“I’m here to listen to your concerns,” Magnafici said as people started getting seated.
It started a little tense with a woman, who defined herself as an independent voter, alleging Magnafici was not up front about her stance on abortion.
“I’m pro-life and was endorsed by Pro-Life Wisconsin during the campaign,” Magnafici said.
The woman continued to talk about fair funding for local schools and also said that Magnafici never responds to her questions via email or Facebook.
“When you were running I couldn’t find anything that said you were for charter schools and vouchers,” the woman stated. “Now I find this out only after you were elected. I believe that public education is the foundation of democracy and you’re hurting public schools up here.”
Magnafici said the decision to put their children in a public or private school is to be left to the parents. She was questioned about it diminishing public schools and taking money away from them and Magnafici repeated the decision should be left to the parents.
The tension eased in the room slightly and others began to ask questions and voice their concerns.
Many people in attendance wanted to talk to Magnafici about the proposed hog farm in Trade Lake, others wanted to talk about a survey sent to constituents. There was also discussion on Magnafici’s stance on local government control and even the criminal justice system.
A number of people thanked Magnafici for her service as an elected official but wanted to help bring more power back to the local government so small municipalities don’t have to go down to Madison to have themselves heard.
There was a lot of talk about Jarchow and his involvement with Act 67, which makes a number of changes to local government zoning authority and water permits.
“I’m a conservative and that didn’t make any sense to me,” one man told Magnafici. “We want you to represent us and give us back that local control that has been taken away.”
There was a woman that wanted grandparents and other family members that take care of children when the parents cannot, due to addiction, to be financially supported the same way foster parents are financially supported.
When the conversation inevitably shifted to the hog farm or concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) Magnafici spoke about the Department of Natural Resources and their involvement in the process.
“I understand this is a very big concern up here,” Magnafici started. “We’ve met with the DNR and I cannot believe the DNR would allow this CAFO. It’s a big issue in Burnett and Polk County.”
Then the conversation was once again shifted. This time to the criminal justice system.
Kayla Woody told Magnafici people are “constantly in and out of jail.” She added, “addiction is a disease but dealing is not.”
Woody continued to explain the current jail situation. 26 beds and right now 43 prisoners Burnett County is in charge of. A number of those prisoners are being housed in Barron County.
“The jail is shipping these people out of county and the transportation costs are outrageous,” Woody said. “How do we go about building a bigger jail?”
Magnafici responded, “I know we need more resources up here.”
Magnafici is scheduled to attend the meth forum at the Grantsburg Library on June 20 at 5:30 p.m.