FOND DU LAC, Wis. (WBAY) – A race in the Fox Valley could play a role in changing the balance of power in the state Capitol.
Right now the state Senate is controlled by Republicans, who have 19 of the 33 seats. Democrats hold the other 14.
Eight of those seats are being contested — five currently held by Republicans, three by Democrats. Democrats need to keep their three seats and pick up three more to gain control.
One of those seats that could see some movement is the 18th District in the Fox Valley, which was held by a Republican last session. Now Republican Dan Feyen and Democrat Mark Harris are vying for that seat.
The Republican running in the 18th State Senate District is a long-time businessman in the Fox Valley.
Dan Feyen is a Wisconsin native, growing up in New Holstein
“After graduating from high school I went to Fox Valley Technical College, and after getting a diploma in printing I got a job here in Fond du Lac with a local printer.”
Feyen has held that same job ever since.
“I have worked in Fond du Lac for 29 years for the same printing company.”
At the same time, Feyen got involved in the local Jaycees organization, which is a young person leadership training organization.
“Got involved in a lot of community events doing that,” Feyen said. “I became their president in ’93-’94 and served on their board of directors for about 13-14 years as well.”
When Feyen felt he had out grown the Jaycees, he decided to get more involved with the Republican Party.
“2003, 2004 is when I got involved, and I have been chairman now for 10 years for the Fond du Lac Republican Party, and for four years for the 6th District Republican Party.”
Feyen is still the Fond du Lac Republican Party Chair, but he says there is more that can be done and that is why he is running for the 18th District State Senate seat.
“We have a lot of good things that the Republican legislature has done already, but we need to keep moving that progress forward here in the state.”
Feyen says that starts with closing the skills gap in Wisconsin
“Right now we have about 95,000 jobs available on Wisconsin Job Center website, and a lot of those are good skilled jobs that have good salaries that go with them — ‘family-supporting jobs’ is what I say.”
Feyen says kids need to know what kind of jobs are available to them once they graduate high school.
“We always tell them they should go to a four-year college, a university to get a degree, but if you to a tech school you can come out learning a trade, come out and get a job in one of those fields within about two years, virtually debt-free and get a good paying job right off the bat and away you go.”
He also says it will help the local economy
“There are a lot of good businesses here looking for good people, paying a good wage, and if we can get people into those jobs they will stay here in our area in Wisconsin and be a taxpayer for life here.”
Feyen says fixing the transportation fund is another priority.
“We need to make sure we don’t borrow as much money as we have been for transportation needs. We borrowed $850 million in the last biennium budget. It’s not sustainable, so we need to look for solutions to not borrow as much money. We need to prioritize and make sure we are doing our projects efficiently as well.”
And last but not least, being a father of two himself.
“I have a boy in UW Madison who is a sophomore, and a I have a daughter at Fond du Lac High School who is a senior right now.”
Feyen wants to make sure Wisconsin’s K-12 programs and colleges are properly funded.
“So what that really means we need to make sure — let’s just use Fond du Lac High School right now, where my daughter is — we need to make sure they have the adequate funding to run the programs that they need but we also have to make sure at the same time they are spending their money wisely, too, not just taking the extra million dollars they get or whatever and using it for whatever. It’s got to go into classroom needs, and I would like to see a lot more go into technical education hallways.”
Feyen knew running for state office wasn’t going to be easy
“Biggest challenge is just finding enough time in the day.”
But it’s a job he knows will make a difference.
“I’ve been out there doing doors, many, many thousands of doors talking to the people.”
And he says he is certainly up for the challenge.
“I hope they remember that I am going to continue the work of Wisconsin going forward. We are going to look to make things better here in Wisconsin. We are going to look to lower their overall tax burden while still maintaining the good program we have in the state — a good educational system, a good road system — but we are going to be very responsible with how we spend their money, I don’t view it as government money, I view it as their money.”