Monday, January 10, 2005

Oshkosh Representative Underheim Cheats Voters of Representation

From the Wisconsin Democratic Party:

Oshkosh Northwestern

Editorial: Underheim must put voters ahead of his DPI dreams

Last year, Robert Welch kept his political honor intact by letting his state Senate term expire while making a bid for the more prestigious U.S. Senate.
The same cannot be said of our state Rep. Gregg Underheim. Last week, Underheim filed to run for state superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction. Rather than sit out the November election that returned him to office, or resign now, he will plan to stay in office and run for DPI. His decision will effectively cheat Oshkosh voters of representation.
A new legislative session started last week, making this a real slap in the face for voters. If Underheim wants to keep his honor intact, he will excuse himself from this talk of a bid for the DPI's top spot.
How quickly the man appears to have forgotten that his was a coveted seat.
Three other candidates wanted to represent District 54. They paid the price to "bid" for our "contract," spending hundreds of hours and dollars for the honor of representing the district.
If Underheim truly didn't want to be in office, he should have not run in November. Or, after winning, he should live with the results, give us representation for two years and let voters solve his career indecision in the next election. Now, if he wins the DPI seat after a Feb. 15 primary and April 5 election, Gov. Jim Doyle will have to declare an election to fill the seat.
There is more here than Underheim waking up with a new idea after the November elections. Ultra-conservatives in the Republican party asked the moderate Republican to politicize the non-partisan superintendent race.
It must have appealed because he has done that.
Underheim talked this past week about his priority of leading a discussion on the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights in the race. Education quality wasn't the priority.
Republicans with Underheim as the pit bull want to make life as difficult as possible for Elizabeth Burmaster, the present superintendent. That's one goal. It will please Republican party bosses in Madison to no end.
And, anyone who has doubts about Wisconsin as a political machine to be used for the convenience of ultra-conservative Republicans shouldn't have them now.
Oshkosh voters lose in a big way. The city needs a legislator to bring jobs here, preserve others from leaving, reform health care problems and work with community leaders. Instead, the city's representative will be diverted. Oshkosh will lack a legislator who gives 100 percent of his attention.
Underheim was elected to represent the people of Oshkosh in the Wisconsin Assembly through the end of the year 2006. He has a contract with the voters. He should honor it, because that's the issue here.
Underheim should do what is right, not expedient. He should resign from the race for state superintendent of DPI. His honor depends on him getting back to representing the people of Oshkosh -- and putting his dreams to use for the people who elected him.
The Final Thought: State Rep. Gregg Underheim should resign from the race for state superintendent of the Department of Public Instruction.
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