Representative Dick Spanbauer (R-Oshkosh) pleads with his colleagues for civility and bipartisanship. The retiring legislator says he enjoyed serving in local and state government for almost 38 years and regrets leaving the state legislature in such a polarized climate. “And I ask the question now again, why can’t we find a better way to work together and what has happened to compromise?”
Republicans and Democrats have been bitterly divided over the last year, stemming, in part, from the collective bargaining law. Spanbauer, who was elected in 2008, is serving his last term in the legislature; he says he’ll miss all the friends he made over the years on both sides of the political aisle. He remembers a time when there was a much more “hospitable atmosphere” under the Capitol dome. “You need to find that common ground again. That is, if you’re willing to. If this state is going to flourish … it’s imperative that this body put our pride aside and exercise the give and take that’s badly needed here.”
Spanbauer made his comments prior to delivering the opening prayer before an Assembly floor session last week. He also promoted civility, wisdom, and common sense. Bickering and polarization has led to nine recall elections last year and possible recalls this summer against the governor, lieutenant governor and four senate Republicans. Spanbauer asked lawmakers to leave the state a better place than when they found it.
Spanbauer is one of at least three Assembly Republicans who are not seeking another term. The other two are Michelle Litjens (R-Oshkosh), who was just elected in 2010; and Dan Meyer (R-Eagle River), who came aboard in 2000.
AUDIO: Jackie Johnson report 1:43