When BizTimes Milwaukee set out to create Wisconsin 275, a special publication profiling the most influential business leaders in the state, we sent a questionnaire to each of the 275 individuals that we picked to include on the list.
Most responded, and they provided some interesting and thoughtful answers to our questions.
Due to space limitations, we could only include some their responses to the questionnaire with their profiles in the print edition of Wisconsin 275. Extended profiles with all of their answers to the questionnaire will be added to the Wisconsin 275 website over time, and will be available for BizTimes Insiders.
In addition, we will be doing a series of stories about each question in the Wisconsin 275 survey and this is the first of those features.
We asked the Wisconsin 275: "What is one thing you would change about Wisconsin to make it even better?" Their answers to that question touched on a number of topics including politics, education, taxes, diversity and inclusion, and even the weather.
We will be doing several stories about how members of the Wisconsin 275 answered this question, with each story focusing on a common topic brought up in their answers.
For the first story about this question, we are going to share answers that related to the state’s political environment.
What is one thing you would change about Wisconsin to make it even better?Brad Binkowski, co-founder and owner, Urban Land Interests:
“Recognizing that we are all in this together to overcome inflamed partisan passions that demonize your political opponents. We need to work together effectively to solve big problems and issues.”
Joel Brennan, president, Greater Milwaukee Committee:
“I have been continually frustrated by the zero-sum game of Wisconsin politics, in which people of different ideologies believe that inevitably one side must lose for the other to win. I have been part of projects that brought together people of widely varying political beliefs to support education or economic development, and I firmly believe that we are missing out on opportunities because public policy is still a blood sport. Polarization is not a Wisconsin phenomena, but the political realities of living in a purple state seem to make it nearly impossible for people to even seek a middle ground or a third way. Not only should we get better at that, I believe we must if we want to be as competitive as possible in the region, the U.S. and the world.”
Hector Colon, president and CEO, Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan:
“The political polarization is growing to new levels that are not productive for the average citizen in Wisconsin. I would like to see people across the aisle working better together. This doesn't mean that either party should compromise their values but that we should look for opportunities to work together to address the needs and challenges we face as a people and state.”
Stephen Einhorn, partner and co-founder, Capital Midwest Fund:
“Wisconsin has a political bureaucracy that is honest, but only marginally competent.”
Emily Gruenewald, chief development and communications officer, Overture Center for the Arts:
“Politics has become so polarized and it is influencing how we interact on a personal level, too. No true progress can be made on any important issue if we approach a problem from an ‘I'm right, you're wrong’ perspective. The best ideas surface in respectful, engaged discussions. Let's bring back conversations and ditch the comments.”
Dr. Alan Kaplan, CEO, UW Health:
“I love Wisconsin, but we’re a divided state. Some people say we’re a purple state, but we aren’t. We are red and blue. I’d love for us to be more purple, because when we can work together it is better for people and for our patients, in my experience.”
Kevin Krentz, president and interim chief administrative officer, Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, and president, Rural Mutual Insurance Co.:
“Wisconsin is a phenomenal state. To make our state even better, we need leaders that genuinely care about their constituents. We need to elect and support those who will put the well-being of the state over partition politics.”
Cynthia LaConte, chairperson, The Dohmen Company Foundation:
“I’d require elected officials to publish a dashboard of our state’s rankings in the areas of education, public health, economy, crime and the natural environment. Then I’d make it a precondition that any elected official seeking re-election describe the specific legislation they sponsored to increase Wisconsin’s rankings in these areas. In a state with such a rich and successful history in progressive politics, we need to reconnect with the concept that politicians are supposed to promote our wellbeing.”
Barb LaMue, president and CEO, New North
“Not unique to Wisconsin, but getting to a point where there is more civil discourse - allowing the free exchange of ideas and beliefs to enhance understanding of different viewpoints.”
David Lubar, president and CEO, Lubar & Co.
“Wisconsin does not have a statewide initiative or referendum process which, with the signed support of sufficient number of Wisconsin citizens, would allow for a statewide vote to determine passage of a new law or repeal of an existing law.”
Mark Mone, chancellor, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
“Lessening the partisan divide. This holds us back in PR and substantive matters: budget priorities, economic development policies, etc.”
Michael Mooney, principal, chairman emeritus and co-founder, MLG Capital
“Our political parties need to eliminate their obsession with denigrating each other. We need them to be focused on bettering our lives. They have been elected to lead, not to undermine. My respect for each party has vastly diminished. Each has left the political center and gone to extremes. We need collegiality, sanity and common sense, not BS, false claims, baseless accusations and coddling of the small number of extremists. Highly respected polls, have consistently found that the silent majority has more sanity and wisdom than those on the far right and left.”
Andy Nunemaker, CEO, Groupware Technologies
“Wisconsin has so much going for it. I would love to change our election process to try to loosen the chokehold the two-party system has on our state and nation. I've been a public advocate for 5-forward, rank choice voting. I would love to see that passed in 2023 on time for the 2024 elections.”
Dr. John Raymond Sr., president and CEO, Medical College of Wisconsin
“It would be good for our state if the Legislature and governor's office could work toward common purpose.”
Andrew Wronski, managing partner, Foley & Lardner
“Our politics have been become almost as dysfunctional and adversarial as that in the country at large. That has been a pronounced (and unwelcome) change over my lifetime. A collaborative focus on what we have in common would serve us all -- and our children -- far better. There is tremendous opportunity in this state if we can find a way to work together and unleash it.”
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