Waukesha native hopes to pocket some local support:
Young's focus on environment, social reforms

By Dennis A. Shook
Published October 10th 2002 in Milwaukee Freeman
Waukesha County lost a native in the gubernatorial race when Kathleen Falk was defeated in the Democratic primary Sept. 10.

But there remains a candidate from Waukesha County in the Nov. 5 general election.

Green Party nominee Jim Young acknowledged in a recent interview with the Freeman that he is a long shot. And a poll released Monday shows him getting support from 4 percent of those polled, so he is pretty accurate in his analysis.

But getting the Green Party message out is just as important to the Sun Prairie assessor as any dreams of defeating the seven other people in the race.

Before leaving for Dane County, Young grew up in Waukesha and his mother, Dianne, still resides at their traditional family home at 231 Douglass Ave.

Young is a 1978 graduate of Catholic Memorial High School. He points to his eight years as a lifeguard and swimming/diving instructor at Buchner Pool as his first public service.

Now Young, 42, is again trying to serve.

Campaign issues

"My campaign centers on the environment," Young said. "We need to clean up our resources. We need healthy food and clean water."

To make sure funds are available to achieve those goals Young proposes something that most of the other candidates have declined to suggest - raising taxes.

The most important and direct would be a "pollution tax," he said.

"We should look to tax industry and energy (generators) and the tax should go to help remediate the problems they cause," Young said.

Besides promoting a "sustainable environment," Young said he is calling for reforms in human and social rights, educational opportunity and the way democracy has operated in Wisconsin.

In the social area, Young said he would favor decriminalizing marijuana use while seeking non-prison treatments for others addicted to stronger drugs.

In the educational area, Young said a new approach is needed ... and maybe many new approaches.

"We need to have alternatives in education," he said. Those would include funding for charter and alternative schools within the public system.

But Young said he does not favor taxpayer-funded vouchers for private schools, even though he attended CMH and St. Mary's Elementary School.

As for democratic reforms, Young said the key is "true campaign finance reform. Right now, we are allowing corporations to spend huge amounts of money on campaigns and even sponsor debates."

Young said he would favor a political system completely underwritten by public funds.

"We're already paying, indirectly, when corporations can make those contributions," Young said.

Also among the reforms he would like to see are an initiative referendum program, which would develop legislation from groups of people with popular ideas. And he would also support proportional representation.

That would allow parties not in the majority to have representation in proportion to the amount of support they receive in an election, like European parliamentary governments.

Young said he would also work on reforms to the medical system to help seniors and those unemployed or underemployed.

Campaign pain

He may be receiving about 4 percent support in recent polls but Young holds no illusions that he might win when going up against Republican Gov. Scott McCallum and Democratic nominee Jim Doyle.

Young said the media is partly to blame for third-party and independent candidates being under-covered.

"Democrats and Republicans get free air time," Young said, citing the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association forum last week that featured only McCallum and Doyle.

Young said the inability of both major parties to work together in the state Legislature shows that another alternative is needed.

"I pride myself on being able to listen to people and work with them," Young said when asked how he would change the bitter political climate in the state Capitol.

He also pointed to the unexpected victory of Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura as evidence that people might be willing to consider an alternative party candidate in Wisconsin as well.