It has been widely reported that this will be the year of the Independents and Third parties. This news comes from media sources not only in Wisconsin, but the nation. Locally, one candidate, Jay Selthofner from Green Lake is really shaking up party politics. As we toured his district, Selthofner’s campaign yard signs were literally positioned near by the campaign yard signs of every other candidate seeking an elected position. Folks around here may not be used to seeing an Independent on the State Assembly ticket, but they know talent, passion and common sense when they see it.
When you drive through the district, you will notice that Selthofner’s campaign signs are positioned next to Feingold, Johnson, Rob Taylor, Kallas, , , Neuman, Barrett, Langer – all candidates in local races – and his signs were even spotted next to those of his competition, Joan Ballweg. People in the district are ready for change and it shows by the diversity of Selthofner’s supporters.
Jay’s main competition, Incumbent Joan Ballweg (R-Markesan) is no stranger to pot (marijuana). Joan Ballweg had co-sponsored a Industrial Hemp bill which made it through committee but ultimately never was scheduled for a vote. This type of legislature has continued to fail again and again under the current leadership in Madison.
The Industrial Hemp bill (Assembly Bill 206) was bipartisan, having both Republicans and Democrats supporting it. Party politics and misunderstandings about the differences between hemp and cannabis ultimately killed the Industrial Hemp Bill, and ultimately the medical marijuana bill for Wisconsin in 2009, just as in previous years.
Having worked with the district extensively to provide the information on what Madison was working on in regards to marijuana reform, Selthofner developed relationships with constituents. Selthofner provided a record number of signed letters from constituents supporting marijuana law reform, and he generated more phone calls to the district’s representatives than one could even answer. It was reported that “phone lines were busy when they tried to call the Senator’s office, they have several lines and to get consistent busy signals means we are lighting up their phones” said Selthofner in preparation for this interview. This was on a street side campaign in Oshkosh to make Senator Randy Hopper (R-Fond do Lac) aware of the support in the Senator’s district. Eventually Senator Hopper’s office gave activists the word that he understood his district supported the issue and ultimately named who he thought was holding up the medical marijuana bill.
Campaigning is very similar to educating when it comes to such a misunderstood issue. On the campaign trail, Selthofner found a diverse group of folks who supported his campaign, as well as reform for marijuana laws, but had yet to realize the true ramifications and impact these changes would have on Wisconsin. After talking with them about Industrial Hemp and Medical Marijuana, Selthofner realized that “most people do not have a true understanding of what hemp can do… food, fuel, fiber…. the medical aspect alone could mean a plethora of new jobs and industries…. and fortunately with my campaign, I hit all the usual political talking points of “JOBS, MORE EFFECIENT GOVERNMENT, LESS REGULATIONS RESTRICTING BUSINESS GROWTH, PROTECTING OUR ENVIRONMENT AND COMMON LANDS, ALTERNATIVE FUELS AND ENERGY” and really, who does not want improvement in those things. What is throwing people off is that I am actually trying to educate people about the uses for marijuana along the way, and offer solutions to our common problems. As soon as they connect the lines and draw the line and see that legalization of marijuana = jobs in all sectors, bio-fuels, foods, medicines, a new tax base, and improvement to our environment by a change in crops, well then the light bulb goes on.”
Selthofner closed the interview by saying “If you look at my campaign website, we have the information you need and sources sited to understand marijuana in all aspects. But first you need to understand the agricultural plant hemp cannabis and what types of products can be made from the plant. Look at field corn for example, we process that kernel of corn to its full extent. The data available on the hemp seed indicates it is superior for many of the same products we make from corn, but causes less harm to the environment, and provides a higher yield to the farmer. It just makes cents to use the hemp and cannabis plants. Once voters understand the plant and the wide variety of uses and the number of products created, as well as the history of why the plant is illegal in the first place, they understand and appreciate my passion for our platform. We are at the point now in the United States where the information shows overwhelmingly that marijuana laws currently prohibiting the plant in all forms do not work and are not good for our country, our common lands, and certainly are not helping our national security or border issues. Now, more than ever we must stand up as a State and move FORWARD with repeal of marijuana prohibition in all forms.”