I recently had an opportunity to speak with State Rep. Jon Richards, one of two Democrats vying to become Wisconsin’s next Attorney General.
Our discussion of Richards’ candidacy began with the customary, “Why did you decide to run for Attorney General?” question. Richards answered that he decided to run for Attorney General because he believes, “Wisconsin needs a strong leader in the Attorney General’s office who can fight to keep us safe and also stand up for the values that have always made Wisconsin great, like equal protection under the law, protection for our environment, standing up for voting rights, and making sure that people have access to decent healthcare.”
Richards also said that it was his belief that over the past few years the Attorney General’s office has neglected or even fought against the values he cited, and he also offered Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen’s leading role in the fight to exempt the legislature from open meetings laws as proof. Richards was clear he values clean and open government, and he cited the fact that he drafted an amendment to the State Constitution to reverse that decision. “I want to make sure we apply all the laws equally and fairly, but especially laws that have to do with clean and open government,” Richards added.
As we continued, I asked Richards what he believes sets him apart from the other candidates in the Attorney General race, and he was quick to cite his long track record of bipartisanship to make Wisconsin safer. Richards noted he worked with Republicans to pass stronger drunk driving laws during the last legislative session, and he also cited his bipartisan efforts to hold juvenile offenders more accountable and to give prosecutors the resources they need to keep our communities safe.
When asked what his top priority would be if elected Attorney General, Richards said public safety would be his top priority if elected, noting his track record of “getting things done” on the issue of public safety. To that end, Richards said he would work to ensure front line prosecutors have the resources they need to do their jobs, and he cited his long record as a legislator of working with prosecutors to give them the tools they need to keep our communities safe. As he continued, Richards also said he’d work as Attorney General to combat two epidemics in Wisconsin – heroin and human trafficking.
Another priority Richards said he’d focus on if elected Attorney General would be to keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them. Richards noted he authored a bill in the legislature that would require background checks for all gun purchases, and he noted that such universal background checks are widely supported.
Acknowledging his lack of experience as a prosecutor – experience both his opponents have – Richards reiterated his long track record of working with front-line prosecutors to give them the tools they need to keep our communities safe. Richards noted he was named Legislator of the Year by the Wisconsin Association of State Prosecutors for his work in the legislature on public safety issues.
As we concluded our discussion, Richards noted the broad support his campaign has received, having earned the endorsements of over 100 elected officials, including prosecutors, legislators, and law enforcement personnel. “People see that we need to change course in the Attorney General’s office,” Richards said, adding he believes he is the right candidate to bring about that change of course.