Heroin topic of debate in attorney general race

Marisa Comeau-Kerege, Arts Editor

The race for Attorney General is on.  With current Attorney General, J.B. Van Hollen not seeking a third term in office, it comes down to Republican candidate Brad Schimel and Democratic candidate Susan Happ in the upcoming Nov. 4 elections.

The hot button issues for this race previously included whether or not to uphold the Wisconsin Referendum 1 of 2006 that banned same-sex marriage.  Now that the Supreme Court has declined to hear appeals from states that legalized same-sex marriage, this issue is no longer in their campaign agenda but remains a strong issue for some voters.

Another prime issue that has come up in this election is how to combat the current heroin problem Wisconsin is facing.

“We’re going to have to approach this from several different angles.  One is, we are going to have to do the traditional law enforcement, but better,” said Schimel.

Waukesha County, under his leadership, has led the state in prosecuting Len Bias-type homicide cases.  These are cases in which one person sells drugs to someone else and they die, the seller can be charged with first-degree reckless homicide.

“We’re also going to have to go after this with treatment,” said Schimel.  “We can’t just lock all of those people up, it wouldn’t be the right thing to do anyway.  We’ve got to find more effective ways to help people beat these addictions.”

Schimel proposes to organize and support more treatment courts and medication assisted treatments for addicts.

According to her campaign website, Happ also feels very strongly about the current drug problem in Wisconsin.

“We are facing a heroin epidemic that has its tentacles in every county of our state,” said Happ.  “Addressing the heroin and opiate epidemic will be a top priority for me, because I’ve seen firsthand the devastating effect that heroin has had on our communities.”

Happ, on the other hand, proposes to toughen sentencing on dealers that supply heroin.

“As District Attorney, I’ve aggressively prosecuted heroin dealers who put the lives of others at risk.  In most of those cases, it’s a prison sentence,” said Happ.

Happ also hopes to work with the community to educate the public about the dangers and availability of heroin and opiates.  Happ, as a member of the Jefferson County Heroin Task Force has worked with many different groups and organizations to get the word out about these drugs.

“We need to keep educating our citizens about the dangers of opiates, provide additional training to law enforcement, and work for additional funding for treatment and diversion programs,” said Happ.

In an interview with Schimel, he said he had two things he wanted our students and voters to know about him.

“…One is that I’m the candidate with the experience that can help make sure Wisconsin is safe for the future,” said Schimel.  “And I also want them to know that they can count on me to enforce the law the way that it is written and to defend our laws.”

We contacted the campaign office for Susan Happ for an interview, but received no reply.