Chippewa Valley resident to try for gubernatorial run

Young business owner wants to stop political polarization



Story by Nick Erickson, Managing Editor

About six months ago, Chippewa Falls native and owner of Pioneer Painting Dennis Fehr was driving down the road listening to talkshow radio.

The 2009 Chippewa Falls High School graduate had experience in business management as well as manufacturing and engineering, but he was also interested in politics, and he knew of the stalemates and bickering between the Democratic and Republican parties on all levels.

On this particular November day, a host on the talk show he was listening to said something that encited movement in Fehr.

“One of the radio announcers I was listening to said, ‘You know, if there was anybody reasonable out there, I’d vote for that guy,’” Fehr said. “And I was thinking the exact same thing, you know, why can’t I find anybody who wants to work together?”

Fehr took that as a challenge, and he now finds himself about 700 of 2,000 needed signatures deep to put his name on the ballot and challenge Republican incumbent Scott Walker and Democratic challenger Mary Burke for Wisconsin’s Governor.

After starting his own business several years earlier, Fehr went back to his entrepreneurial ways and founded the People’s Party, one he said would challenge the idea of the two-party system and put the ball back into constituents’ court.

“I’m trying to bring together the best ideas, the best people, and I don’t really care what party they’re from, to create a good mixture of ideas
and how to solve problems for the people you’re trying to represent,” Fehr said.

Fehr is running on a five-point plan: smart government, tax reform, judicial system review, lowering the drinking age to 18 and entertaining the idea of using marijuana for recreational use.

As a business owner, Fehr said he has plenty of experience hiring people and dealing with the company’s finances and taxes, which is why he is actively pursuing simplifying the tax code and making it easier for people to get out of troubled situations and contribute to society.

“They both feed into the overall efficiency standpoint of the People’s Party,” Fehr said.

He is also attacking two social issues that have been hot topics of conversation in government recently, the drinking age and recreational use of marijuana.

Fehr said he uses the word “considering” for both of these issues, because he wants to have honest conversations with people about what government should and shouldn’t restrict, which is basic premise for the People’s Party.

“People should ultimately have the responsibility and accountability for their own actions,” he said. “And if people want something done, their representation should take them on.”

UW-Eau Claire senior Ryan Hamilton said he values a government leader who is willing to listen to people about social issues instead of shooting things down because of traditional ideas.

“If you think about it, we don’t all believe in the same political values,” Hamilton said. “If we’re going to have a democracy and make things last and work out for the best for everybody, I think that would be the best idea.”

Roger Briski of Al’s Painting in Eau Claire has worked with Fehr on several projects. He said Fehr is aggressive, determined, a sharp guy who thinks outside of the box and sociable, which he said should make him a legitimate candidate for governor.

“I like the way he laid out his five-point plan and how he related it back to the family,” Briski said. “It’s people’s opinions that matter, and that’s kind of what he’s platformed.”

“A Future for the Family” is the visible slogan for the 24-year-old’s campaign, one the Chippewa Valley region’s own hopes will not only earn him a spot on the gubernatorial ballot come November, but make him a serious thought to run the Badger State from his office in Madison.

“If we can bring together the best ideas from all the platforms and the best and the brightest on,” he said. “We’ll be able to provide a foundation for a family that can do anything.”