Candidates for 91st Assembly District on higher education

Rep. Dana Wachs and Bill Ingram discuss their biggest issues and how they’d represent students



Left: Bill Ingram, R-Durand, is running for 91st Assembly District and worked for UW-Eau Claire police for 17 years, while also filling the role of sergeant. He’s running against incumbant Rep. Dana Wachs, D-Eau Claire, who has been representing the 91st Assembly District since he was elected in 2012. Wash is also a practicing trial lawyer.

Story by Andee Erickson, Projects Editor

The two candidates in the race to represent Wisconsin’s 91st Assembly District have converging opinions on most issues, but they both promise to address student concerns on campus if elected.

Incumbent 91st District Rep. Dana Wachs (D-Eau Claire) and his challenger Bill Ingram (R-Durand) are both looking to represent the 91st district that primarily covers urban Eau Claire and includes UW-Eau Claire and the Chippewa Valley Technical College.

Wachs has been co-sponsoring the Higher Ed, Lower Debt bill for four years now, a bill meant to allow students to refinance their student loans and lower interest rates, he said. The bill didn’t get a hearing until two years after it was written and Republicans, who make up the assembly majority, voted against it.

“Right now we have an entire generation of people that are drowning in student loan debt,” Wachs said. “We need those folks to be able to participate in our economy.”

Wachs said he’s passionate about education’s role in supporting a community and its economy, because when students receive a quality education from colleges and universities they are putting their ideas into the city and growing its economic development.

Examples include Jamf Software in Eau Claire’s Phoenix Park area, he said. Wachs is referring to Jamf software co-founder and former UW-Eau Claire music students, Zach Halmstad, who found a way to make Apple computers more manageable for enterprises while studying at the university.

“The key to future economic development,” Wachs said. “I believe is educating as many young folks as we can in the university and the technical schools.”

Wachs currently serves as the ranking democrat on the college and universities committee as well as the judiciary committee, which he said are two of the assemblies busiest and he’s hoping to stay in those positions.

Ingram spent 17 years as a Sergeant for the UW-Eau Claire police, during that time he gave presentations informing students and listening to their concerns. He said he’s more than fit to address the needs of college students through listening sessions and meets with the College Republicans about once a week.

“But I’ll come and talk to anyone,” Ingram said. “Anyone that wants to come and invite me to a classroom, wants to sit down, call me up, once I get elected.”

During his years with campus police Ingram says he helped make the campus more accessible for wheelchairs. He spent two days in uniform riding around campus in a wheelchair inspecting for places in need of updates because of poor wheelchair accessibility.

Ingram serves on the governing board for the Aging Disability Resources Center where they help disabled elderly receive the benefits they need without charge, he said. The biggest issue he wants to address if elected is ensuring human services are better provided to the elderly and those with disabilities.

“I mean this community is aging and this has always been a union town, a student campus town, but when I went out and as I’ve talked to people those issues aren’t as important to them as I’ve paid my entire life to these programs” Ingram said.

Voters in Wisconsin’s 91st District will also choose between contested Senate and presidential races on Election Day, or earlier if participating in early voting.