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Retiring Schultz optimistic about the future of politics
Green County Judge James Beer, left, shows Republican state Sen. Dale Schultz of the 17th district his office. Schultz met with and shadowed Beer during court proceedings Thursday at the Green County Justice Center. (Times photo: Tom Holm)
MONROE - State Sen. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, said he is comfortable with his decision to retire from the 17th district and is hopeful for the future of politics despite the recent gridlock.

Schultz, who is touring his district before giving up his 32-year political career in Wisconsin, visited Monroe to listen to the public Thursday at the Monroe Arts Center and talked about the legacy he will be leaving behind. Schultz was a member of the state Assembly from 1982 to 1991 when he was specially elected to the state Senate, the seat he has held ever since.

Schultz said the reason he is not seeking re-election is to spend time with his wife, whom he described as "the most wonderful woman in the world."

Schultz said he will not entirely leave politics behind him. As he has told his wife, "I'm not here to tell you it's totally out of my system."

He spent the day in Monroe shadowing Judge James Beer at Green County Circuit Court, touring Minhas Craft Brewery, stopping at Turner Hall for food and entertainment of yodeling and accordion playing, stopping by MAC for the listening session and finishing up at Yes Coffee Roasters.

Schultz said he hopes that future generations don't become lethargic about politics at a time when Congress has not passed as many bills as usual.

"This is not the "Gangs of New York,' these are people," he said, referencing the film of the same title. "The real test in the years to come will be the re-engagement of the ordinary citizen getting involved in government."

Schultz said he is optimistic that the younger generation will have a stronger presence in politics, and he pointed to his young staff members as proof. He said he sees a strong conviction in the youth, though "the older generation has always been grousing about young people." He said he hopes the youth do not become disenfranchised from voting.

Schultz also briefly addressed the 110 ballots that went missing in Monroe for the 17th Senate district Democratic primary between Ernie Wittwer and Pat Bomhack. Schultz said the process does not bode well for building confidence in voters, but that people could still rely on the system of government.

"I would argue it's not a perfect form of government, but it's the best one we've got," he said.

Schultz said one of the policy measures he is proud to leave behind is the Wisconsin Eye, a broadcast system that functions similar to C-SPAN - taping and playing real-time legislative sessions and committee meetings for the public. He said the tapes allow for greater transparency in the Legislature. He said Wisconsin Eye is not governmentally funded and relies on donations.

"It's the best 10 bucks you can spend in politics," he said.