Brett Davis looks back fondly on time in Assembly
Davis, R-Oregon, leaves office Jan. 3 after representing the 80th Assembly District for six years. Rather than run for another term in 2010, he chose to run for lieutenant governor. He lost in the Republican primary in September.
"I wouldn't change a thing," Davis said.
His family supported his campaign, and his wife, Amy, held the family together as he traveled from one political event to another across the state during the first nine months of the year.
He said he worked hard in the campaign, visiting communities, attending parades (including 11 parades over the Fourth of July weekend) and making speeches. It was a long campaign, but when it was over, he was glad he ran for lieutenant governor.
"I did it because I wanted to help people on a wider basis," he said.
Serving the public was the reason Davis entered politics, he said.
Before he ran for the Assembly in 2004, the Monroe High School graduate worked as an aide to Rep. Mike Powers, R-Albany. He worked for Tommy Thompson when Thompson was governor and later when Thompson became secretary of the U.S. Department Health and Human Services.
Davis served on the Assembly education, financial institutions, renewable energy and rural affairs, and rural economic development committees in the 2009-10 legislative session.
"This has been an incredible experience," he said of his years in the Assembly. "It was challenging and humbling to have the trust of the people for six years."
When outside groups ran attack ads against him, voters in the 80th Assembly District didn't believe the ads, he said.
"They knew me, they saw me, and they talked to me. I was open and honest with people," Davis said. "They knew those ads weren't true."
Listening to people, whether they agreed with him or not, was his goal as a representative, he said.
Davis said he worked with Democrats and Republicans to pass legislation while in Madison.
"You have to govern," he said. "There were people who criticized me during the primary because I was willing to work with Democrats, but I was a never a bomb-thrower in the Assembly."
While a member of the education committee, Davis worked with Rep. Jason Fields, D-Milwaukee.
"I have tremendous respect for him. We hit it off right away," Davis said. "We were both interested in moving forward and getting things done.
"There are a lot of good people serving the state who have different points of views," he said.
Working with people with opposing viewpoints is not always easy.
"You can disagree with someone, but you can get things done if you're respectful of each other," he said.
Davis said his work on the education committee is a good example of working with people with differing opinions. He was chairman of the committee from 2006 to 2008 and was the committee's ranking member from 2009 to 2010. During his time on the committee, he was a leader in supporting virtual school education for students across the state. He was able to work with Democrats to keep virtual schools as an option for students and families who wanted an alternative education.
"There are lots of challenges when it comes to education. Education comes down to student achievement," he said. "Like everyone, I want my children to get a good education."
Davis said legislators will have to work hard as they try to solve the state's estimated $3.3 billion deficit next year.
"They have to take an honest approach and tell people how they plan to solve the deficit problem," he said. "I'm optimistic. We have people coming in who want to turn things around."
Davis wouldn't say if he will join the private sector or be involved with state government after Scott Walker, a Republican, becomes governor. He's keeping his options open, he said.
He plans to spend more time with his wife and their three children, Will, Audrey and Sam.
"We're going to spend more time camping and doing things as a family," he said.
He'll miss being able to represent the people in the 80th District. He visited the state Capitol on Dec. 21, probably the last time he will visit before his term ends, he said.
"It's bittersweet," he said. "I have a lot of good memories."