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MELCHERT AIMS TO BRING BUSINESS EXPERIENCE TO THE ASSEMBLY
When he purchased the Rock Island, Ill., Air America affiliate WKBF-AM in October 2006, Quad Cities Media owner Randy Melchert said the station was struggling.
Melchert said he received “a lot of nasty mail” when he “pulled the plug” on the station's liberal content provided by Air America, which he replaced with a Christian talk format. In addition to the format change, Melchert said he invested in new digital equipment that cut energy costs and began leasing air time to community organizations.
One of those organizations, a Latino broadcasting group, was able to do well enough that it is now in a position to buy the station, which he is in the process of selling.
Now Melchert wants to apply that experience to turning around state government as he vies for the Republican nomination for the 24th Assembly District seat being vacated by Republican Rep. Suzanne Jeskewitz. The district encompasses Butler and Germantown, the majority of Menomonee Falls and portions of Richfield. Other Republican primary candidates include Dan Knodl of Germantown and Jason LaSage and Michael Moscicke, both of Menomonee Falls. Democrats running include Charlene Brady and Torrey Lauer, both of Germantown.
“We cut our energy costs, increased our revenue; we were able to turn that around,” Melchert told WisPolitics. “We want to be able to do that with state government.”
Melchert says he's a lifelong resident of Menomonee Falls who has family roots that stretch back five generations. “It's not so much my home as it is my family tree,” Melchert said.
And while he is just 22 years old, Melchert already holds a master’s degree from Trinity International University, an evangelical college, and is working toward a second master’s degree in communication. Although he hasn’t held elected office before, Melchert said he worked to help pass the marriage amendment in Wisconsin and was active in zoning issues in Menomonee Falls.
A key issue Melchert wants to address is taxes, something he said he keeps hearing about as he knocks on doors in the district.
'We've made this state very hard to live in for families, for seniors,” Melchert said. “The taxes that we have here are just driving away families, companies, jobs and workers.”
Melchert also wants to rein in gas prices, which he said could be cut by as much as 10 percent by repealing the minimum markup law, cutting Wisconsin gas taxes to the national average and gaining federal approval to stop using reformulated gas.
Melchert also described himself as “100 percent pro-life,” and said he supports concealed carry and a photo ID requirement for voting.
As the campaign season has ramped up, Melchert said he's mailed out post cards and has been out knocking on doors, appearing in parades, and passing out yard signs and Packers schedule refrigerator magnets.
Melchert said the fact he is seeking an Assembly seat at such a young age has raised some eyebrows, but he see his youth as an asset rather than a liability.
“Really, it's a great advantage,” Melchert said. “I'm able to work harder; I'm able to go out longer; I'm able to knock on more doors, visit with more people. I've got enough energy to meet with tons of people.”
Many youth tend to lean liberal, and the fact he's a conservative has gotten him some notice, he said.
“A lot of people are just excited to see young people being involved in politics,” Melchert said, especially those who “are not just liberal Democrats … but people who share their values.”
View Melchert’s Web site: http://www.passportwisconsin.com/
Milwaukee Notes plans to interview other 24th AD candidates as the election season continues.