As an emergency room doctor, Erik Severson knows how to assess a bad situation and prescribe a course of action.
Severson (R-Star Prairie) hopes to bring that mindset to Madison after the Nov. 2 election.
The rural Star Prairie man is running for the Assembly District 28 seat currently held by Ann Hraychuck (D-Balsam Lake).
"I'm running because things are going in the wrong direction," he said of the state's current legislative leadership.
Severson said the current reliance on government bailouts and stimulus packages are the wrong kind of prescription for what ails the state's and nation's economies. Making state government larger through additional spending also is a bad idea, he added.
"There's excessive taxation and excessive spending going on," he said. "In my reading of history, that doesn't fit with the solution we need. We need less government. I don't believe government is going to solve our problems."
Instead, private businesses and hard working Wisconsin residents will help create a better future, Severson said.
"They need government to get out of the way," he said.
That goal isn't going to be achieved, Severson claimed, unless voters support candidates who are willing to make tough decisions and who aren't relying on re-election to keep their job.
"This is not a job I plan to keep after I get elected," Severson explained. "I'm not a politician. I'm not going to do this for my career."
After serving in the Legislature for a few years, Severson said he intends to return to work as an emergency room doctor in Osceola.
Knowing that fact, Severson said, would allow him to vote on proposals based on what's good for the state.
"I won't cut deals with special interest groups, like those who are doing this full time," he said. "They'll say anything and do anything to stay in office."
That anything-goes attitude also carries over to the negative campaigns that voters are subjected to every couple years, Severson added.
"Instead of talking about what they believe in, they rely on personal attacks," he said. "That's the kind of atmosphere we can do without. The whole system can be done a better way. I want to run with that kind of integrity."
Severson said the role of state legislator was designed so that residents from all walks of life get a chance to represent their constituents in Madison. Too often, he charged, those elected officials spend too much time in Madison and not enough time in their home districts.
"You have to be able to listen to people and talk to them," he said. "That's a lot of what you do as a politician. It's what I do as an emergency room doctor."
Severson's dissatisfaction with the current state of affairs was what led him to run for office this year. He admits that it's been a time consuming effort, but the end result will be worth the fight.
"I'm not one to sit back and say 'I hope somebody takes care of this,'" he said. "I've got to help do the work. It's important work."
As he continues to hit the campaign trail, Severson said his message is resonating with voters.
"The majority of people are saying that I'm right on," he said. "They agree with me."
An Esko, Minn. native, Severson didn't plan on becoming a doctor until he was in college. His father, professor at the University of Minnesota-Duluth Medical School, advised him against going into the profession.
But when Severson studied in Israel for a college semester, he caught the medicine bug.
"With medicine, you can reach out and help people anywhere," he said. "I decided that I really wanted to do medicine. It was the confirmation that I wanted."
Severson attended Mayo Medical School and completed his residency with the University of Minnesota rural family practice program. He spent a year in Fargo, N.D. and then spent time in Waseca, Minn.
"That's where I really started enjoying the emergency room," he said. "There are a lot of different reasons why I like it. You're seeing someone with a problem and you take care of it. You deal with the problem."
Severson and his family have lived in the rural Star Prairie area for a little over five years.