The first of several candidate forums leading up to the November general election was held Thursday, July 26, at the New Richmond Civic Center. The forum featured contenders for the Democratic nomination for the 7th Congressional District Seat, Margaret Engebretson of Balsam Lake and Brian Ewert of Marshfield. The seat is currently held by Republican Sean Duffy who was unable to attend the event.

Engebretson stated that advocacy lies at the heart of her campaign. In her practice as a lawyer, she advocates for the best interests of children and disabled adults. She promised to bring her fighting spirit to Washington, to fight for what is right, to bring resources back to the 7th District, to see that the wealth of the country is shared equitably and to change the trajectory of the country to put it on a path of viability and fairness.

Ewert was motivated to run for Congress by what he saw as an attack on healthcare for the very people he has spent his life serving as a doctor and by a tax law which weakened Medicare. Ewert plans to employ his leadership skills and penchant for making sound, informed decisions even when those decisions are difficult to Washington where he feels decision-making has been more than reckless. Ewert supports the United to Amend movement that says corporations are not people and money is not free speech.

Over the course of the 1.5-hour forum, both candidates expressed views on a wide range of issues ranging from Act 10, the president's tariffs, term limits, Chronic Wasting Disease, national debt, sanctuary cities, gun violence and Supreme Court nominations.

Ewert shared with audience members his number one objective, should he be elected, would be to provide universal affordable healthcare for all Americans.

"Healthcare is a fundamental human right. We need to build on the previous work that has been done which means we need a Medicare for all option. We need to do this in such a way that we address the 28 million uninsured and the millions of people who are inadequately insured so that they can opt into Medicare. The power of that is that they will get their medical care independent of an insurance company and we will have the power to bring down pharmaceutical costs," explained Ewert.

Engebretson agreed that healthcare is the number one concern she hears about as she travels around the district.

"We are in a healthcare crisis. Our healthcare costs are out of control. I support a single payer, Medicare for all public health insurance program that will cover everyone and will be with you from the day you are born until the day you die and it is guaranteed. We need to phase out the private health insurance industry. That will bring down costs quite a bit. We also need to disconnect the relationship between employers and employees with their healthcare," said Engebretson.

Engebretson believes communities know best how to police themselves and that the federal government has been politicizing immigration issues as a way to cut funding and strong-arm fair-minded communities.

"We need local police to be able to gain the trust of the communities in which they work. It makes them safer and it make the communities they serve safer. These racially charged, divisive, political tactics regarding immigration are wrong and they are harming all of us. The federal government needs to back off and allow our cities to police the way they see fit. This all being built up to scare people and used as a way to cut funding and punish liberal communities. It's wrong. The more we politicize things that shouldn't be politicized, we all lose, no matter what party you belong to, what income bracket you're in, we all lose when politicians do this. It's one of the reasons I'm running," said Engebretson.

Ewert lays the responsibility for the recent tariff turmoil squarely on the shoulders of Congress.

"The Constitution is clear, tariffs and international commerce are the responsibility of Congress. Clearly this Congress has chosen to delegate this responsibility to the president and the Congress now needs to pull it back. Our farmers have worked for years to develop global relationships. Every fourth row of soybeans was headed to China. We've now heard that we're going to tap $12 billion of taxpayer money to try and cover that.Fifty percent of the cheese from Wisconsin goes to Mexico. Clearly having those markets destroyed in a matter of weeks which took years to grow is going to devastate our dairy industry and our cheese making. We need to find ways to support our dairy farmers using programs modeled during the New Deal. We need to build on those programs so that family-sized farms and local farms can continue to be our producers. We need to stop outside financiers from coming in and extracting wealth from Wisconsin and leaving us with poisoned aquifers," said Ewert.

To hear the forum in its entirety tune into Northwest Communication Channel 6. The forum will be aired at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 3 and 12:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 4.

Community members are also reminded that a second forum featuring the candidates for Wisconsin's 29th Assembly District, Republican incumbent - Rob Stafsholt, Democrat John Rocco Calabrese and Libertarian Brian Corriea will take place Oct. 11 starting at 7 p.m. at the New Richmond Civic Center.

Questions for that forum can be emailed to Deadline for receiving questions is 5 p.m. Oct. 10.