MADISON, Wis. (AP) — With more than 60 years in Wisconsin politics behind him, Democratic state Sen. Fred Risser of Madison isn’t showing any signs of slowing down.
The 90-year-old senator hasn’t missed a debate vote in 50 years, Wisconsin Public Radio reported. Risser, born and raised in Madison, served in the U.S. Navy in World War II and became a practicing attorney before being elected to the Legislature at age 29.
Wisconsin enacted the Indoor Air Act in 2010, banning indoor smoking throughout the state, after Risser spent 25 years working on the bill.
“And I think that has helped the state quite a bit,” he said. “It took a long time to work on that one.”
Risser said he’s particularly proud of his early support of and work in women’s issues.
“I was the author of the bill that took contraceptives off the indecent article list,” he said. “They originally were illegal in the state, and you couldn’t get them with a doctor’s prescription in some cases.”
Risser said there were no female senators or non-white people when he was elected in 1962.
“The state Legislature is much more diversified now, which is good,” he said.
Risser also has seen state politics become increasingly partisan over his career, which he said worries him. He said lawmakers ultimately need to answer to the people.
“The only answer, of course, is selecting representatives who will represent their constituents, and act in the best interest of the state,” Risser said.
He said voters hold big responsibility in the state and that low voter turnout concerns him.
“Until we get enough people voting, we’re not gonna get any change,” Risser said.