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Photos by Mary Murphy. Murphy works with UWO's IMC as part of the Student Titan Employment Program (STEP).

Troy Winkelman was one of a couple hundred people who packed University of Wisconsin Oshkosh’s Reeve Memorial Union ballroom Feb. 22 to hear U.S. Senator Ron Johnson speak.

“If any politician comes to campus, it’s once in a lifetime and it’s important to go,” said Winkelman, a UW Oshkosh junior studying English education and business. “I mean, it’s our senator. We only have two.”

Johnson appeared on campus to speak on the Constitution as part of the American Democracy Project lecture series. Johnson was originally scheduled to speak on campus in September as part of the Constitution Day events, which are held annually, but had to cancel due to congressional deliberations in Washington.

“The purpose of the American Democracy Project is to spur discussion about democracy,” said David Siemers, professor and chair of the political science department at UW Oshkosh, before Johnson took the stage. “We hope today’s talk will spur serious, but civil, discussions.”

Johnson spoke on the Constitution and mentioned the oath he took as senator to defend it. He also spoke on limited government issues, healthcare and spending.

“I’m trying to inform the American public; that’s why I’m here today,” Johnson said.

Kristin Heckel, a freshman studying accounting and finance, showed up to Johnson’s speech to be informed, she said.

“I really do enjoy politics,” Heckel said. “I love reading about what’s going on. I thought he was really inspirational, I want to be an accountant someday.”

Johnson, of Oshkosh, started his career as an accountant and went on to be a private sector business leader before becoming Senator.

Sophomore Marcus Hofmeister, an education major, had a personal connection to Johnson’s appearance Wednesday night. Johnson opened his speech with a reference to his morning attendance at the Washington D.C. funeral of an Army Lieutenant from Mayville recently killed in Afghanistan.

“My hometown is Mayville and this was really hard on our community,” said Hofmeister, who added he was thankful for Johnson’s acknowledgement. “David Johnson was the second man from our town to die.”

Hofmeister said Johnson’s well-attended lecture was also a reminder that, regardless of people’s political affiliations and ideaological differences, the nation needs to find a way to unite.

“It doesn’t matter what side you’re on,” he said. “We all need to come together.”

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