Superior, WI (Northland's NewsCenter) - Superior-native Dave Ross went from a being a small business owner to mayor all thanks to a phone call he made. It was another phone call that got him the job at the state capitol. A spot in Governor Scott Walker's cabinet.
Protests at the capitol to lawmaker scuffles with police and State Senators on the run: The chaos, stemming from Governor Scott Walker's collective bargaining bill, greeted Secretary Dave Ross just months into office.
"I speak all over the state, and travel extensively and sometimes I start out with the line it was really fun to have 100,000 people show up and encourage us as we move this budget forward. I say that tongue in cheek," Ross told the Northland's NewsCenter's Kevin Jacobsen.
Secretary Ross admits it was a stressful situation but says he agreed with the Governor's move saying there are winners and losers in any budget.
"The Governor strictly approached this from bringing the state back into a sound financial footing."
Now the secretary of the Department of Safety and Professional Services, Ross touches practically every life in the state.
"Our job is to not only make sure license holders are qualified to hold licenses, we also have an enforcement party of our activity, being a regulatory agency."
He leads a department of 400 across the state, licensing 130 professions from doctors to chiropractors.
"If someone holds a license and is doing harm to any of our citizen, we take action, and, we take strong action against the license holder. We get them in compliance or get them out of market."
Ross and his department are also taking the lead on making it easier for professionals to obtain licenses and work with other states to set similar standards.
He spends a lot of time on the road, meeting with field workers and businesses. The Superior-native credits his knowledge of the state to a past brush with state politics, when he campaigned for the seat of Lieutenant Governor.
"I only lost by about a quarter of a million points. It was not a close race at all. Coming from Northwestern Wisconsin, we knew from the very beginning this would be a big challenge. We traveled the state for 22 months. I was in every berg and every supper club in the state of Wisconsin."
What came out of the campaigning was the chance for Ross to work with Governor Scott Walker's transition team. Just months later, Walker appointed Ross to his cabinet, a position that would take him far away from his roots and family.
"The four of my children, son-in-laws, 12 grandchildren live here. It's usually the kids move away. This time mom and dad moved away."
He returned to Superior for the first time since moving to Madison in August for the city's Dragon Boat festival. He says he misses his hometown events, but welcomes the new challenges at the state level.
"I go to work every day energized, I love to travel, meeting people, and I like fixing problems."
Problems he'll continue to tackle he says, working for the people of Wisconsin.
Dave Ross was first elected mayor of Superior in 2003 and was re-elected in 2007 with an overwhelming majority.
Written for the web by Kevin Jacobsen.