11th senate: Democrat Rockwell challenges Kedzie for traditionally Republican seat
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ELKHORN Incumbent state Sen. Neal Kedzie, R-La Grange Township, is certain he is doing what the people of the 11th District want, and he wants a chance to serve a third term.
His opponent, Democrat L.D. Rockwell, says it’s time for change.
“I want to believe that the voters are entitled to an alternative,” said Rockwell, a Sugar Creek Township resident. “If you just keep giving the same prerogative, they don’t have any choices.
“I believe my ideology is better for the people than Sen. Kedzie’s.”
Kedzie said his record — he served in the Assembly from 1996 until 2002, when he took his current seat in the Senate — speaks for itself.
“I feel extremely positive,” he said. “My message of more jobs and lower taxes, less government, better opportunities for retirees resonates across the district.
“My constituents have been continuously supportive of that.”
He added that he puts on more than 35,000 miles a year traveling around the district, and as a result, he and his staff have a great relationship with his constituents.
“When you’re doing a good job, people reward you for it,” he said.
If Kedzie sounds confident, it’s with good reason, according to J.R. Ross, editor of the political website Wispolitics.com.
“This has been a very Republican seat and it appears to be a very Republican year, so Kedzie should fare well,” Ross said. “It could be a key race.”
Because of his long tenure in the Legislature, Kedzie has a list of accomplishments at the ready, most recently passing the so-called “bully bill,” which addresses how to handle bullying in state schools, and legislation mandating that quality interpreters be provided to the deaf and hard of hearing.
Rockwell is critical of Kedzie’s track record on environmental issues.
“His track record on the environment is really not that good,” Rockwell said. “The League of Conservation Voters and I are close. He sometimes supports them, and other times he doesn’t. His 2009 status report from the (league) was 42 percent, sop not very good.”
Kedzie cites deer-herd management, hunting seasons and groundwater protection as the primary environmental issues facing the state.
“I believe my experience as both an outdoorsman and former chairman of the Senate Natural Resources Committee would be of great benefit on this overall topic area,” he said. “I will continue to examine any potential revisions to Wisconsin’s current groundwater-protection law, and work toward consensus on such paramount environmental issues.”
It’s important to balance economic and environmental issues, he added.
Though both men cite job preservation and creation as a top priority, they have different ideas about how to attract business to the area. Kedzie wants to lure business with tax cuts and decreased regulations, while Rockwell wants to capitalize on federal funding, and jobs created by constructing high-speed rail.
“As a state, we need to do more to encourage growth in the private sector to stabilize our economy and get it back on course,” Kedzie said. “That begins with tax cuts and tax incentives for businesses, along with spending reductions for state government.”
Rockwell does not agree with Kedzie’s tax-cutting proposal.
“First and foremost, we can’t cut taxes and expect to win,” Rockwell said. “It hasn’t worked at the federal level, and it won’t work here. Having said that, we need some federal help. All the states do, for that matter.”
Rockwell wants the state to use federal funds to create jobs.
“(High-speed rail) is supposed to really create some good jobs; I think further investment in that would help,” he said.
Both candidates agree that district residents are worried about the economy, and that something needs to be done about it.
“They are as concerned as all other Wisconsinites are about what their future holds,” Kedzie said.
Read additional election coverage in the Oct. 24, 2010 e-edition of Walworth County Sunday, HERE.