Assembly candidates spar over Act 10, mining
ELKHORN Republican Tyler August said he's comfortable with controversial decisions he made in his first term as 32nd Assembly District representative, but his Democratic and Libertarian opponents said those decisions are reasons voters should consider a change.
Democrat Kim Peterson and Libertarian David Stolow oppose August. Both are political newcomers.
August has an advantage with district-wide name recognition. He also has deep ties to the Republican Party of Walworth County in addition to his roles in the state party organization in a district that votes overwhelmingly Republican.
The candidates were asked to comment on The Act 10 legislation, which eliminated most collective bargaining for most unionized public employees and requires them to make larger contributions to their health care and pension plans. The candidates were also asked to comment on mining in Wisconsin.
Q: What is your position on Act 10?
August: "I would go through the 61 hours on the floor of the Assembly again if necessary to retain Act 10," he said. "In the end, it is a way for the state to better manage employee costs, including myself, and to help meet our budget responsibilities.
"I understand why some people oppose the legislation," he said. "What I don't understand is the hate that went into that opposition. We ought to be able to disagree on policy without the hate, violence and destruction we saw in response to that policy.
"The public unions are still there if they choose to be, and they can still bargain for wages up to the cost of living," he said. "The public sector is now more in line with workers in the private sector. I see this as a positive move for the state."
Peterson: "I am opposed to Act 10, and I would vote to repeal it," she said. "Act 10 has affected millions of lives in Wisconsin, including me and my son.
"I am a single mom and a registered nurse working for Racine County," she said. "Although I'm a temporary employee, I work 40 to 48 hours a week. As a result of Act 10, I lost my union benefits, including health care coverage. That has resulted in an economic hardship for my son and myself.
"I lost my seniority and saw less experienced nurses hired into full-time positions ahead of me," she said. "I am president of the Racine County Federation of Nurses. In that position, I have seen what Act 10 has done to hard-working people and their families. Act 10 should be repealed."
Stolow: "I support the right of private unions to organize and bargain for pay and benefits," he said. "I do not believe anyone should be forced to join a union as a condition of employment.
"Public union employees, on the other hard, are paid by citizen taxpayers," he said. "In that sense, I can agree with reforms. For example, there must be some recognition between great teachers and bad ones.
"I agree with measures that build in competition to encourage better employees," he said. "I would like to see Act 10 expanded to include all public employees, not just state workers and teachers."
Q: What is your position on mining in Wisconsin?
August: "I voted for the bill that failed to pass the Senate," he said. "I believe it was a responsible bill that would have protected the environment, a responsibility the state has to its citizens.
"What I do not understand is voting against mining legislation simply because you don't like mining," he said. "I believe mining can be carried out responsibly. The proposal before us would have added jobs that are needed in the state and especially in northern Wisconsin.
"I will look at any changes in the original bill if presented to the Assembly, and I'll listen to environmental concerns," he said. "I am very sensitive, for example, to water quality. There's a lot of water in my district, and I'm committed to preserving water quality while looking for new opportunities for jobs."
Peterson: "I am a Native American with a deep sense of appreciation to the land," she said. "The proposed location for the mine as discussed in the last legislative session is very disturbing.
"The mine location could, and probably would, have serious negative impacts on tribal land in Ashland County," she said. "Yet, there was no effort on the part of those who supported this legislation to meet with tribal leaders to better understand what the mine's location would do to that land.
"I understand you can't move the location of a mine, the ore is where it is," she said. "But, when mining so close to lakes, rivers and streams, there comes a time when mining should not occur. There needs to be an open and thorough environmental study conducted in connection with tribal leaders with consideration of tribal interests."
Stolow: "This issue best illustrates my Libertarian principles," he said. "Government should not be in the business of mining.
"There is a role for the government to protect the environment," he said. "Water and air quality must be protected, and that's a legitimate role for government.
"On the other hand, job creation is not a legitimate role for government," he said. "That's the role of the market and private sector competition. State government should not be in the business of passing legislation to allow a mine to operate.
"Laws should be in place to protect the environment," he said. "If a business can operate within those environmental standards, then get government out of the way and let that happen. The market will determine if additional jobs can be created."
"The difficult task for Wisconsin is to ensure environmental protection while letting the market determine job creation," he said.
Address: 30-06 Lausanne Court, Lake Geneva.
Education: Graduated from Big Foot High School in 2001. Attended UW-Eau Claire and UW-Whitewater
Community service: None
Elected posts: Elected to Assembly in 2010
Address: W768 Dixon Drive, Burlington.
Job: Registered nurse at Ridgewood Care Center in Racine County
Education: Nursing degree from Gateway Technical College
Community service: Serves meals at Love INC in Burlington.
Elected posts: None
Address: 170 Highland Way, Lake Geneva.
Job: Retired from biotech industry
Education: Bachelor's degree from Stony Brook University, doctorate from Baylor University
Community service: Volunteer at Lakeland Humane Animal Shelter
Elected posts: None