Election 2014: Nass, Kilkenny face off
DELAVAN -- Area voters will choose a new state senator in the 11th District this fall, but the candidates are not new to elected office.
Democrat Dan Kilkenny, a Walworth County Board member, and Republican state Rep. Steve Nass face off Nov. 4 to fill the seat left open by former state Sen. Neal Kedzie's departure for the private sector.
The 11th Senate District includes most of Walworth County, the eastern portion of Rock County and smaller portions of Waukesha, Jefferson and Kenosha counties.
Each candidate's biographical information and response to questions follows:
Address: N3616 Elm Ridge Road, town of Darien
Job: self-employed attorney in Delavan since 1982
Education: bachelor of science degree in economics, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1978; law degree, University of Wisconsin Law School, 1982
Community service: chairman, Walworth County Technical Advisory Committee for Smart Growth, 2004 to 2009; chairman, Town of Darien Plan Commission, 2005 to present; child custody and placement mediator, Walworth County Family Court, 2004 to 2006; Wisconsin Department of Regulation & Licensing Task Force – Re: Cemetery Laws, 1998 to 1999; director, Land Trust of Walworth County, 2005 to 2009; secretary, Lake Comus Protection & Rehabilitation District, 2012 to present; Walworth County Children with Disabilities Education Board, 2006 to 2012
Elected positions: supervisor, Walworth County Board, 2006 to present; vice-chairman, Walworth County Board, 2010 to 2012; supervisor, town of Darien, 2001 to present; commissioner, Delavan Lake Sanitary District, 1991 to 1992
What do you see as the major issue in this race? The toxic partisan political atmosphere in Wisconsin. Our country was founded on the principle of checks and balances. George Washington warned us of the evils of one-faction control.
The latest legislative redistricting is an example. It was done in secret by attorneys for the Republican majority, at a cost to taxpayers of more than $400,000. The result: Over one-half of the 99 state Assembly seats will not have a two-party race on Nov. 4. Who will the "victors" represent if they have no real election to hold them accountable?
People should choose their representatives; incumbent politicians shouldn't choose their constituents.
What are your thoughts on the push to raise the minimum wage? It should be increased. Most employers and employees expect government to manage it periodically. It is unrealistic to require employers to pay more than an employee is worth. But I think most people at minimum wage provide far more value than $7.25 an hour and others provide only that value because that is all that is expected of them.
Most people can't live on the wage without government assistance. I think minimum wage workers and taxpayers want politicians to stop fighting and get something done now. Just a buck raise for someone working two jobs would be $4,000 per year. As a senator, I would work for an increase that was achievable and would benefit the deserving, hardworking poor.
What can state government do differently to encourage job creation? Abolish the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. We do not need millions of dollars of productive taxpayers' money being transferred to politically favored businesses. Instead use the funds -- not for handouts, but to make it easier for small businesses and individuals to become employers, employees and independent contractors. Simplify and combine federal and state employer regulations and insurance requirements.
People can't rely on big companies for lifetime employment at good wages anymore. We need to solve health care outside of employment. Cost and unavailability of health care hits small business particularly hard and distorts labor markets and mobility of employees.
Address: N8330 Jackson Road, town of La Grange
Job: owner of a small rental property business
Education: bachelor of science degree in political science, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, 1978; master's of education degree in School of Business Management, UW-Whitewater, 1990
Community service: member of the Wisconsin Air National Guard (retired, 33 years of service); post commander, Whitewater American Legion; member of Whitewater Veterans of Foreign Wars; member of Whitewater Morning Kiwanis
Elected positions: state Assembly, 1991 to present; Whitewater City Council, 1977 to 1981
What do you see as the major issue in this race? Continuing the successful efforts to reform government in this state. I will continue to advance and support policy initiatives that protect the interests of the middle class families in the 11th state Senate District.
The reforms in state budgeting and the positive fiscal impacts of Act 10 have allowed us to freeze property taxes on a statewide basis, as well as incrementally lowering state income tax rates for middle class families.
My opponent would prioritize the financial wants of government over the ability of taxpayers to pay.
What are your thoughts on the push to raise the minimum wage? I believe the best way for an individual to increase their income is by taking advantage of educational opportunities to develop enhanced skills and professional abilities.
An increase in the state minimum wage would have both positive and negative impacts on employers and employees. These impacts need to be thoroughly studied to avoid unintended economic consequences for entry-level job applicants such as high school and college students. If a minimum wage increase were to occur, it should be addressed on a national basis by the federal government.
What can state government do differently to encourage job creation? State officials need to be more honest in explaining that private-sector jobs are not created by government. Job growth is the direct result of private-sector businesses being in a stable financial circumstance justifying the risk associated with hiring more people.
State government can provide a positive regulatory environment and financial assistance to encourage employers to make the significant investments of capital necessary in creating jobs.
The state must strengthen its ability to market our state to prospective new employers looking for new sites and provide greater incentives for successful Wisconsin businesses to expand in the Badger State.