Vote 2016: Assembly Districts preview

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CSI Media, Gazette staff | November 3, 2016

31st Assembly District

Clinton Anderson, Democrat

Age: 22

Address: 1679 Prairie Ave., Beloit

Job: College student

Education: Graduate, Beloit Memorial High School, 2011; associate degree, University of Wisconsin-Rock County, 2016; student, UW Whitewater, present

Community service: Youth hockey coach in Beloit, 2014 to present

Publicly held positions: none

What should be done to fix Wisconsin's transportation funding gap and why? We can move money in the budget for transportation funding. We also may have to propose a slight increase in the gas tax. People are very disappointed that our infrastructure is so poor in Wisconsin. Our roads should be a high priority this legislative session.

Wisconsin school districts are going to referendum in droves. Should the state consider adjusting its revenue cap on school districts? Why or why not? We should definitely consider it. The revenue cap has not been keeping up with the needs of the schools. Class sizes have increased, programs are getting cut and school resources are negatively impacted. We need to invest in our children's education. The decrease in revenue has been hurting our children.

What do you see as the major issue in this campaign? There are many issues people have addressed to me. One that has been mentioned is clean government. People are not pleased with politicians working for their party and not for their constituents. They want nonpartisan redistricting and our government to be more ethical.
I would like to limit the time frame that bills can be proposed. We should also limit when they can take a vote on legislation.

Amy Loudenbeck, Republican

Age: 47

Address: 10737 S. Wisconsin Highway 140, Clinton

Job: Legislator and part-time farmer

Education: bachelor of arts in international relations and political science, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1991

Publicly held positions: State representative, 2011 to present; town of Clinton supervisor, 2010 to 2012

What should be done to fix Wisconsin's transportation funding gap and why? Sustainable, equitable and adequate funding for transportation infrastructure is critical.  As a member of the Joint Finance Committee, I will fight for the timely completion of Interstate 39/90 and for additional investment in local roads, bridges and highways. The solution must balance expenditures and revenues, just like a family budget.

I have been analyzing alternative funding mechanisms that could derive more revenue from all users of Wisconsin's transportation infrastructure system, including nonresidents, to ensure any solution does not place an undue burden on Wisconsin motorists. I also am eagerly awaiting the results of the DOT audit that was required by the Legislature to ensure that we identify and implement all potential cost-saving measures.

Wisconsin school districts are going to referendum in droves. Should the state consider adjusting its revenue cap on school districts? Why or why not? I am in favor of providing additional state support to our local school districts. In the upcoming legislative session I will work to ensure these resources are invested in educating our students and do not get absorbed by administrative overhead, redundant programs and nonacademic expenditures.

I will fight to ensure that increases in school funding are provided without raising the property tax burden on our families. This can be accomplished by providing either additional categorical aid or general school aid to local districts.

What do you see as the major issue in this campaign? Obviously, transportation funding and funding for K-12 education are major issues. State support for infrastructure and educating our children are important investments in the future to ensure Wisconsin long-term fiscal health and ability to remain competitive in a global economy.

Another major priority that I am committed to working on is supporting safe, prosperous communities. Safe communities, with appropriate infrastructure and amenities, provide the quality of life Wisconsin residents expect, while providing ample economic opportunities. This is truly critical as Wisconsin competes in a global marketplace, not only for business expansions and job creation, but also attracting and retaining the best and brightest to fill our workforce.

32nd Assembly District

Voters in Wisconsin's 32nd state Assembly District must choose Tuesday between a Republican incumbent and his Democratic challenger, an organic farmer and instructor who is new to politics.

Tyler August (I)

Age: 33

Address: 1151 Townline Road, No. 405, Lake Geneva.

Job: Before being elected in 2010, he served as Rep. Tom Lothian's chief of staff.

Education: Started out at UW-Eau Claire before transferring to UW-Madison and graduating with a bachelor's degree in 2005.

Community service: None

Elected posts: Current district representative

Rep. Tyler August, R-Lake Geneva, faces a challenge from Christine Welcher of East Troy. The district includes Delavan, Lake Geneva, the villages of East Troy, Bloomfield and Genoa City and the towns of East Troy, La Fayette, Spring Prairie, Lyons, Linn, Geneva, Bloomfield, Delavan, Burlington and Wheatland.

August, a seventh-generation Walworth County resident, was elected to the state Assembly in 2010 and is finishing up his third term. He serves as the Assembly speaker pro tempore, which is the second-highest constitutional officer in the Assembly.

Christine Welcher

Age: 39

Address: 2010 Division St., East Troy.

Job: Farm manager and student program director at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute, East Troy.

Education: Bachelor's degree from UW-Madison in 2000.

Community service: Member of Southeast Women in Sustainable Agriculture and East Troy Library Steering Committee.

Elected posts: None

Welcher is running as a Democrat, but she believes government officials should meet with and listen to who they represent, regardless of their political affiliation.

Below are excerpts of interviews with both candidates.

Q: What's the most important issue in this campaign?

August: Responsible spending and a balanced budget in Madison are top priorities for August, based on his past record and what he sees in the future.
“I'm driven to ensure the budget is going to be under control, and that we're only spending what we need to spend, and that we're sending the rest of the money back to the people who earn it.”

Welcher: The first issue Welcher mentioned was how rural schools are being hit financially and how she would like to ensure schools receive more state aid.

“Education should not be a partisan issue. Education should not be a profit issue. The rural schools really do get hit a little bit harder than the rest.”

Q: Where do you stand on increasing funding for the UW System?

August: August first said he “wholeheartedly” supports the tuition freeze to help Wisconsin families know the cost of a four-year degree.
He said the UW System's recent budget request is more reasonable compared to past requests, but he added that the system should be run in a financially responsible way.

Welcher: Welcher would seek more money for the UW System “so they can get back half of what was taken from them in the last budget.”
Welcher also brought up how UW Extension was hurt by recent budget cuts, with tight finances likely forcing program consolidation.

Q: Do you think municipalities should have more or fewer restrictions when it comes to taxing residents?

August: August supports a property tax freeze, saying “the hardworking families of Wisconsin who are paying the property taxes appreciate the fact that we've been able to hold the line on those.”

Welcher: Welcher said the state is not funding local governments like it used to, so municipalities are left scrapping for money to meet basic needs.

Q: What makes you a better candidate than your opponent?

August: August touts his leadership experience and the budgets he has helped balance, allowing taxpayers to keep their money.

He added that he has a history of bipartisan work, while Welcher signed a petition to recall Gov. Scott Walker. He described the recall process as “one of the most divisive situations we've ever had in this state.”

Welcher: Welcher said August does not spend enough time in the district he represents. She said she wants to establish a community citizen advisory board to keep in touch with what her constituents want.

43rd Assembly District

Allison M. Hetz, Republican

Age: 23

Address: 343 S. Janesville St. Whitewater

Job: General employee, Straight Forward

Education: Graduate, Badger High School, 2011; student, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, present

Community service: Food drive volunteer, Jitters Coffee House volunteer, trash cleanup volunteer around the Whitewater community, voter registration deputy, election poll worker

Publicly held positions: UW-Whitewater student body president, 2015-'16

What should be done to fix Wisconsin's transportation funding gap and why? We need to lay all of our options out on the table. Wisconsin is known for our tourism industry and for agriculture. Both require maintained roadways. I believe we need to maintain what we have first and make sure we aren't wasting money. For example, in the city of Whitewater we have a bridge that currently goes to nowhere. I do not want to see anymore taxpayer money wasted. We need to make sure expansion projects are needed and that what is currently in place is in good condition first.

Wisconsin school districts are going to referendum in droves. Should the state consider adjusting its revenue cap on school districts? Why or why not? This is an issue that we certainly need to take a look at. We need to fund our K-12 schools while at the same time protect our homeowners from a massive increase in property taxes. As far as the referendums are concerned, I believe in more local control and the fact that voters will be able to decide whether to give schools in their area more funds.

What do you see as the major issue in this campaign? There are several issues my campaign focuses on, but one particular issue is education funding. K-12 schools need to be adequately funded. These kids will be the next titans of industry and are the leaders of tomorrow. If they cannot do basic math, our state and our country will be in bad shape. On top of that, the UW system needed some cuts to be made, however, we need to stop cutting our assets, which is why I do not want to see further cuts to the universities in Wisconsin. But I do believe student debt is a huge problem that we are not addressing. I am very much in favor of furthering the tuition freeze while we sort out how to help young adults in our state.

Don Vruwink, Democrat

Age: 64

Address: 24 W. Ash Lane, Milton

Job: Retired teacher

Education: Bachelor's degree in broadfield social studies and political science with minors in history and coaching, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, 1975; master's degree in history, UW-Whitewater, 1986

Community service: 20-year member of Milton Park and Recreation Committee, founding member of Milton Optimist Club, member of Milton Historical Society, member of the Milton Gathering Place, member of the Milton Historical Preservation Committee

Publicly elected positions: Milton City Council, 2011 to 2015; city council president, 2014-'15; Milton School Board, present

What should be done to fix Wisconsin's transportation funding gap and why? The harsh reality is that due to years of shortsighted budgeting and planning by legislators and the governor, our road transportation infrastructure is crumbling. I am encouraged to hear current legislative leaders from both parties acknowledge the need to increase revenue for our roads budget. However, it is disappointing to hear the governor continue to say he won't consider increased revenue for roads by way of a gas tax increase. Nobody likes to increase any taxes, but when local roads are falling apart, townships are reverting to gravel and our highways and bridges need repair; we need to make tough decisions.

It was a mistake by the Legislature to end the gas tax indexing a decade ago, and it's time to reinstate gas tax indexing to allow for future growth. I will be willing to discuss a gas tax increase and other revenue options to address our road infrastructure problems.

Wisconsin school districts are going to referendum in droves. Should the state consider adjusting its revenue cap on school districts? Why or why not? Yes, the state should consider adjusting its revenue cap on school districts. Act 10 has caused school districts across Wisconsin to rely on referendums to simply meet operating costs. More and more, districts are passing referendums because community members acknowledge the benefit of successful schools. An investment in local schools is an investment in the local economy, as companies considering where to build, relocate or expand weigh the quality of local schools in their decisions. Ensuring access to good education is an investment in the future success of our state. I dedicated my career to public education and have a lifetime of experience seeing the many benefits that good schools bring to their communities.

What do you see as the major issue in this campaign? I believe investing in our schools and fixing transportation are two critical issues.

I also believe the Legislature cannot properly represent the people of Wisconsin when the current majority has worked to isolate and shield the Legislature from public scrutiny and accountability. I am running to be a strong advocate for good government. I want to take a page out of former Sen. Tim Cullen's handbook and continue a steady drumbeat in favor of nonpartisan redistricting reform. I am an ardent supporter of maintaining and strengthening Wisconsin's open records laws and find it shameful that the current majority has attempted to weaken open records laws. I will fight to restore transparency and accountability to state government.

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