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Send Democrats to the State Assembly

Nov. 1, 2016
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It would be very difficult for Democrats to gain a majority in the state Assembly after the Republican majorities in both houses of the Legislature and Gov. Scott Walker redistricted the state so unfairly after the 2010 election. In fact, even though Democratic candidates won more votes than Republicans for Assembly races in 2012, they are deep in the minority, thanks to the GOP’s gerrymandered legislative map. Wisconsin’s districts are perhaps the most gerrymandered in the country and that is why a federal judicial panel is about to rule on a case before it that will probably end up with the U.S. Supreme Court deciding later this year or early next year whether these districts violate the U.S. Constitution. Unfortunately this is not the clean, honest, fair Wisconsin we grew up in. 

The legislative districts are so tilted that most candidates in our area—from both parties—don’t have a challenger on this November’s ballot. Their biggest challenges came during the August partisan primaries, where they competed with members of their own party for their nomination. These solid Republican or solid Democratic districts are probably the major reason our government has become so partisan. The majority of elected representatives don’t worry about a challenge from the other party, they worry about a primary from the extreme right if they are a Republican and from the left if they are a Democrat.

That said, there are a number of qualified Democrats in serious Assembly races on the Nov. 8 ballot who have earned the Shepherd’s endorsement. 

In the West Side’s Assembly District 7, incumbent Democrat Dan Riemer is the best choice. He is smart, dedicated and very focused on developing a common-sense transportation policy and supporting our public schools. He is active in his district and has earned his constituents’ trust.

In the western suburbs’ Assembly District 14, we strongly support Democrat Chris Rockwood, who is attempting to unseat Republican Dale Kooyenga. Kooyenga’s problem is that he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. As well-meaning as Kooyenga might be, there are issues in the City of Milwaukee that are much more complicated than he seems to understand, so his solutions to problems are often simplistic and a bit naïve. If these urban issues were as easy to solve as Kooyenga thinks, we would have solved all of these problems decades ago, not only in Milwaukee, but across the country.

Take, for example, his plans to improve public education, which seems to be the central issue in this race. Kooyenga authored the disastrous MPS takeover plan, which ultimately failed but was a useless distraction and a waste of resources this past year. Some suburban residents may feel that this isn’t important to them, but Kooyenga’s willingness to gut local control, undermine democracy and privatize locally controlled public schools and public assets that taxpayers have built up over the decades should concern them. That is setting a terrible precedent. The residents of Brookfield would not want the state coming in and overriding their local government on their local issues. Suburban voters should be very wary of what Kooyenga wants to do—and destroy—next, even if it is not in their neighborhood. 

Chris Rockwood, on the other hand, supports local schools and local control and won’t waste our time and resources on pointless fights. Rockwood is more interested in listening to what constituents want instead of imposing top-down “fixes” on local communities. You can find Rockwood’s answers to our candidate questionnaire at shepherdexpress.com

In Racine County’s Assembly District 63, special education teacher Andy Mitchell is taking on one of the most powerful Republicans in the state, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. Mitchell is everything that Vos is not. Mitchell supports public schools, is more interested in fixing problems than fueling his political ambitions and actually listens to people. Vos, on the other hand, if re-elected will use his leadership position and much of his time crafting his plan through the state budget and legislative procedures to begin the battle with Walker for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2018. Constituents will be better served by Andy Mitchell in the next two years and beyond. You can find Mitchell’s answers to our candidate questionnaire at shepherdexpress.com

In the City of Racine’s District 66, we support Democrat Cory Mason for re-election. His “Higher Ed, Lower Debt” bill needs to be taken up again in the next legislative session. The bill would allow those with student loan debt to refinance their loans, bringing great relief to students and families around the state.


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