Conservative, liberal views clash in Wisconsin 38th Assembly district
A Libertarian and Democrat will attempt to unseat four-term 38th Assembly incumbent Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc) on Nov. 6. Libertarian Leroy Watson is no stranger to the campaign process, having run unsuccessfully for Assembly three times and for Oconomowoc Common Council nine times. Watson has said that he runs to make sure there is a challenger and also to promote the Libertarian platform. Democratic newcomer Scott Michalak of Marshall touts himself as a middle-class family man who will fight for working families.
Q What's your highest priority: the economy, jobs, health care, taxes or something else? How would you address this?
Watson: Get constitutional carry passed. It was supposed to be that, but the Assembly and Senate changed it to a permit and training to get it. The state wants to know who has a permit, so they can keep track of them.
Michalak: My highest priority is the economy and jobs, followed closely by public education. The middle class and manufacturing have been decimated by outsourcing and by corporate tax cuts funded by the middle class. I believe it's time for a real member of the middle class, who embodies their values, to represent them.
Kleefisch: Clearly our priority is to give employers tools they need to create jobs. That means taking government out of the way, creating tax incentives for businesses to expand and hire. There's specific reason Wisconsin is growing jobs while the nation is failing. Walker's reforms have created an environment for jobs expand.
Q What's your stance on Act 10?
Kleefisch: Act 10 was working, and one activist judge who believes it's OK to legislate from bench felt was OK to overturn it. I have full confidence this case will make to Supreme Court, and Act 10 will be upheld. The Legislature established by our founding fathers is meant to create laws, not judges.
Watson: I support what Gov. (Scott) Walker and Assembly, Senate did.
Michalak: I believe in contract rights, whether you're a construction contractor, a doctor, a lawyer, or a teacher, cop, fireman or snowplow driver. I believe $1.6 billion in cuts to public education has an adverse effect on our economy. Act 10 must be revisited and revised.
Q Beyond initiatives already in place, what can the state do to attract businesses?
Michalak: We need to fully invest in education and green industries, put people back to work by funding infrastructure improvements, tax cuts for businesses that buy 100 percent American-made materials and tax cuts based on job hiring first. However, we should prioritize keeping the businesses we already have prosperous and on growing our small businesses.
Kleefisch: We need to create a climate for businesses to come here, remain here and grow. We need to crate incentives so they can grow without the overburdening hand of the government. Without employers, there are no employees. Unfortunately, the Obama administration believes that clamping down on employers will somehow create opportunities for the middle class.
Watson: Be a business-friendly state. We should look at all types of business. Pass the mining bill.
Q Should the state implement a voter ID law?
Michalak: No. I am opposed to the existing voter ID bill largely because it discriminates against seniors and minorities. There are already cases where WWII veterans have not been able to vote because of disabilities. I would support a compromise bill that allows voters to acquire a voter ID in their local municipality.
Kleefisch: Definitely. The Legislature passed an ID law that is extremely reasonable. Right now you must present federal ID to get Sudafed from the pharmacy but not to vote; that's outrageous. Voting is a fundamental right. It's a simple thing, and they made it simple to get IDs. It should be no question
Family: Widower, no children
Previous elected offices held: None: ran for Assembly 2000, 2002, 2010; ran for Oconomowoc city alderman unsuccessfully nine times
Educational and military background: Washington High School, Milwaukee, some college; US Army 12 years active duty, 12 years Reserve Retired SFC; 28 years U.S. Postal Service retired
Family: Married, five children and three grandchildren
Previous elected offices held: None
Educational and military background: Associate's degree in business and economics
Family: Wife, Rebecca, children Ella Rose, 9 and Violet, 6
Previous elected offices held: Eight years in Assembly District 38
Educational and military background: Waukesha North High School, bachelor's degree from Pepperdine University, graduate courses at Marquette University
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