Lisbon Dem seeks Assembly seat
Town of Lisbon — Democrat Jessie Read knows she has an uphill battle in trying to unseat veteran Republican Assemblyman Don Pridemore in the November 2014 general election, but she is running because she believes that voters ought to have a choice at the ballot box.
Read, of the Town of Lisbon, has noticed how many legislative races in heavily Republican Lake Country communities often go uncontested with the Republican candidate either seeking election or re-election unchallenged.
"I think it is terrible when voters go to the polls and don't have a choice, particularly at the state level," she explained.
"I know it is uphill, but I think it can be done, particularly if I work hard at going out and meeting people, going door to door, and give them my message. I don't think, Madison listens to the people anymore; it is all about big corporate money," she said.
Although he has had primary contests, Pridemore, while representing the 99th Assemby District, did not often have a Democratic opponent.
However, he now represents the newly created 22nd District, and when a Democrat attempted to run against him in 2012, that candidate was knocked off the ballot when state elections officials determined the candidate did not have adequate signatures on his candidacy petition.
The district, created in the 2010 reapportionment, includes all of the towns of Erin and Lisbon, the villages of Lannon, Butler and portions of the villages Richfield and Menomonee Falls. The Village of Sussex is not included in the district.
Pridemore, of the Town of Erin, was elected to the Assembly in 2004 when he upset a well-known Republican incumbent in a primary contest.
A staunch conservative, he has been highly visible in the district, particularly in his attendance at town and village board meetings. He made an unsuccessful bid for state school superintendent in the 2013 spring elections.
"It is an uphill battle for a Democrat. Whenever I have had a Democratic opponent, they have usually get about 25 to 30 (percent) of the vote," Pridemore noted.
Read made an unsuccessful bid in 2012 for Waukesha County Clerk, gaining about 30 percent of the vote in one of the state's — and the midwest's — most Republican counties.
According to Read, there will be at least three issues separating her and Pridemore.
Pridemore supports expanding Wisconsin's school voucher system, while Read opposes it. Pridemore argues that the voucher system is one method of providing competition for the public school system which he says has a monopoly on education. He says that monopoly is why the quality of public schools is slipping.
Read argues large corporations are supporting the voucher system because they want to privatize the state's education system. She believes public eduction should be strengthened by restoring funding levels that have been lowered during Gov. Scott Walker's administration.
Read is critical of Pridemore's voting record on issues relating to a woman's access to healthcare and equal pay and working conditions.
"He has not been very supportive of legislation that guarantee women their rights to access to healthcare and other issues," she said.
Pridemore said he is opposed to abortion. He added he supports a free market system and does not believe the state legislature discriminates against women.
Read says she wants to restore the public trust in government by supporting campaign financing and election law reforms.
"He has voted with a majority in favor of laws restricting voter access to elections," she added.
Pridemore said he supports laws requiring voters to have photo identification at the polls because they protect the integrity of the election system.
Read and her husband Russ have a 22-year-old son and have resided in the Town of Lisbon for 15 years.
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