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Candidates for 15th Senate seat spar at Rock County 4-H Fair

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Nick Crow
Wednesday, July 23, 2014

JANESVILLE--The Democratic candidates for the 15th Senate District tried during a forum Wednesday at the Rock County 4-H Fair to distinguish themselves from each other.

Austin Scieszinski, a former staffer and campaign manager for Sen. Tim Cullen, tried to turn his political inexperience into a positive.

"We need a new perspective and fresh ideas," he said. "Madison is a stale and stagnant place. Right now, people aren't getting results. We have to throw out the old book and try new ideas."

Mike Sheridan, the former 44th Assembly District representative and Assembly speaker, said his experience in Madison is a plus.

"I've been fighting for working people all my life," Sheridan said. "I have the ability to get things done."

Janis Ringhand, who has served in the state Assembly since 2010, touted her ability to seek compromise.

"I have the ability to sit down and listen, and that tends to be lost these days," Ringhand said. "I can work with people and talk with them and find a consensus."

Cullen, a Democrat, is not seeking re-election to the 15th District seat. Ringhand, Sheridan and Scieszinski face each other in a Democratic primary Aug. 12.

The primary winner will face Republican Brian Fitzgerald in the November election. He is unopposed on the primary ballot.

The forum at the fair Wednesday was hosted by Tim Bremel on his WCLO Radio show "Your Talk Show."

Ringhand said her strong suit is reaching across the aisle and working with everyone on problems facing the area.

Sheridan said his loyalties lie with the people of the 15th District and that his experience with unions and working residents makes him the ideal candidate.


Scieszinksi said the seat needs new blood, passion and enthusiasm and he is capable of bringing that.

The candidates discussed issues Wednesday ranging from the repeal of Act 10, to funding for schools, increasing jobs, redistricting and raising the minimum wage.

What spurred the most discussion was the creation of good jobs in the district.

Ringhand said its taking a toll on communities that parents need to work two or three jobs at a time. Everyone should have the ability to get a family-sustaining job, she said.

"McDonald's wasn't intended to be a career," Ringhand said. "This can not continue. It's taking a toll on parents, and that's just wrong."

Scieszinski said innovative ideas are needed to help small businesses start and grow.

"We've moved away as a society from a manufacturing one to a service one," Scieszinski said. "I don't think that's sustainable. It's all about jobs in the end, and we have to focus on realistic goals."

Sheridan said he would help create the right environment for companies to plant roots in the district.

"This is something I've been doing a long time," Sheridan said. "I care about Rock County, the 15th District and the people and want to put them back to work."

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