Janesville58.9°

It's a three-way race for 32nd Assembly seat

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Kayla Bunge
October 22, 2008

Republican incumbent Thomas A. Lothian is resting on his years of experience in government, working in the partisan arena, making decisions and serving people.


Democratic challenger Doug A. Harrod says he might not have legislative experience, but he knows how to communicate to achieve compromise, something a lot of politicians aren't willing to do.


Independent candidate John K. Finley doesn't have a party to which he must answer, which allows him to focus on finding practical ways to solve problems, he said.


The 79-year-old state representative from Williams Bay, the 63-year-old high school teacher from Genoa City and the 56-year-old alderman from Delavan are candidates for the 32nd Assembly District, which covers the southern half of Walworth County.


Education

All three candidates agree the K-12 education funding system needs an adjustment.


"The funding formula is unfair," Lothian said.


He said the formula, which distributes money to school districts based on property value, doesn't take into account the financial capability of poorer district residents. That's true for many school districts in Walworth County, where not all residents are wealthy lakeshore property owners, he said.


Harrod agrees.


"A district with a big property tax base gets less money from the state, but that doesn't mean that district is wholly wealthy," he said.


Finley said some working families and many senior citizens can't afford increasing school taxes. He suggests the funding formula should take into account residents whose children attend school in the district.


Health care

For as much as they agree on school funding, the candidates disagree on health care.


Lothian believes transparency, competition among providers and consumer involvement will drive down the cost of health care.


But Harrod said that's simply not enough.


"There are still going to be people who don't have access," he said. "And I can't think of anything more important than having access to affordable health care."


Harrod sees potential in Healthy Wisconsin, a plan the Senate Democrats proposed last legislative session to provide universal health insurance coverage.


"I think it needs to be revisited," he said. "But, even as the Democratic Party states, there need to be major adjustments to it."


Finley, on the other hand, said the state could lead the way with "common sense changes" such as a government-run preventative care plan.


"The more we catch early, the more (money) we save later on," he said.


Taxes

The candidates also differ on taxes.


Harrod said too many people view taxes as something negative when really they should look at taxes in terms of what they provide: infrastructure, social programs and education.


"But I want to be sure my taxes are being used wisely," he said. "I plan to look very closely to see if we're getting enough bang for our buck. There are dollars to be saved if we have better oversight on how our money is spent."


Finley agrees.


"The taxes should reflect the benefits," he said. "You have to efficiently apply the tax money you collect."


But Lothian feels people are taxed too highly.


"We're taking too much money out of people's purses for the government to spend," he said.


BIOS

Thomas A. Lothian


Age: 79


Address: 539 Park Ridge Road, Williams Bay.


Job: Retired professor of chemistry at the University of Illinois-Chicago


Education: Bachelor's degree in secondary education from Ohio State University; master's degree in chemistry from Illinois Institute of Technology.


Community service: Williams Bay Lions Club


Elected posts: Assembly representative, 2002-present; Walworth County Board supervisor, 1982-1994; Williams Bay village trustee, 1972-1980.


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Doug A. Harrod


Age: 63


Address: W1815 County B, Genoa City.


Job: Health teacher and alpine ski racing and track and field coach at Badger High School in Lake Geneva.


Education: Bachelor's degree in health and physical education from Illinois State University.


Community service: Genoa City Lions Club; mission trips and other service projects through Immanuel Lutheran Church in Lake Geneva.


Elected posts: None


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John K. Finley


Age: 56


Address: 201 W. Washington St., Delavan.


Job: Self-employed security consultant


Education: Trade school; studied journalism at UW-Whitewater.


Community service: Delavan Board of Zoning Review, 2000-06.


Elected posts: Delavan alderman, 2006-present.



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