GOP 32nd Assembly candidates offer ideas
Nearly 60 people attended the two-hour forum presented by the Republican Party of Walworth County at a hall near party headquarters here. It was the first such forum for the candidates. Another forum remains to be scheduled.
The candidates are Tyler August, John Finley, Adam Gibbs, Dan Necci, Mel Nieuwenhuis and Thomas Stelling.
A primary election will be held Sept. 14. The top vote getter will represent the Republicans in the fall general election.
Incumbent state representative Tom Lothian, a Republican, is not running for re-election.
August, chief of staff for Lothian, said state employees must increase contributions into their pensions to shift costs away from the state. He suggested retirement benefits be shifted to plans traditionally offered in private industry.
August argued that his experience at the capital would serve him well as a state representative. August stressed that he would resign if he ever voted for a tax increase.
Gibbs proposed an absolute freeze on property taxes. He argued that with rising taxes and falling property values, the incentive to own homes is disappearing.
Gibbs added that he wanted to elevate state government to a new standard.
“I want people to be excited about their elected officials,” Gibbs said.
John Finley, a former Delavan alderman, said he would try to enact legislation that would require all state lawmakers to take a 50 percent pay cut until the state’s unemployment rate falls below 5 percent.
“If they (representatives) only make $22,000, people in Walworth County used to call that a real living,” Finley said of his reduced pay proposal.
Necci, an attorney based in Lake Geneva, said many of his clients have been financially and emotionally hurt by government regulations.
“I see the carnage that those failed policies have cost my clients,” Necci said.
Necci said government tax increases on business must be turned around because they hurt the state’s business climate.
Easing regulations and downsizing government would lure small and large businesses back to the state and Walworth County, the candidates all agreed.
Nieuwenhuis, the Delavan mayor, said his eight years of experience as mayor and three years as alderman qualified him as a candidate for state office.
“People have told me they have lost their jobs, tapped out their 401ks and are on the verge of losing their homes,” he said. “We need to get people back to work.”
Nieuwenhuis said the state’s move to increase the costs of regulatory fees and licenses is killing small businesses and must be stopped.
Stelling, an architect from Burlington, said he has never held office before, “which at this point is a good qualification.”
Stelling said he began his business 30 years ago during a recession and is surviving the current recession. His business experience is needed in Madison, he said.
The state’s budget must be balanced without dipping into money set aside for specific improvements, such as highways and transportation, Stelling said.
On the immigration front, most of the candidates agreed that the rising numbers of Hispanics here should be embraced, as long as they are here legally.
“We’re a nation of immigrants,” August said.
Gibbs said the county’s tourism and service industries draw immigrants. Finley complained that the state supplies forms written in Spanish to those in need of gun permits and driver’s licenses.
Finley and Nieuwenhuis proposed that English be made the state’s official language.
Stelling and Necci said the state should adopt laws similar to the controversial Arizona immigration laws that were overturned by a federal court.