32nd candidates use forum to blame special interests
The four men vying to replace Rep. Thomas Lothian in the State Assembly told potential voters during a forum Tuesday that Wisconsin needs new leadership to free it from its fiscal crisis. Each agreed the system is in need of serious repair, much of which will take time.
"This budget is in bad, bad shape, and I think that anyone that tells you it's not in bad shape is either not paying attention or not telling you the truth," Republican Tyler August said. "It's the worst budget I've seen since I've been involved."
None of the candidates deflected blame to one party, instead agreeing special interests have cultivated few bipartisan efforts to fix the state's shattered economy. August said spending and borrowing procedures of both parties are in need of an overhaul.
The deficit is projected somewhere in the range of $2.4 billion. The state can be brought back to financial health, candidates said, but don't expect change overnight.
Independents Dan Kilkenny of Delavan and Rick Pappas of Fontana said the two-party system is the problem. Both used the opportunity to emphasize the effect independent leadership could have in Madison.
"The big issue is our structural deficit," Kilkenny said. "But it has two causes; one is special interests on the Democrats side and special interests on the Republican side."
Democrat Doug Harrod, a Badger High School teacher, even called out his own party for attacking the Wisconsin Patients Compensation Fund.
Questions were taken from the 30 people that attended the forum at the Lodge at Geneva Ridge. None focused on the economy, deficit or job creation, but rather intoxicated driving laws, health insurance and energy.
August of Walworth is the chief of staff for Lothian, who opted not to seek another term. August initially lost to Adam Gibbs by four votes in the Republican primary but was named the winner after a week-long recount inched him ahead 1,760 to 1,757.
Harrod was the lone Democrat to file in the race. Kilkenny is a general practice attorney and vice chairman of the Walworth County Board, and Pappas works as a small business bookkeeper.