Ringhand, De Forest battle for Dem nod in 45th District
EVANSVILLE The Democratic primary for the 45th Assembly District pits the incumbent from a different district against a Beloit City Council member.
Sheila De Forest, who is in her third term on the Beloit City Council, faces Rep. Janis Ringhand of Evansville, who is finishing her first term representing the 80th District. The new Assembly district lines put Ringhand in the 45th District.
Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton, is the incumbent in the 45th, but redistricting puts her in the 31st District. Under the new district lines, the 45th Assembly includes Orfordville, Evansville, much of the city of Beloit and the towns of Beloit, Avon, Magnolia and Newark.
The winner of the Aug. 14 Democratic primary will face the top vote getter from the Republican primary between Russell Rucker and Beth Schmidt.
De Forest and Ringhand responded by email to the following questions:
Q: What qualities make you stand out from your Democratic opponent?
De Forest: "I am not a business-as-usual, typical politician. I bring creative ideas, a willingness to go out on a limb, determination to bring unlikely stakeholders to the table and a focus on creating real solutions. I am a person of action. I see a need and address it. I don't just offer encouragement or support. I'm part of the solution.
"I also know how to secure resources the community needs, and I have a track record of doing so. I started two nonprofit organizations. I have also been successful throughout my tenure on Beloit City Council seeing priorities that I set out to accomplish to fruition," she said.
Ringhand: "My experience in business, local government and the past 18 months serving in the Assembly. I have years of experience working with my colleagues and constituents resolving problems at the local and state level," she said.
Q: What would you do to promote civility and work across the aisle?
De Forest: "I will focus on building relationships and finding common ground. The skills I have developed over the last 20 years have enhanced my ability to bring groups with seemingly opposing interests together with successful resolution.
"In my relationship with city council colleagues, differences of opinion are frequently expressed, yet a level of professionalism and genuine respect for each other continues to be maintained," she said.
Ringhand: "I have worked across the aisle this past session to promote job creation, improve enterprise zones, allow high schools to offer technical degrees, allow physician assistants to work independently within the scope of their training, helped veterans get job preference and more.
"I have an open-door policy and will continue to work with all my colleagues," she said.
Q: How would you increase economic development and bring more jobs to the area?
De Forest: "I have experience in creating development agreements with incentives that assist the recruitment of new businesses. A Development Opportunity Zone established in our area in 2001 proved beneficial, and I am pleased to see its renewal. Just as important, removing obstacles and providing support for small businesses and family farms to maintain the jobs we already have is critical.
"We need specialized work skills training in high-demand fields available to residents in our district. These efforts need to be coupled with better career path counseling and increased vocational and technical education opportunities," she said.
Ringhand: "I have been talking with businesses in the 80th and 45th Districts. They are aware there is a 'skills gap' that needs to be addressed to get the proper training for the jobs that are available.
"Our technical schools and government agencies are aware of this gap, also, and are working on a manufacturing technology center for Rock County. I support this program and will work to make it a reality.
"I have also voted for job creation bills and will continue to support new business startups and expansions of existing businesses," she said.
Q: Do you think the mining legislation could be revised to gain bipartisan approval? What should be changed?
De Forest: "This issue is too important not to work on a compromise. It can be done. As with all mining legislation, the importance of balancing job creation with efforts to minimize negative environmental impact is critical.
"I am in favor of streamlining the permitting process to reduce government bureaucracy for mining companies balanced with maintaining strong environmental standards. Addressing the cumbersome process while keeping mitigation requirements specific to the affected area should AB 26 move forward.
"When elected, I plan to visit Ashland County, the site of the proposed iron ore mine, to see the area in question and talk to all of the parties involved to understand the complexities of the issue and weigh its potential positive and negative impact," she said.
Ringhand: "The environmental issues need to be honestly and openly addressed, and all the players involved need to be at the table to discuss the possibility of making the mine work. The mine is a very complicated issue, and a few hours of hearings will not be enough to resolve all the issues that need to be addressed. A cost analysis should be conducted to make sure the cost of mining will not exceed the proceeds of what the mine produces," she said.
45TH ASSEMBLY—DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY
Address: 412 Fowler Circle, Evansville.
Job: State legislator, retired bookkeeper.
Education: Associates degree in business/finance, Madison Area Technical College.
Community service: Chairwoman of Stoughton Hospital Board of Directors, vice president of Rock County Literacy Connection.
Elected posts: Assembly 80th District representative, 2010-present; Evansville City Council, 1998-2002 and 2008-2010; Evansville mayor, 2002-2006.
Sheila De Forest
Address: 1035 Pleasant St., No. 3213, Beloit.
Job: Social worker and teacher
Education: Bachelor of Arts degree and Master of Arts degree in teaching from Beloit College
Community service: Community Action of Rock and Walworth Counties Board of Directors, Rock River Trail Initiative Advisory Council.
Elected posts: Serving her third term on the Beloit City Council