Loudenbeck, Schroeder agree to disagree in 31st
In the battle for the 31st Assembly District seat, the candidates disagree on almost every issue, giving voters a clear choice.
Democrat Ryan Schroeder, a Delavan city councilman, and Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, R- Clinton, are battling for the redrawn district that includes the towns of La Prairie, Harmony, Clinton, Turtle and Bradford in Rock County; the towns of Richmond, Darien, Sharon, Sugar Creek and Walworth in Walworth County; small portions of Beloit; one ward in Janesville and the villages of Darien, Fontana, Sharon, Walworth and Williams Bay.
For Loudenbeck, the election is about exploring new solutions for old issues such as school funding, jobs programs and transportation and economic-development related costs.
For Schroeder, the election is about restoring funding to schools and technical colleges, more transparency in government and reclaiming at least some funding for municipalities.
Schroeder lives about 1.5 miles outside the district but said he would move into the district if elected. The lines of all the districts were redrawn after the last census, and Schroeder is not the only candidate who would have to move if elected.
The candidates answered the following questions:
Q: Do you think the state's school funding system is working?
Loudenbeck: "Well, of course, it's not a perfect system," Loudenbeck said.
Even so, she said, it is a system that other states looked to as a model because it has created a formula to put the same amount of money behind each student.
In addition, the rules allow voters to approve additional local spending.
"If you want to go above and beyond, there is the option of going to referendum," Loudenbeck said.
In Beloit, voters recently approved a $70 million referendum, she noted.
Loudenbeck has been talking with officials from Blackhawk and Gateway technical colleges to see if the two schools could work together in specialized training.
Training for specific kinds of welding, work on high tech medical equipment or even cutting edge automotive technology requires expensive equipment. It doesn't make sense for each school to invest in all the equipment, she said.
She also continues to be interested in some kind of stateline careers and technical academy.
Schroeder: He took Loudenbeck to task for voting to cut cutting millions of dollars in education funding.
"I believe in having a strong educational system," Schroeder said. "My opponent also made additional cuts to technical schools."
He described the cuts as the largest in state history.
He was concerned about state funding being used to pay for school choice opportunities for the residents of Green Bay and Milwaukee.
"Unless people in the 31st district are sending their children to Milwaukee or Green Bay, they're paying a double tax," Schroeder said.
"We have always, historically, had a good school system," Schroeder said. "I'm worried about my son having the same kind of educational opportunities that I did."
Q: Do you think the livestock siting law serves all of the parties involved—the farmers, the towns and farm neighbors?
Loudenbeck: She supports the rules, saying they help businesses, farmers and towns know what to expect.
As a former town board member, she had some concerns regarding the costs to towns, she said.
"The main concern I have is about the burden on the towns to do due diligence and ask the questions they need to ask," Loudenbeck said.
Towns don't have the money to spend on attorneys and consultants to help them with the process, she said. Towns receive $500 to cover their costs in the permitting process, and Loudenbeck thinks that amount should be increased.
Schroeder: He supports the law, noting that his family has farmed in the area for many years.
"I think we really needed clarity on that issue," Schroeder said.
Uniformity was needed, and the siting law provides that, he said.
"If there have been unintended consequences, we can look at those, and perhaps we can do better."
Q: Towns and municipalities have been struggling with state aid cuts. Do you think they are adequately funded, and is there anything that can be done at the state level to help them operate more efficiently?
Loudenbeck: She said she remembers the challenge of trying to care for almost 39 miles of roads in her town.
"First, I don't think the transportation fund is where it needs to be," Loudenbeck said. "We did beef it up, but it needs to be better."
She would favor a statewide advisory referendum to see if taxpayers support limited tolling.
Increasing the license fee would be just another burden for state taxpayers, she said.
She could envision the state providing the legal and technical expertise for local government to deal with issues such as boundary agreements to share fire protection and other services, she said.
Shared services or combined departments aren't always the answer but could be considered, Loudenbeck said.
Schroeder: He was critical Loudenbeck's support of state aid cuts to municipalities.
Gov. Scott Walker told municipalities that Act 10 would give municipalities the tools it needed to deal with cuts.
Act 10 required public employees to pay more into their pensions and cut their ability to bargain collectively.
"In the city of Delavan, we couldn't fund two police officer positions," Schroeder said.
"We lost more in state shared revenue and in recycling grants than we ever from employees paying into their pension funds," Schroeder said.
He believes neighboring communities should explore ways to work with each other.
Schroeder said he has a record of promoting those kinds of relationships, both between communities and between opposing viewpoints.
When asked about dealing with a finite—and decreasing—pool of money for services, Schroeder said the key is making Wisconsin more attractive to out-of-state businesses and potential residents.
The negative publicity regarding Act 10 and the recall election hurt the state, he said.
Address: 10737 S. Highway 140, Clinton.
Job: Represents the 45th Assembly District, but restricting puts her in the 31st Assembly District. Previously worked for more than seven years with the Greater Beloit Chamber of Commerce in several management capacities. Former firefighter with the Town of Linn Fire Department.
Education: Graduated from UW-Madison in 1991 with degrees in political science and international relations
Community service: Vice president of the Stateline World Trade Association board of directors, member of the Clinton Historical Society and the Friends of the Clinton Public Library.
Elected posts: Clinton Town Board and state Assembly.
Address: 510 S. Seventh St., Delavan.
Job: Chief of staff to Rep. Josh Zepnick, D-Milwaukee. Schroeder took a leave of absence from his job to run for office.
Education: Graduate of Delavan-Darien High School, 1992; bachelor's degree in administration and public policy from UW-Whitewater, 2007.
Community service: Member and former president of the Delavan Lions Club; member of Delavan-Darien School District task force, Delavan Historical Society, the Temperance House committee, park and recreation committee and the Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Board.
Elected posts: Served on the Delavan City Council from 1999-2009 and 2011 to present. Served as council president and vice president.