Beth Drew, Republican challenger for the 43rd Assembly District seat, appeared to be reading from a Republican Party script—and not thinking for herself—when asked about issues by The Gazette Editorial Board.

While some answers from Democratic incumbent Don Vruwink were noncommittal—some might even say wishy washy—he appears to be keeping an open mind on issues and not parroting party platform. We believe he is the better candidate for the office.

The bottom line for Drew: Local control always is better. It’s what we have heard from all of the Republican candidates for offices of various levels.

On the idea of statewide policies governing police use of chokeholds and no-knock search warrants?

“Every community has a different feel to it,” Drew said. “The standard operating procedure needs to be able to have some leeway … and then there should be an overarching guideline. Communities should have the authority and the flexibility to operate within what their needs may be.”

“If we are lawful citizens doing as we are supposed to be doing, I don’t feel that we’re in any danger,” she said.

On a statewide mask mandate to combat the coronavirus? Drew is opposed.

“A one-size-fits-all approach is not in state’s best interest. Local control and a regional approach to this is the best option,” she said.

Sorry, but local control doesn’t always make sense. Some things—barring police from using chokeholds unless their lives are in danger and requiring masks to prevent the spread of a deadly virus—make sense everywhere.

Vruwink on police policies said he wants to hear from police, including officers who were his high school students.

“I’m taking an open-minded approach,” Vruwink said.

He would have welcomed debate on police policies during a special session of the Legislature called by Gov. Tony Evers. The session was opened and closed in 30 seconds without debate on any of the proposals.

“What we’re doing isn’t working, so we do need to make some changes, but I want those changes to come collectively as a group where we work with the police departments,” Vruwink said.

On the coronavirus, Vruwink believes a statewide approach is the answer.

“We’ve made this virus political,” he said. “To me it’s sad that we cannot as a state come together and decide what we need to do.”

“I don’t think we can be successful taking a regional approach when people keep traveling outside the region—go from one region to another,” Vruwink said. “We need to have a statewide approach that we all agree to.”

We were pleased to learn both candidates support the idea of passing legislation that would allow the creation of fire districts with taxing authority. Drew is on the Milton fire board and has seen the department struggle with staffing. Vruwink said public safety has to come first.

Vruwink is not an exciting candidate, but he thinks for himself, which leads us to believe he would do what he thinks is best for his constituents, even if it’s contrary to his political party’s position.

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