Election Preview: Wisconsin 63rd State Assembly District
Incumbent Republican state Rep. Robin Vos takes on Democratic challenger Kelley Albrecht in Tuesday's election.
Incumbent Republican Robin Vos will face Democrat Kelley Albrecht in the race for the 63rd State Assembly seat in Tuesday's election.
Vos, 44, of Rochester, was first elected to the Assembly in 2004 and served as chair the Joint Finance Committee during the most recent legislative session. If re-elected, he said he will focus on creating private sector jobs by creating a better environment for businesses to thrive.
"I think it's very important for us to focus on creating private sector jobs," Vos said. "As a small business owner, I know government can create environments where people want to work and do business."
Vos said he's a strong supporter of the manufacturing tax credit, which he calls the "best economic development program in the country for manufacturers" and also wants to see broad base tax relief and revisions of all state regulations.
If re-elected, Vos said he'll focus on income tax relief during the next session and took part in a symposium looking at the income tax system in Wisconsin.
"What we've seen is that Wisconsin is a good place to be poor," he said. "We're at the bottom for states in what the poor pay in taxes, we're in the middle for what the wealthy pay and we're in the upper five in what the middle class pays in taxes.
"We need to tax relief for those who pay taxes."
Albrect vows to fight special interests
Albrecht, 42, of Burlington, said corporate interests are buying access to the current government, but if elected she will make sure her constituents have a voice in Madison.
"I believe that our government has moved away from representing the people," she said. "What we're supposed to do as representatives of the people is we're supposed to represent the interests of the people."
A former nuclear fuel handler turned stay-at-home mom, Albrecht said she wants to grow small businesses in Wisconsin through proper education of children. She also wants to listen to the concerns and ideas of of people in the community to find solutions to benefit everyone.
Albrecht said consumers create jobs and by supporting local businesses, people can make the economy thrive and create better opportunities for workers. She said she also supports revising the state's tax code to make sure everyone is paying their fair share and businesses are held accountable if they take tax dollars.
"We need to listen to the small business owners," Albrecht said. "My opponent touts himself as a small business owner, but to them, a small business owner is a millionaire. We just need to get real and get to work."
Disagreement on Act 10
Vos is still supportive of the highly controversial Act 10 bill, which limits the collective bargaining rights of public sector employees, because it has created cost savings for school districts and local governments in order to avoid tax increases.
"I think Act 10 accomplished the goals we wanted," Vos said. "We wanted to put the power into the hands of the taxpayers and elected officials, not the special interests."
However, Albrecht called Act 10 nothing more than "an egregious attempt to bust unions" that Vos and others who support Right to Work legislation liked because it went further than many other states have to stem collective bargaining.
Two approaches to education
Vos said he's optimistic the state will see new revenues into the state coffers created by job growth the past two years, that doesn't mean some of the reductions in state aid to school districts should be restored. He said some districts, such as the Burlington School District saved $1 million by bidding out its health insurance.
To strengthen the state's educational system, Vos said he wants to reward good educators with incentives earned via a merit pay system and to make sure reforms are put in place at schools failing to make the grades on the Wisconsin Department of Education's school report card system, which measures student achievement.
Vos said he wants to make sure parents are involved in the reforms to the schools and look for ways to encourage more parents to get involved in the school system to create stronger schools.
"(W)e expanded school choice to help parents in Racine Unified (School District) help give other opportunities for their kids," Vos said. "When the new school report cards were put out, three out of the four high schools in Racine don't meet expectations, so why not give parents more choices."
Albrecht said if elected, she wants to take the educational system back to its former strengths before state funding was cut because lawmakers have unfairly put children in the middle of a political battle and created more problems for the system rather than addressing existing ones.
She also said she supports school choice, but wants to see accountability put in place for private schools taking tax dollars in order to prove they're meeting the educational needs of students.
"I would like everyone to have a voice at the table and I'd like to see what they have to say," Albrecht said. "What we're not going to do is just ramming through education policy from ALEC fit for all states in the nation. We need to look at Wisconsin and Wisconsin needs to improve because I believe in our public education system."
Candidaes differ on Voter ID
Although the state Legislature passed a Voter ID bill in the last legislative session, the bill has been hung up in courts as opponents have deemed the bill unconstitutional.
Vos said a voter ID bill will be passed in its current form no matter what happens with the current court battle.
"When we come back in January, if this one liberal Dane County judge still says he represents the entire will of the state, we will pass a constitutional amendment if necessary," he said.
Albrecht said she isn't opposed to voter ID, but she's concerned the current legislation went too far because it wouldn't allow those with military IDs to vote, and because senior citizens or low-income residents without drivers licenses would not be able to easily obtain an ID. She said she would like to get all parties involved with the legislation to make sure a fair bill would be put in place.
"Even if one person is disenfranchised from voting, there's something wrong with that legislation," she said.
District has a new look
The 63rd District seat has new boundaries this year in the wake of redistricting prompted by population shifts in the 2010 census. The district stretches from Racine west to Burlington and includes most of Mount Pleasant and Sturtevant, and a small portion of Caledonia. (See map)
Wisconsin state representatives serve two-year terms and earn $49,943 annually. They also receive a per diem of $88 per day for each day they work in Madison.