Gov. Tony Evers set a special election for April 30 to elect someone to serve the remainder of Peter Barca’s term. Barca has moved on to become state Secretary of Revenue.
A primary election for Democrats will be held April 2.
The Kenosha News reached out to Kenosha County Democrats who registered — Gina Walkington of Bristol and Thaddeus “Tip” McGuire of Somers — and sent them questions. Their answers appear today.
Also on the Democratic ballot is Spencer Zimmerman of Janesville.
Other candidates who will oppose the Democratic primary winner on April 30 are Republican Mark Stalker and Constitution Party Candidate Thomas Harland.
Walkington, who challenged Rep. Samantha Kerkman, R-Salem Lakes, last year, said she is “committed to creating meaningful change” for families and is a “dedicated defender of access to safe and affordable health care.”
McGuire, a legislative aide to Barca from 2009 to 2014, is an assistant district attorney in Milwaukee County. He said he would work for “affordable health care, workers’ rights, criminal justice reform, high-quality public schools and good-paying jobs.”
What do you see as the top priority for the 64th district?
Walkington: “I know we can do better by hard-working Wisconsin families to create meaningful change. There are so many issues, but I am most passionate about healthcare. After a preventative screening at Planned Parenthood found precancerous cells in my cervix, I became committed to advocating for access to affordable healthcare.
“Here in Wisconsin, we need to work with Gov. Evers to take the long overdue Medicaid expansion, make sure those of us with pre-existing conditions do not lose affordable coverage, reign in out-of-control prescription drug costs, and stand with Planned Parenthood to make sure women have control over their own healthcare decisions.”
McGuire: “Our top priority should be restoring the middle class in the 64th Assembly District and Wisconsin. For too long, the middle class has been squeezed by lower wages and rising healthcare costs. Further, working families have watched as cuts to K-12 education and the rising cost of college make the prospects for their children increasingly difficult.
“We must make sure that this economy works for everyone, not just those at the very top. We must restore worker’s rights that protect wages and safety, increase access to affordable healthcare, and invest in our schools again. We must insist on equal pay for equal work to ensure that all workers are treated according to skill, not gender or race. We can make home ownership and business ownership a reality instead of a dream for many young people by creating equal access to financial services and the opportunities to refinance their student loans.
“Wisconsin has a golden opportunity to restore the middle class — to make it possible to have good-paying jobs, own a home, have affordable, quality healthcare, and see your children succeed in a safe, clean environment. Creating that future is our community’s priority, and it will be mine as a legislator. “
Of the various initiatives that Gov. Evers launched before and during his budget speech, which two do you think are most important to pass the legislature and why?
McGuire: “During my time working for Rep. Peter Barca in the state legislature, Wisconsin was unfortunately used as a testing ground for harmful, failed policies, like slashing our investment in public schools. Rep. Barca and I worked to push back against those harmful policies, as I believe that re-investing in our public schools is necessary to close the achievement gap and provide opportunity for all. To that end, I support increases in the K-12 budget as proposed by the Governor.
“There are a number of other issues that are very important, including eliminating right to work and restoring the prevailing wage. But one under-the-radar issue included in the governor’s budget was increased transparency in prescription drug prices. Currently, prescription drugs are projected to cost Wisconsinites $1.35 billion in 2019. These efforts to increase transparency in pricing can help to lower costs in the future, helping more seniors and families afford the medicine that they have been prescribed. I worked closely with Rep. Peter Barca to protect SeniorCare, which helps keep prescription prices lower for seniors, and I am committed to making sure prescription prices are affordable in Wisconsin.”
Walkington: “There are so many important parts of Gov. Evers’ budget. I’ve already mentioned the importance of expanding Medicaid and protecting Planned Parenthood.
“In addition to those initiatives, repealing the so-called right-to-work legislation and legalizing medical marijuana are both important priorities. Right-to-work has decimated unions in our state and had none of the wage or employment benefits touted by the GOP. Legalizing medical marijuana would provide safer, less expensive medical relief to so many Wisconsinites, as well as open up our state to an entirely new industry, bringing with it state revenue and jobs.”
If you win this seat, how would you work with a strong Republican majority that controls the legislature?
Walkington: “My entire family are staunch Republicans, so I know something about building productive relationships with conservatives.
“Nonpartisan issues like fair redistricting reform and improving our infrastructure provide areas to work across the aisle with our Republican colleagues. There is always room to find common ground and do good when we focus on our shared values. Former Rep. Peter Barca knew how to do this better than most, and I look forward to building on that legacy in order to best serve the people of the 64th.”
McGuire: “In my work as an assistant district attorney, I often had to work closely with those who are pitted against me: criminal defense attorneys. And I found that the best way to reach successful compromises was to be clear about the outcomes that we each wanted to see from each case. As a result, sometimes the defense attorney could approach me with a creative, alternative solution that satisfied the goals of the District Attorney’s office, but was also satisfactory for the defendant.
“Ultimately, no person, office, or political party holds a monopoly on good ideas. By being clear about my principles and goals — to restore the middle class, provide access to affordable healthcare, and reinvest in our public schools — I can provide other legislators a clear picture of where we can work together, and from there I can better work with members of the Republican Party (and any political party) in finding common ground.”
Why should voters choose you for this seat?
McGuire: “It’s simple: I have a long history of commitment and service to this district, my home district.
“I was born and raised here. While in college, I volunteered on Peter Barca’s campaign because I wanted to help strengthen my home community. After graduating, I worked in his legislative office to serve the people of this district — assisting folks in navigating state agencies and advising on policy. During that time, we worked to push back against Act 10 and harmful attacks on our schools. And in 2014, after five years serving this community in Peter Barca’s office, I went back to law school, because I wanted to be a criminal prosecutor here in Kenosha County.
“After graduating from law school, I worked as a special prosecutor in the Kenosha County District Attorney’s office. I have always maintained my commitment to this community, serving as president of the Kenosha Public Library Foundation, as well as on the local National Alliance for Mental Illness Board. My home has always been here, and I have worked for many years to help this community. I am asking for your vote because I am committed to strengthening our community, and to restoring the middle class. “
Walkington: “I feel what we need now more than ever is a representative that can bring their experiences with them to the legislature to push forward towards much needed change. My experiences as a mom, community volunteer, and healthcare advocate have uniquely prepared me to represent the hardworking families of the 64th District. I know how daunting it is to open unexpected medical bills, what it’s like to weigh the decision to go back to work when childcare expenses take most of your paycheck, and I’ve had to fight insurance companies over coverage for my child’s medical care.
“I know what these experiences are like because I’ve lived them, rather than just read about them in policy papers. My work in advocacy and community organizing has taught me how important it is to connect with and empower others to speak out for the values that connect us all. I ask for your vote on April 2 so I can take that same community-based approach to the legislature.”