By Joe Bachman
Some in the audience would call it a “spirited” debate — as incumbent 72nd District Rep. Scott Krug, R-Rome, took on Democratic challenger David Gorski on Monday night in the League of Women Voters candidates forum.
While both candidates supported keeping veteran’s care in control of the county, that would be the only issue agreed upon in the forum. The question soon moved to the issue of a non-partisan approach to redistricting that leads to potential gerrymandering — a question with different responses.
“I wish could, [support legislation] but being in Madison the past six years you find out really quickly that nobody in Madison is non-partisan,” said Krug. “People say we did all this gerrymandering and gave us these extra districts and gave us an extra voice, which simply isn’t true. This district itself went from a 47% democratic district to a 50/50 district — it gives everybody a chance.”
“We live in a modern age — we can use a computer program to do this,” said Gorski. “Scott talks about how fair it is now, but I’ve read articles that say we’re one of the worst gerrymandered states in the country — we can do math, and we can have better maps, and we should do it because it’ll make our democracy better.”
The two candidates were split on the issue groundwater concerns and CAFO’s in the region.
“Scott Walker and Republicans cut 16 scientists from the DNR, and that was a huge mistake — we need those scientists,” said Gorski. “People in Saratoga aren’t against farming, but they’re for property value, and they’re for clean water — we can have agriculture, but we need to be careful.”
“The concept of the future isn’t regulation by hatchet, where we cut out the entire agriculture industry in central Wisconsin — it’s an $88 billion dollar industry statewide,” said Krug. “One size fits all regulation is not going to solve this issue, because there’s not a one size fits all answer.”
One the subject of the jobs, Krug pointed to his successes in his support of the WEDC (Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation) and his efforts to bring Skyward to the area, which has created 1,000 jobs.
“We have to find ways to make people more interested ans attracted to central Wisconsin to do business — whether it’s a tax structure, or work with WEDC — anything they can do to help that is a huge boom,” said Krug. “We’ve got some significant wins here in central Wisconsin.”
Gorski favors a more local approach to building the economy by applying WEDC money locally.
“I would like to see more of that WEDC money coming into communities for local collaboration,” said Gorski. “We know what kind of businesses we want here, so that’s a good starting place.”
Krug came back citing the success of WEDC in local areas, including the Port Edwards mill.
“I hear all the time my opponent talk about how WEDC should be turned into a local program — it’s exactly what WEDC does,” said Krug. “It helps find ways to fund local projects, and if we can guide them a little more by creating more sub-programs within WEDC, that’s even better.”
“All the corporations that we beg to stay in the region have no loyalty to our state — they left with our jobs and our money, and I think we can do a better job,” said Gorski. “More local is better — and if anybody takes money from the state, and leaves the state with jobs, they ought to pay the money back.”
In regards to strengthening Wisconsin infrastructure, Gorski favors an approach that would raise the gas tax, but only by cents to help build and maintain roads. Krug favors a collaborative approach that would prioritize infrastructure within the state budget.
“If we could raise the gas tax by one penny and index it to inflation, maybe that would solve the problem — we shouldn’t be afraid to raise the gas tax by one penny,” said Gorski. “I think we need to look at toll booths on our southern-eastern border.”
“This is one of the biggest challenges we face in the next state budget,” said Krug. “Before we put another cent into transportation, I want to make sure that it’s going into something we need it for, and that it’s not being wasted.”
When asked their top three priorities if elected into office, Gorski stated that strengthening public education, fixing the university system, and restoring the DNR are his main priorities. Krug answered back with strengthening economic development, creating jobs, and putting emphasis on local issues.
“I want to be your full time state representative — I will not work another job,” said Gorski. “I am an open, honest, hard-working person. This is not a career for me, it is a mission.”
“I’ve seen a lot of success in the legislature, and I love doing both of those jobs at the same time,” said Krug, who is also a local realtor. “I am good at what I do, and that’s the bottom line, and when I defend the residents of our district, I get results.”
Election day in America is Tuesday, Nov. 8.