District 32 Assembly Race

(Published October. 26, 2006, 12:38 p.m.)

By Mike Heine/The Week

The race for Wisconsin's 32nd Assembly District pits two-term incumbent Thomas A. Lothian (R-Williams Bay) against Ryan J. Schroeder (D-Delavan) for the third time.

Here's a look at their views on town incorporation, tax revenue limits, campaign finance and this year's two statewide referenda questions on gay marriage and the death penalty.

Thomas A. Lothian

Age: 77

Address: 539 Park Ridge Road, Williams Bay

Job: retired University of Illinois at Chicago chemistry professor and administrator

Education: Master's degree from Illinois Institute of Technology; bachelor's degree chemistry Ohio State University College of Education; graduate of Cleveland Heights High School, Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

Community service: Williams Bay Lions Club; monitor and deacon of United Church of Christ in Williams Bay; director and treasurer of Lake Geneva Sailing School; Wisconsin Counties Association member.

Elected posts: Williams Bay Village Trustee, 1971-79; Walworth County Board Supervisor, 1992-2004; Wisconsin State Assembly (District 32), 2002-present.

Ryan J. Schroeder

Age: 32

Address: 510 S. Seventh St., Delavan

Job: Assembler at Stock Lumber in Delavan

Education: Senior at UW-Whitewater majoring in administration and public policy; graduate of Delavan-Darien High School (1992).

Community service: Past president of Delavan Lions Club; Past president of Delavan Kiwanis Club; member Delavan Historical Society.

Elected posts: City of Delavan Alderman, 1999-present.

-- Three towns in Walworth County-Delavan, Geneva and Bloomfield-are considering taking steps toward incorporating. Would you favor these local towns' desire to possibly incorporate? Why or why not?

Lothian: "I signed onto the Charter Towns Bill and have voted in favor of that for every opportunity I had. I'm on the record of supporting that towns bill.

"The way the Constitution is established, (town governments) are the closest to the people and have the least authority over their fate. They can't stop annexation and can't do many things because they don't have the powers that a village has."

Schroeder: "I know it's an issue hanging out there. I wouldn't be opposed to it. I would just need to know what it is they are looking at.

"As I've gotten out into communities to meet people, I've noticed each one has its own uniqueness. I can definitely appreciate that. I know they don't want to lose more land to the cities.

"I'm not against them becoming villages, but I would want to know what their plan is and what legislation allows them to currently do."

-- Walworth County proposed a 2007 budget that calls for a 9.55-percent levy increase. Should Wisconsin set further limits on a county's ability to collect tax revenue? Why or why not?

Lothian: He says he's voted for past Taxpayer Bill of Rights and Taxpayer Protection Amendment proposals that have called for limits on county spending.

"There needs to be constraints on spending. Limiting the growth of expenditures is something we just simply have to do. We can't continue to live beyond our means."

Schroeder: Opposes spending limits imposed by the state on counties and smaller governments-cities, villages and towns.

"I don't think the state should put on any limits. I think that's why we elect local elected officials. If voters aren't happy with the way (officials) are deciding, then we they should vote them out."

-- Campaign finance issues have overshadowed many of the other issues discussed in the gubernatorial debates. How should campaign finance reform be addressed in the next legislative session?

Lothian: Lothian doesn't feel campaign finance reform should stretch into the local government as much as it does in the state government.

"How many board members would you get to run if they had to disclose their financial status?" Lothian said. "You can't fill a ballot with competition for the offices they have now and that will just discourage people from running."

Lothian thought the state campaign finance laws were stringent enough, noting candidates have to file reports four times in an election year with the State Elections Board.

"I think there are enough people watching us," he said. "The press and all of this is a matter of public record. I don't know how much abuse there is."

Schroeder: "We definitely do need to get the special interests out of what's going on up in Madison."

Schroeder proposed having limits to how much candidates could raise and seeking new public grant monies to encourage people to run for office.

"Special interests have gotten their teeth behind Democrat and Republican candidates. "If we can come up with more grant-type money, it certainly would allow the average person who has great ideas and who wants to compete with incumbents or other who are wealthy.

-- What are your thoughts on the gay marriage and the death penalty referenda questions slated for this year's ballots?

Lothian: He will leave it to the citizens to decide on the definition of marriage.

"It's out of my hands now," said Lothian, who voted to have the question go to a referendum.

As for the death penalty, "I think it's wrong for us to kill or execute people."

Schroeder: He believes marriage is between a man and a woman, but doesn't see the need for a referendum question.

"I believe we have laws on the books that already define that."

He says further definition will negatively affect gay and straight couples that are in civil unions.

Regarding the death penalty, "Personally, I'm opposed to the death penalty, but I wouldn't work to repel what the voters did statewide."

 

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