A veteran member of the Wisconsin Assembly, who’s served nine terms as a Democrat, is now running for reelection as an independent with the endorsement of his county Republican party. State Representative Bob Ziegelbauer faced his Democratic challenger in a candidate forum Tuesday night in Manitowoc.
With the state facing a $2.7 billion deficit, Ziegelbauer pledged not to approve any tax increases if reelected. “Tax increases kill small business jobs, the jobs that we need to have a recovering economy,” said Ziegelbauer. “We need to take much better care of the business climate in our state. The business climate is the jobs climate.” Democrat Kerry Trask refused to take the no tax hike pledge, while conceding the deficit is a challenge. “I don’t think the deficit is an insurmountable problem, but we really do have to tighten up,” said Trask, a former professor at UW-Manitwoc. “We do have to have an audit of what we’re doing, look at the bureaucracy, see were we can eliminate waste.”
On the topic of how to fund public schools in Wisconsin, Zieglebauer said part of the solution will be to restore health to the private sector. “It’s pretty obvious all over the country and especially in Wisconsin, that’s a problem we need to address,” he said. “I believe modest changes can allow us to move forward, and move forward in a very positive way, providing careers that will draw talented young people in for a long fruitful prosperity for their families as well.” Trask said property taxes, used to fund the state’s K-through-12 schools, are out of line. “The distribution of that is based upon property values, not the needs of districts and the needs of children,” Trask said. “We really seriously have to commit ourselves in Wisconsin to lowering the property tax. I would say in the next twenty years we should reduce the property tax by at least twenty percent, and we should redistribute the load in a way that is fair, that is equitable and is adequate.”
Andrew Wisniewski is on the ballot as a Republican, but the Manitowoc County Republican Party last week endorsed Ziegelbauer. The forum at Manitowoc City Hall was sponsored by the League of Women Voters.