Wisconsin News

Candidates ready for 32nd state Senate debate

Debate takes place Tuesday night

Candidates ready for 32nd state Senate debate

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Election day is nearly a week away.

One of the biggest local races is that for Wisconsin's 32nd state senate seat, occupied by Democrat Jennifer Shilling.

Three candidates are vying for the seat: Independent candidate Chip DeNure, Republican Dan Kapanke, and incumbent and Democratic candidate Shilling.

They are hoping to use Tuesday's debate to share their plans with the voters.

Incumbent state Sen. Shilling defeated Republican Dan Kapanke in one of nine recall elections in 2011.

Much of the race had to do with Act 10, a bill restricting the union rights of public workers. Kapanke voted for the measure at the time and says it's making a positive difference in the state.

"Since Act 10, the taxpayers here in Wisconsin have saved over $5 billion -- that's real money. Those things matter -- the things I'm talking about -- matter to the residents of the 32nd. So we need to talk about them," Kapanke said.

But Shilling says schools have been hit particularly hard by the law's effects.

"We are seeing more schools having to go to referendums, because we are not meeting our state's commitment to education," Shilling said. "We are seeing teacher shortages in school districts."

Both Shilling and Kapanke also hope to work on infrastructure, like roads and bridges, in the next legislative session.

They hope that process will bring both sides to the table.

"Talking with leaders in the Assembly, certainly a long-term fix for transportation funding is important and is on the front burner this year," Shilling said.

"We need to come together on both sides and come up with a plan long term for Wisconsin as far as the roads and bridges are concerned," Kapanke said.

Independent candidate Chip DeNure of La Crosse says his main goal of running is to oppose a potential north-south corridor through La Crosse.

"It makes no sense to spend $140 million of the taxpayer's money for a highway that most of the people in La Crosse don't want," DeNure said.

The candidates are hoping Tuesday's debate will give them an opportunity to speak to the voters.

"It really centers on the role of government in the people's lives," Kapanke said.

"Voters should ask themselves as they listen to the three candidates about where they want to go," Shilling said.

Other issues the candidates hope to discuss in the debate are health care as well as creating jobs.

The debate will take place Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Great Room at the Cleary Center on the UW-La Crosse campus.

The public is invited to attend.

If you cannot, News 8 will broadcast the debate next Sunday, Nov. 6 at 10 a.m.

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