Election Preview: Wisconsin 28th State Senate District
Incumbent Republican state Sen. Mary Lazich is being challenged in the 28th District by Democrat Jim Ward.
Lazich has served the Senate since 1998, and prior to joining the Legislature, she erved as a Waukesha County Board supervisor and a New Berlin alderwoman.
Ward, of Greendale, graduated from Marquette University with a degree in History and Education. He has been a teacher for 13 years, the past 12 years he has taught at Milwaukee Academy of Science, a charter school.
The candidates stand on opposites sides of the line when it comes to a number issues such as the Voter ID law, Act 10, and job growth.
Ward does believe public employees should pay more towards their benefits, however, he does not believe collective bargaining should have been eliminated.
“If you look at Wisconsin, we have a long progressive history of labor rights. We had workers fighting for the eight-hour work week,” Ward said at a candidates forum sponsored by Patch and the League of Women Voters on Thursday. "We were the first state in the country to put workers compensation.”
Lazich voted in favor of Act 10, which takes away collective bargaining rights from most public employees, in response to the fiscal issues the state was facing. She said the law gave decision-making control back to the local level. She said that over the years she has heard from local municipal and school officials who have been frustrated over the limitations in bargaining with public employees.
“They would say their hands are tied,” said Lazich. “They can’t do anything. Do something about it. We’re stuck in this health care we have to pay. Give us options…We put the decision-making back at the school district level, back more at your level.”
Ward said that the tools Republicans claim to have given local governments were just another form of cuts.
Lazich believes less stringent regulations and lower taxes on businesses will create job growth, while Ward believes that a stronger focus on education will do that.
Lazich said Wisconsin needs to be hospitable and friendly to current businsses as well as those considering relocating here.
“Government can’t really go out and create a lot of jobs,” Lazich said. “We need to listen to those who do that... What I hear is regulations and taxes. That Wisconsin is not friendly to business. That we overregulate.”
Ward rebutted by saying that in order to create jobs companies need to stop sending jobs overseas, support local business, focus on education job training and invest in research and development.
For the people who have lost their jobs, Ward says they should be able to go back to school, whether it’s to get a two-year or a four-year degree, in order to get those “21st century skills” to be employable again.
He also said that tech schools and businesses should work together to give people employable skills.
Voter ID Law
The two candidates are in complete opposite sides when it comes to the Wisconsin's Voter ID Law.
Lazich voted in favor of the law. She said that more than 70 percent of Wisconsin residents are in favor of the law and as a representative she needs to be responsive to that.
Ward says mass voter fraud is a myth and that there is a rate less than 1 percent of voter fraud. He also expressed concern over voter suppression.
His opponent responded by saying that the reason the rate is so low is because voter fraud is untraceable.
Glimpse at the 28th District
The 28th District has new boundaries this year in the wake of redistricting prompted by population shifts in the 2010 census. The district includes southwest Milwaukee County, southeast Waukesha County and a small portion of Walworth and Racine counties.
Wisconsin state senators serve four-year terms and earn $49,943 annually. They also receive a per diem of $88 per day for each day they work in Madison.