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Four vie for seat in the 2nd

By Press Times Staff

It’s a crowded field for the 2nd Assembly District race.

Four candidates have thrown their hats in the ring to replace the seat Andre Jacque has vacated during his run for the 1st Senate District.

Shae Sortwell defeated Dean Raasch in the Republican primary. Mark Grams was unopposed in the Democratic primary. Kevin Bauer was unopposed in the Libertarian primary. Jeff Dahlke is running as an Independent.

The 2nd Assembly District contains part of De Pere, all of Greenleaf and stretches to Two Rivers.

Name: Shae Sortwell
Party: Republican
Hometown: My father was in the Navy so we moved around a lot when I was a child, but we’ve been in the Gibson area for more than 18 years.
Immediate family: Wife, Krista. Kids: Tyler, Erin, Max, Felicity
Occupation: Manufacturing operator and Gibson Town Board Supervisor

Shae Sortwell

Why should people vote for you?

I would say because I am a proven defender of the liberty of the people both as an Army veteran as well as my service in local government.

Simply put, I want a state where farmers and business owners and everyone else can live their lives as they choose with as little government involvement as absolutely possible.

I have a proven record of reining in taxes and spending in local government.

I am the pro-life candidate (endorsed by Pro-Life WI).

I am the candidate that supports our 2nd Amendment rights (endorsed by the NRA).

I support our dairy industry (endorsed by the Dairy Business Association).

I support our farmers (endorsed by the WI Farm Bureau).

I support our local small businesses (endorsed by the National Federation of Independent Businesses).

What is the single biggest issue facing Wisconsin?

A single issue is hard to pinpoint. I’ve heard from thousands of constituents and I would say there are two that they would like the state to continue to work on that aren’t addressed elsewhere in this questionnaire.

The first is health care.

I think people support the free market but the issue is that we really don’t have a free market in this area.

We need real transparency on prices and the same price for every customer so that people can actually shop around and get the best deal for their money.

Without these reforms, buying insurance and going to the doctor is like playing Russian roulette. We go and just hope it won’t cost us too much once our treatment is complete.

The second is education.

Every child is different and deserves the opportunity to go to a school that works for him or her.

What works for one child may not work for the next.

Parents should have the support in choosing the school that works for each of their children, whether that is in a public school using open enrollment, a private school using tax credits and vouchers or whether that is homeschooling.

Then on the higher education front, we need to work more closely with employers to get our young people getting the skills in school that employers are actually looking for, and we ought to be targeting programs with state funding that are areas of high demand in the Wisconsin job market so that our open positions are filled more quickly and efficiently and our economy can continue to grow.

What are your views on what’s known as the dark store loophole? If it’s not a problem, why? If it is, what will you do to close it?

First, I think we need to stop portraying it as something it is not. It is not a loophole.

It is state law that property taxes are supposed to be based on the actual value of the property and not how successful a business is (that’s why they pay corporate taxes).

However, for years, many local governments have been in violation of state law.

That is why, now that businesses have begun pushing back against this illegal taxation, the courts have been largely siding with business owners.

Now, if politicians want to raise taxes on our business and increase the price of our goods and service, they can certainly do so, but that is what it is.

Closing this loophole is a tax increase, plain and simple. I do not support increasing taxes as a general principle.

What should Wisconsin do to ensure funding on the state level is available to repair roads?

The first thing we need to do is to stop wasting the taxpayer’s money.

There was a story in the paper a few weeks ago that the state DOT double-paid a bill for almost half a million dollars.

What’s worse is they even knew it was a double payment before they made it.

Such incompetence on the part of state bureaucrats should be grounds for immediate dismissal. They can’t just throw away our money like that and expect to keep their jobs.

Secondly, we need to reprioritize where we are spending our transportation dollars.

We’ve spent a significant amount in Southeast Wisconsin and it is time that we redeploy those dollars to the rest of the state.

Finally, I would like to see the state pull back on the minimum mark-up on gasoline so that gas stations can sell fuel at lower costs that they are legally prevented from doing right now.

This will encourage more travel throughout our state and bring in more gas tax revenue.

How would you like to see K-12 education funded in Wisconsin?

I assume this question is referring to the K-12 funding formula.

From what I know about it, it does still need some work, especially for certain rural schools that kind of get the short end of the stick on how the funding formula works.

Now, the Republicans in Madison did pass a special rural school funding bill this past session to try and help rural schools, but it really needs to be all part of the same package so we are all on the same page as to how much funding schools are getting.

Keep in mind, funding is not the only issue facing our schools.

We need to also remove unnecessary state mandates from our educators so they can do what is best for our children and find the best paths to success.

Name: Mark Grams
Party: Democratic
Hometown: Two Rivers
Immediate family: Wife Betty, two adult children, four grandchildren
Occupation: Two Rivers Community Service Officer

Mark Grams

Why should people vote for you?

I served 20 years in the Marine Corps and retired as a gunnery sergeant and I worked 19 years as a county veterans service officer.

These real world experiences provide me with the ability to advocate for people and network with other legislators to apply common sense practical solutions to problems.

It needs to be proven the voters, if given the opportunity, will elect a citizen legislator who is willing to run a low-budget campaign (less than $2,000) and can win an election.

We the people, must have fair elections for a healthy, vibrant republic which is why a nonpartisan system for the redrawing of legislative districts (Iowa model), must be shepherded through the legislative process by someone willing to reach across the aisle.

I will advocate for our children and the educators in our public education system.

I plan to champion the protection of our natural resources.

I ask the voters to look at my work and volunteer experiences and trust I will have their best interests in mind.

I’m the candidate that is offering we the people as the priority and not special interest groups or parties.

I’m the candidate that doesn’t pretend to have all the answers, but is open to a civil dialogue to find the solutions.

I will try to visualize what it’s like to walk in the other person’s shoes before acting on legislation. I have common sense, innovative solutions to fix our infrastructure and cut government waste.

I’m running a positive, no-nonsense campaign that is laser focused on the issues.

I hear that people are exhausted with being inundated with negative advertising from candidates, parties and special interest groups.

We can no longer allow common desires like protecting our natural resources, having safe and thriving public schools and the maintenance of our infrastructure being thwarted by partisan battles.

I’ll continue to run a civil grassroots campaign.

I will legislate with common-sense solutions after consideration of how it will impact all citizens I represent.

Imagine if We the People were truly the priority in Madison as opposed to big money special interests, extreme partisanship and concern of campaign fund balances.

People should vote for me because I’m providing a real choice to reject the politics as usual that we all complain about, but don’t know any recourse.

What is the single biggest issue facing Wisconsin?

The single biggest issue is the divide-and-conquer strategy that has worked politically, but is destroying the cohesiveness of our state.

We need to restore a civil dialogue that doesn’t consider compromise a dirty word.

There are so many Wisconsinites that find themselves the ball in a ping pong game between the parties.

I have to believe there are moderate, common sense innovative thinkers in both parties that could overcome the extreme partisanship that rears it’s ugly head on every issue.

What are your views on what’s known as the dark store loophole? If it’s not a problem, why? If it is, what will you do to close it?

It is a problem because more commercial properties are using the dark store strategy to push their fair share of property taxes onto homeowners and small businesses.

The fix seems easy, close the loopholes.

The Wisconsin Legislature had an opportunity to fix it in 2018, but failed to do so.

As is the case with any legislation that seems to be a common-sense fix, one would have to wonder why it failed.

When elected I will work with other like-minded legislators that believe the closing of these loopholes are in the best interests of the tax paying public.

What should Wisconsin do to ensure funding on the state level is available to repair roads?

First and foremost we need to institute a rock solid way to keep the money in the transportation fund truly segregated and protected from being raided for other reasons.

I do believe we should return to indexing the gas tax.

It had bipartisan support in 1985 and kept the constant battle of whether to raise the tax or not and if so how much out of the political arena.

Because of its repeal in 2005, Wisconsin has lost out on $1.2 billion in revenue that would have gone a long way to solve our transportation funding shortfalls.

I would also encourage looking at other states and initiate change to requiring only one vehicle license plate that’s displayed on the rear of the vehicle. Reducing to one plate would save approximately $1.2 million.

How would you like to see K-12 education funded in Wisconsin?

I’ve studied this very complicated subject.

I’ve thought long and hard in search of a grand solution that could be clearly articulated in 400 words or less.

I was unsuccessful in that endeavor.

What I do know is our public schools need to be funded in a manner that will provide a facility that is safe and productive for learning.

Schools that children will want to attend and that teachers want to teach in.

Schools that parents and the community are proud to call their own.

Exactly how our K-12 education is funded needs to be a bipartisan solution. One that is in the best interests of all children regardless if they live in the city, suburbs or the rural areas in the state.

It’s great if parents can choose what schools they send their children to. It just cannot financially ruin our public schools in the process.

We need to fund our public schools so the teachers feel appreciated and valued.

We can do that in many ways but pay and benefits commensurate with their education, training and dedication is imperative.

What kind of example are we setting as a society if teachers can’t afford to be or stay in the profession.

Not to mention having to spend their own money to adequately supply their classrooms.

How will we encourage bright and enthusiastic young adults to enter the profession?

The answer really comes down to how much do we as Wisconsinites want to invest in our future.

We cannot continue to think of our neighbors as the enemy. We can accomplish so much more together than continuing to fight over ideology.

Just stop and think the lesson we’re teaching our children with the winner take all mentality.

The current toxic political climate needs to end before it destroys us.

Envision a ping pong game with each party a paddle and our children as the ball. We all know what happens to the ball which eventually ends up broken or crushed.

I believe In the people of Wisconsin to do what’s best for all our children. I want to be your voice in the legislature to make it happen with a civil dialogue.

Name: Kevin A. Bauer
Party: Libertarian
Hometown: De Pere
Immediate family: wife Loretta, daughter Hannah, 15, son Izaiah, 12
Occupation: Self-employed

Why should people vote for you?

My focus when elected will be constituents that elected me to represent them, the constitutions of the United States and the state of Wisconsin and my own conscience.

I’ve served my country, I’ve served my community, I’m now asking the voters for the opportunity to serve them, and not a political party agenda, as a representative in Madison.

What is the single biggest issue facing Wisconsin?

The hijacking of our political system by two major parties, leading to gerrymandering, rigged debates, voter fraud, disenfranchised voters, and a true lack of choice in which candidates we want elected.

What are your views on what’s known as the dark store loophole? If it’s not a problem, why? If it is, what will you do to close it?

The value of a property is the same regardless who owns it or whether or not it is occupied.

What should Wisconsin do to ensure funding on the state level is available to repair roads?

Focus more on maintenance and less on reconstruction, assure that transportation funds stay segregated and are not diverted to other uses. Prevent fraud, waste and abuse.

How would you like to see K-12 education funded in Wisconsin?

Locally by giving school districts greater flexibility by eliminating levy limits, or privately funded.

Name: Jeff Dahlke
Party: Independent
Hometown: Denmark, currently reside in Two Rivers
Immediate family: Married to Katherine Connery Dahlke (4 years), son Cody Dahlke, 26, and daughter Jenna Dahlke, 24
Occupation: Global Paving and Service Specialist, Michels Corporation

Jeff Dahlke

Why should people vote for you?

I believe people should vote for me for a number of reasons as follows.

I’m not beholden to any party or to party politics. I answer to all of the people of this district.

I am relatable to the people of the district because I grew up here, worked my family farm here, raised me kids here, have deep roots here and built many of the roads in the communities here.

I’m the guy you see out at a restaurant or bar that people can walk up to and have a conversation with and I listen.

Because I represent views that are centrist, I can bridge the gap on both sides of the aisle on a number of issues and help drive consensus.

I believe in term limits and campaign finance reform. I’m not doing this for any other reason than I believe it’s the right thing to do for our kids and grandkids.

There is no financial upside for me.

There is no political gain or agenda for me other than to try and make a difference.

What is the single biggest issue facing Wisconsin?

It’s two actually, and they are both sides of one coin.

On the one side is the need for jobs that pay a decent living wage – not entry level jobs, not service jobs – but actual career opportunities that will allow our marginally employed citizens to reduce their reliance on social programs.

We need more manufacturing jobs, skilled trade jobs and high-tech jobs to employ our young people, attract more residents and grow the state’s economy.

The flip side of that coin is providing the right education and training to our children or retraining to mid-career changers who have been downsized to enable them to have a fair chance at these opportunities.

What are your views on what’s known as the dark store loophole? If it’s not a problem, why? If it is, what will you do to close it?

From what I understand of the situation, large retailers, your big box stores, are arguing how their property is being assessed, saying these assessments should include the values of similar properties that are sitting vacant, aka dark stores.

Theoretically this would lower their assessed value and their tax burden.

The problem with this is that the burden is then shifted to the local residential property owners.

The stores argue that, closing this loophole will open the door to local governments ability to raise taxes on their properties.

As with any legislation and the fair and equitable assessment of taxes and levies, we need a proper system of checks and balances.

It’s hard enough for local governments to ensure the proper funding of their budgets to maintain basic, essential community services.

Allowing a pass to a taxpayer, be it a retail store, company or individual sets up a dangerous precedent.

Let the assessors do their job and value properties appropriately.

What should Wisconsin do to ensure funding on the state level is available to repair roads?

I have worked the last 33 years in road construction, training and leading crews to award winning results in Wisconsin, across the US and globally.

I honed my negotiation and collaboration skills in my job, often driving results even when I didn’t speak the language.

I have seen first hand the negative impact that roads in disrepair, poorly thought out designs, and wasteful spend can have on a community.

Our manufacturing supply chain, our agricultural industry and our tourism industry cannot thrive on crumbling roadways.

Not to mention the cost of the wear and tear you and I personally experience on our vehicles.

Funding for the transportation is hotly contested every year.

No one wants to pony up but everyone wants a piece of the pie. We need to find alternate revenue streams.

Here is what I propose:

1. The gas tax has not been raised in 10 years and I would support a 5 cent increase – for the average citizen that would equate to about the price of an additional large coffee drink from their local barista a month.

2. Redirect 2/3 of revenues from local, county and state level traffic citations to the budget.

3. Legalize marijuana and put 2/3 of taxes collected from towards the budget.

4. Management of the budget itself needs professional, not political, oversight by industry experts as it is filled with wasteful spending, ie, decorated underpasses, stamped concrete intersections, etc.

How would you like to see K-12 education funded in Wisconsin?

This is a hot topic for the governor’s race – boiling down to property taxes (to increase or not) and the distribution of the funds (equal distribution, distribution based on risk factors and/or distribution based on economic factors).

I have stated before that, with anything budget related, I would first want to seek to understand how the funds are currently being used and are we seeing an appropriate return on our tax dollar investments.

Costs keep going up, there is increased administrative overhead and I question whether or not the monies are making their way into the classroom where they’re are most needed – to fund teacher’s salaries, classroom supplies and curriculum development.

I question this because I am seeing more young people entering the workforce poorly equipped to succeed.
I see recent studies stating across the nation test scores show a decline in high school graduates’ basic math and literacy skills.

We have a limited pool of monies (our hard-earned tax dollars) and more hands out than we can fill.

Education – the basic education that will allow our children to compete and thrive in the workplace – is critical.

We should consider expanding our tax dollar pool by seeking funding from corporations doing business in our state. They have a vested interest here.

With funding secured, and the appropriate diagnosis and reevaluation of how those dollars are spent, we can look at an equitable disbursement based on a variety of factors.

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