Election profiles

Voters will head to the polls on November 3 or will be mailing their absentee ballot in the near future. Sentinel Publications has collaborated to put together a comprehensive voting guide for the general election of state and local races.

Each candidate was sent a questionnaire with a series of questions to answer before the election. Responses have been edited for space.

U.S. House of Representatives: Wisconsin District 7

Tom Tiffany, R-Minocqua (incumbent)

What is the role of the federal government during a global pandemic?

I believe the first and most important role of the federal government is to protect the safety and security of its citizens - this includes not only health, but also protection of our economic opportunity and livelihoods. This is no different during a global pandemic. The federal government should be focused on protecting the most vulnerable among us while also helping mitigate the damage of the pandemic on our families, workers, and small businesses.

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Do you support another round of stimulus checks for Americans? Why or Why not?

I believe the most important thing we can do right now is provide assistance to struggling small businesses by unlocking nearly $140 billion in unspent Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds, along with enacting common-sense liability protections for small businesses, schools, and health care providers.

How will you represent Northern Wisconsin in Washington D.C.?

I will represent Northern Wisconsin in Washington D.C. the same way I did in our State Capitol - by being a relentless advocate for my constituents. Using the work ethic my parents taught me, I fought for more funding for Northern Wisconsin roads, helped expand rural broadband, and authored legislation to expand access to healthcare in our rural areas. I worked with my colleagues to cut taxes and get more Wisconsinites back to work than ever before.

Tricia Zunker, D-Wausau

What is the role of the federal government during a global pandemic?

The federal government must take greater action to protect people during this pandemic. We need more PPE for front line workers, increased testing that is free and accessible, hazard pay for essential workers, extended unemployment benefits for workers who have lost income due to the pandemic, and support for small businesses and family farmers so they can stay afloat during this pandemic.

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Do you support another round of stimulus checks for Americans? Why or Why not?

I support another round of stimulus checks for people whose livelihood has been impacted as a result of the pandemic and they need extra support to make it through. We must look out for one another during this pandemic. No one should go bankrupt or lose their home as a result of this avoidable pandemic.

How will you represent Northern Wisconsin in Washington D.C.?

I’ve been a hard worker my whole life and will work hard for the people of Wisconsin in Congress, whether you vote for me or not. My votes will actually represent the desires and needs of the people here. I will fight for pandemic relief efforts, accessible and affordable health care, protection for preexisting conditions, protection for your hard-earned social security, fully-funded USPS, help for our family farmers, environmental protections and rural broadband expansion.

State Senate: District 10

Patty Schachtner, D-Somerset (incumbent)

Give a little background information about yourself, including age, hometown, education, job history and how long you’ve been in office.

Age: 61

Hometown: Somerset, WI

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Occupation: State Senator since 2018, and Chief Medical Examiner of St Croix County

Education: Graduate Somerset High School, 1978; Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College (EMT Basic, EMT Intermediate, EMS Adult Educator)

Other civic engagement: Former Health Care Provider, Somerset High School; Medicolegal Death Investigator, St. Croix County; EMT, New Richmond Ambulance and Rescue; Town of Star Prairie Town Supervisor (2010—14); Board member of Turningpoint Wisconsin; Board Member of Somerset Community Food Pantry; Former Somerset School District School Board Member (2015—18); Member of Rotary Club of New Richmond; Member of Wisconsin Coroners and Medical Examiners Association; Member of St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice; Former President Championship Pulling Series; Former Director Greater Stillwater Chamber of Commerce; Co-founder Suicide Prevention Task Force of St. Croix County.

What should be the state’s role in the recovery from a pandemic?

The state legislature needs to get to work to address this pandemic and support local governments in their work. I’ve heard time and again from school board members, town supervisors, and city council members, that they are swamped under the burden of this pandemic. They need Legislators to show up for work and take a vote to provide the funding, flexibility, and other resources they need to keep our communities afloat. We have to do more to support small businesses, stock food shelves, distribute PPE, and keep schools safe. I’ve been ready to come into work and vote on these bills since April, and now it’s up to the Legislative leadership to hold a session.  

What are your visions and plans for your District better than your opponent?

My top priorities include ensuring access to healthcare, supporting great public schools and tech programs, and keeping our water clean for generations to come. As a former EMT and healthcare provider, I know firsthand how important it is to have access to affordable, high quality care for every stage of life. I will continue fighting for the Medicaid expansion and coverage for pre-existing conditions. 

Outside of the pandemic, what are the challenges Wisconsin is facing in the next 5-10 years you would like to tackle?

Access to healthcare, a strong educational infrastructure, reliable broadband, and clean water. These are issues that matter to communities here in western Wisconsin, and they are the issues that I’ve been working on for years. We have unique challenges here as a border community, and a diverse region of suburbs, college campuses, and rural, agricultural land. 

Rob Stafsholt, R-New Richmond

Give a little background information about yourself, including age, hometown, education, job history and how long you’ve been in office.

I am a proud lifelong resident of St. Croix County. I’ve helped run my family’s farm for over 25 years as a fourth-generation farmer. I have a teenage daughter, Maggie, who works on the family farm and in the family business.

I graduated from New Richmond High School and attended both UW-Eau Claire and UW-River Falls majoring in Business Administration and also Farm Management.

I currently reside in New Richmond where I farm and am owner/operator of a small business. Since being elected to the State Assembly in November 2016, I have proudly served the people in the 29th Assembly District where I have been a leader on many issues facing Northwest Wisconsin.

What should be the state’s role in the recovery from a pandemic?

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COVID-19 has posed a unique challenge to both our healthcare system and our social safety net. In the COVID relief bill I voted for earlier this year, we guaranteed cost-free testing for everyone and ensured that a COVID-19 diagnosis wouldn’t stop individuals from getting health insurance.

What are your visions and plans for your district better than your opponent?

I love our area. My family has called Western Wisconsin home for four generations. Now I want to continue to give back by serving the people of the 10th district. As a father, farmer and small businessman, I understand the challenges hard-working families are facing. That is why I’m running for State Senate. I am committed to delivering a bright future for all our families. I believe that together we can protect our communities, safely rebuild and move our economy forward, and secure our future.

Outside of the pandemic, what are the challenges Wisconsin is facing in the next 5-10 years you would like to tackle?

Healthcare, we need to ensure access to high quality, affordable healthcare right here in northwestern Wisconsin. Expanding mental health services, I worked with my colleagues to include over $15 million in the state budget for a crisis center in our area. This would keep those needing mental health services closer to home and their families. While Governor Evers unfortunately redirected these funds to Madison, I will continue to work with my colleagues and the Governor to ensure our communities get the support they need. We also need to make sure we cover people with pre-existing conditions. I’ve voted to cover those individuals and will continue to do so.

State Assembly District 28

Gae Magnafici, R-Dresser (incumbent)

Discuss and expand on why your visions and plans for State Assembly 28 are better than your opponent:

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I was born and raised in Polk County. I know what the people of this area want and expect out of their state government. If you sit down and talk to real people in the communities of the 28th District, most of them will simply tell you that they just want the government to stay out of their lives and leave them alone. I get that. They don’t mean it in a derogatory way – they just want to go to work, feed their families, and not be told by government how to live their lives. In the Assembly, I carry that flag for my constituents by making sure that taxes are low, our spending is not out of control, and our rights are protected. 

Outside of COVID-19, what challenges are Wisconsin residents facing in the next 5-10 years that you would like to tackle?

Wisconsin is still a high tax state. Over the past decade, under Republican leadership, we have started to turn the tide. Wisconsin has gone from one of the worst states to start a business in the country to one of the best. Pre-COVID, our unemployment was the lowest it had ever been and the economy was booming. That didn’t just magically happen. That was a result of hard work by our Legislature and Governor to transform Wisconsin into a business friendly climate. But, there is more work to be done. I think we can work to lower the tax burden on families and businesses. The lower taxes are, the more businesses want to move here and the better off we are.

What should be the state’s role in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic?

I am a strong believer in personal responsibility. We can all do our part in washing our hands, social distancing, and wearing a mask when appropriate. It is up to all of us to work together to slow the spread of COVID-19. This does not, however mean that we should be shutting our state down and picking winners and losers. State government should not be deciding which businesses can open their doors and attempt to survive while Mom & Pop shops are on the verge of shutting their doors forever.

Kim Butler, D-Milltown 

Discuss and expand on why your visions and plans for State Assembly 28 are better than your opponent:

My goal is to represent everyone in this district, and to be a strong, effective voice for rural Wisconsin when I am down in Madison. My opponent voted along party lines, with her boss, Speaker Robin Vos 100% of the time this past session. I plan to be a much more independent voice, who votes for our district. I’ll listen to our community - health department officials, small business owners, parents and teachers, etc., because we need to work together to move forward.  For me, protecting people with pre-existing conditions and making healthcare affordable is personal. I’m a 14 year cancer survivor, a mom, and own a small business with my husband, so I buy our own insurance. I am just as tired of high deductibles, out of control prescription drug prices, and rising premiums as you are. 

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Outside of COVID-19, what challenges are Wisconsin residents facing in the next 5-10 years that you would like to tackle?

We need a dedicated source for Transportation and Road funding, so counties and municipalities can plan for road maintenance and repair. Our schools need funding for Special Education increased to the 60% that the Governor requested. I will ensure that our rural schools get their fair share of education funding. Our kids deserve more mental health counselors in our schools, and more career counseling so we can do a better job directing students to tech and trade schools and other high paying career options that don’t require a 4 year degree. 

What should be the state’s role in the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic?

Our first priority is to get the COVID virus contained, and stop the spread. Economists and Fortune 500 companies agree that there is no return to normal until we get a handle on the virus in every part of the state.  We must also try to keep our schools open safely in order to rebuild the economy.  Priorities include fixing our outdated unemployment system and making sure everyone receives the benefits they are entitled to.  The state can help small businesses, including bars and restaurants, survive reduced business and the economic downturn that has changed the way we do business in unexpected ways.  We can help our schools to safely meet the needs of all students.

State Assembly District 73

Nick Milroy, D-South Range

What is the role of the State government during a global pandemic?

I believe that one of the primary responsibilities of government is to keep people safe and healthy. During a global pandemic this becomes even more urgent. We need to listen to public health experts and trust science to get us through the COVID crisis. A quick and decisive response would have limited the amount of deaths and got our economy back on track. Unfortunately, the Republican Party has fought Governor Evers and Health Secretary Palms efforts to protect people. This has resulted in the pandemic spreading to every corner of the state and devastating lives and small businesses. As the only scientist in the legislature, I believe we need more representatives that think like scientists and less like politicians.

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What can the State Assembly do to support small business during these difficult economic times?

The legislature must act to help small businesses through these difficult times. I was proud to support efforts to get small businesses the supplies that they need to protect workers and keep the public safe. I also supported Governor Evers grant program that has provided relief to 30,000 small businesses in Wisconsin. However, we need to do more to help small businesses who are struggling through no fault of their own. It is unfortunate that the Republican controlled legislature has refused to meet in over 120 days to address the needs of small businesses and others in response to COVID. We need to come together, put politics aside, and deliver results for the people of Wisconsin.

 What are your thoughts on the push to bring Gov. Tony Evers to a recall election?

I haven't seen or heard of any coordinated effort to recall Governor Evers. The vast majority of people that I speak with want a leader that is going to protect people in these difficult times and support our small businesses. That is what Governor Evers has done and I'm certain that any effort to recall him will fall on its face.

Keith Kern, R-Superior

What is the role of the State government during a global pandemic?

When the Governor unilaterally decided to shut the state down, he needed to have a plan in place to address skyrocketing unemployment claims. He didn't, our current representative didn't push the issue, and now I've made hundreds if not thousands of phone calls to try and help friends get the claims they're expecting. We need the State government to make informed, educated decisions and leave local control to locals - that means individuals and businesses as much as it means local governments. The 73rd District should demand better from their current leadership. 

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What can the State Assembly do to support small business during these difficult economic times?

I decided to run for office because I watched my livelihood and life's savings evaporate in three months. Madison made a sweeping decision without consulting small business owners or having a plan in place to address unemployment. When my bar was shut down, my employees didn't have income and the unemployment system wasn't there for them because the Governor and current leadership in the 73rd didn't think far enough ahead to have a plan in place. It's clear that we need more people rooted in the real world and what's really happening in northern Wisconsin down in Madison. On the Superior City Council I wrote a plan that helps small businesses develop and grow in Superior, and then led the charge to divert that money to help small businesses with emergency relief related to the pandemic. That's the kind of leadership you can expect from me.

What are your thoughts on the push to bring Gov. Tony Evers to a recall election?

The lack of leadership and planning is frustrating. While I completely understand the frustration of every involved in the recall effort, I continue to believe that except in the most extreme circumstances we should continue to choose or remove elected officials during regularly scheduled elections. That is why I am running for Assembly, to send a message to Madison that northern Wisconsin matters and we deserve a representative that will stand up and fight for us and deliver results. You won't find a harder worker or a stronger advocate for northern Wisconsin than me. We have an opportunity to make a positive change for the future of our communities on November 3rd.