Vos, Albrecht offer clear choice for voters in 63rd District
By Jennifer Eisenbart
There has been no shortage of vitriol when it comes to political races in Wisconsin – not in the last two years.
So, with incumbent Robin Vos running on the Republican ticket and Kelley Albrecht challenging him on the Democratic ticket in the 63rd Assembly District race, it’s not surprising that the two seem to have very different points of view.
Albrecht, a first-time candidate and mother of three with ties to the local Progressive Party, decided during the battle over Act 10 in 2011 that something needed to change.
“I was so complacent,” she said of being involved politically and accepting who she had representing her.
Now, things have changed – and with it, she thinks, a change should come in the form of the 63rd district representative.
“(Robin Vos) just doesn’t feel he is accountable to the people,” Albrecht explained. “Even if we have an opposing view, we should still be heard.
“I am deeply concerned about the direction our state is going,” she added. “This ‘divide and conquer’ strategy and not working.”
Vos proud of record
In contrast, Vos said that he is “incredibly proud” to represent the people of Racine County, and feels he is listening to the people.
“I realize Wisconsin is at a crucial time in our history,” he said. “(People) worry about the future of our children. We’re at a time where we need to make important decisions.”
Vos, who is perhaps the most prominent Republican in the state Assembly, said this week that he has stood by what he promised to do – balance the state budget without raising taxes, create private sector jobs, educate children for the jobs of the future, and stand up for new voter ID laws.
The question Albrecht asks in return: at what cost? She said Act 10 helped in pitting sides against one another, and that the voter ID law might stop voter fraud – but also keep seniors or those without a permanent address from voting.
“I think it went too far,” Albrecht said of the voter ID law. But she also felt that the balanced state budget came at the expense of the quality of education. While Vos argues that Act 10 gave districts the ability to balance budgets by cutting benefit costs, Albrecht said the state still took too much state funding away.
Vos came back by saying that districts like Burlington Area School District saved $1 million by allowing competitive bidding for health insurance.
“Act 10 gave more flexibility to local school districts,” he said. “That’s why we could make the cuts and have almost no impact on educational quality.”
Albrecht said there are districts now trying to survive with one gym teacher, one social worker – districts that have had to make cuts.
While Vos can point to BASD as an example of how Act 10 works for districts, there have also been numerous cuts forced because of a decrease in state aid and also declining local enrollment.
Split over job creation
The two also disagree on what has constituted job creation so far.
“There are not family-sustaining jobs,” Albrecht said. “People are forced to work 2-3 jobs just to put food on the table.
As a result, she said, people are having to choose between, say, feeding families or choosing health insurance.
Vos argued that private-sector jobs are being created.
“I think we see Wisconsin is heading in the right direction, even if the national economy is slowing now.”
But both have at least one bit of common ground: the idea that the other side is too busy championing his or her own work to try and find the middle.
Albrecht said, for her part, she tried speaking with both Vos and Rep. Samantha Kerkman.
“They chose to ignore me,” Albrecht explained, adding that many of the constituents felt the same way when she spoke with them.
“They have the right to be heard,” she said.
Vos said Albrecht has spent more time criticizing others than focusing on what the state has done, calling her part of the “angry left.”
“I think that’s not what the people of Racine County want,” he said. “I think we should engage in conversations. But in order for two sides to sit down, you have to do it without yelling and shouting.”
The 63rd Assembly district includes all of Western Racine County with the exception of the Bohners Lake are, which is now in the 32nd Assembly District.