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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Democratic Candidates for Assembly District 10's Open Seat

Four candidates file for Aug. 14 primary

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Residents of Milwaukee's North Side, Riverwest and Shorewood will elect a new representative in the state Assembly in the Aug. 14 Democratic primary, when four candidates will vie to succeed outgoing state Rep. Elizabeth Coggs. Since no Republicans have filed for this race, the winner of the primary will not face a challenger in the November general election and will take office in January.

The four candidates are Harriet Callier, Millie Coby, Ieshuh Griffin and state Rep. Sandy Pasch. Callier and Griffin did not respond to multiple requests for interviews.

Millie Coby: “I Understand the Challenges”


Coby, who has earned a master's degree in community education from UW-Milwaukee, is a newcomer to politics. For more than 20 years, Coby has worked as a community outreach director for Christian Faith Fellowship Church, “helping those who need a hand up,” whether it's helping someone earn a high school diploma, connecting students to tutors, supporting the needs of single parents, getting folks job training, handling family or legal matters, or aiding battered women.

“I care about the community,” Coby said. “I'm very aware and knowledgeable about the challenges the residents face. I'm in the trenches with them. I know what's needed in this community."

Coby said that public transit is “a vital, crucial necessity for members of this district,” since residents rely on Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) to go to work and school and to look for jobs. She said the state needs to allow MCTS to find a sustainable, long-term funding source such as a sales tax or some other option.

She said that fully funded public schools are key to Wisconsin's future and that the state needs to put more money into education. She said that public schools are her first priority, but that students at low-performing schools still deserve a high-quality education, and supports voucher schools as that alternative. But she said that voucher schools needed to be held to the same performance standards as public schools and does not support the recent increase in income eligibility for the program, which has expanded the availability of vouchers to middle-class students.

“It wasn't made for the wealthy,” Coby said. “We've gotten away from the intent of the program.”

She said the state can produce more jobs by “thinking outside of the box” and promoting entrepreneurship.

“We need to do it right inside the 10th District,” Coby said.

She said that the recalls were worth it because they awoke a “sleeping giant.” But, she said, it would have been better if the community had organized before Gov. Scott Walker was elected in 2010, since his agenda was plain to see.

“We should have been proactive instead of reactive,” Coby said.

Coby has been endorsed by two former 10th District representatives—Annette "Polly" Williams and Elizabeth Coggs—as well as state Sen. Lena Taylor, City Treasurer Spencer Coggs, state Rep. Jason Fields, Milwaukee Common Council President Willie Hines and others.

“I am the best candidate to represent this diverse community,” Coby said. “I understand the challenges. I can relate to them.”

To learn more about Millie Coby, go to www.milliecoby.com.

Sandy Pasch: “We Will Fight Back”


Pasch, a nurse who was elected to the state Assembly in 2008, has made health care, especially care for women and those with mental illness, a top priority. Pasch is the chair of the Milwaukee Democratic Legislative Caucus and the Assistant Assembly Democratic Leader. She was tapped to run against state Sen. Alberta Darling in last summer's recall but was unable to oust the Republican from office in a GOP-friendly district.

Pasch said AD 22, which she had represented in the Assembly, was split into five districts because the Republicans would like to see her “go away.” Although she would have to move to live within the new AD 10, she said she'd be a "good fit" in the new district.

“The newly drawn 10th has a huge chunk of my old district,” Pasch said. “It's probably the base of the Democratic movement on the North Shore. It's where the recall originated from, where Grassroots Northshore started. So it's a comfortable fit, continuing to represent Shorewood, but a good fit to represent Riverwest and the rest of Milwaukee.”

She said if she is re-elected she would continue to focus on health care and mental health issues by restoring cuts to women's health programs and BadgerCare and implementing the Affordable Care Act in the state. Pasch said she wants to delve into criminal justice reform, since the state incarcerates more than double the number of individuals that Minnesota does and doesn't adequately rehabilitate those in prison, especially juveniles.

She said she is a strong supporter of public schools and became a volunteer in the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) “because I felt so bad about what they [Republicans] were doing to the children at MPS.”

She said Wisconsin can create more jobs, including manufacturing jobs, by enhancing the state's green energy infrastructure.

“I really think that we can do things that grow jobs and the economy with rail, with public transit, with renewable energy, with what we've seen in [Menomonee] Valley with [solar panel manufacturer] Helios and other entities that are looking at better ways to provide energy for the future and turn Wisconsin into one of those hubs,” Pasch said. “It's a way we can train workers.”

She said the recalls were worth it because it gave the Democrats the majority in the Senate and drove home the importance of voting.

“I think we can take pride in that we are not the kind of state where we will just sit back and let things happen to us,” Pasch said. “That we will fight back.”

To learn more about Sandy Pasch, go to sandyforassembly.com

TAGS: primary election, Democrats, Harriet Callier, Millie Coby, Ieshuh Griffin, Sandy Pasch, Milwaukee, Shorewood, North Shore, Riverwest, Assembly