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Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012

Assembly District 18 Candidates Face Questions

Voters look to find Rep. Grigsby's successor

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State Rep. Tamara Grigsby is stepping down from the Assembly, allowing a new representative to be elected to serve the 18th District. Eight candidates will vie for the position in the Aug. 14 Democratic primary; the winner will face Libertarian Party candidate Melba Morris-Page on Nov. 6.

Six candidates faced tough but friendly questioning at a forum sponsored by the Wisconsin Black Chamber of Commerce last Friday. Two candidates—Lisa Erin Brown and James Dieter—did not attend. Below you'll find the candidates' answers to two of the questions presented in the forum.

Jarett Fields

Jarett Fields leads a UW-Milwaukee program to promote underrepresented students in science, technology, engineering and math.

On expunging nonviolent criminal records:
Fields said he supports expungement as long as some sort of education or vocational training requirement is attached to it, since ex-offenders will have to explain why they have a gap in their employment history when applying for a job. “It is difficult enough for an African-American male who does not have a criminal record to find a job. If we're talking about expungement, we have to equip those whose records would be expunged to go out and get training and then find a job.”

On choice and charter schools:
“Given the current economic state in our city, I would feel terrible about taking away a parent's right to choose. Because if that parent is not on the inside track to get their child into Rufus King or get their kid into Riverside or get their kid into Ronald Reagan or [Milwaukee School of Languages], we can't say, 'Well, because you're poor, that sucks for you, sorry.' It's not fair and it's not right… I don't agree with my opponents. Choice does work.”

To learn more about Jarett Fields, go to www.jarettfields.com.

Michael Glabere

Michael Glabere has been a community organizer and developer in Milwaukee for the past 30 years.

On expunging nonviolent criminal records:
“I think we need to make expungement easier. But we also need to change the system.” He said he would like to remove a number of offenses that are currently categorized as felonies and to restore voting rights to ex-offenders who have served their sentence but are on parole.

On choice and charter schools:
Glabere said the voucher system has created segregated public schools with a high concentration of special education and lower-income students. “I do not accept this argument that we are taking people's choice away. They can still choose to go. If the Catholic schools want to take people in, they can give them subsidies, they can give them scholarships. They don't need public money to do that. They did it before and they can do it again. And the for-profit schools that are just there basically just pimping the education system to create jobs for people need to be out there doing what they want to do, but not with public money.”

To learn more about Michael Glabere, go to michaelglabereforassembly.com.

Evan Goyke

Evan Goyke is an assistant public defender and an adjunct professor of law at Marquette University.

On expunging nonviolent criminal records:
Goyke said he would introduce legislation to lift the age cap for expungements so that people of all ages can apply, let people remove convictions from decades ago, and allow dismissals and acquittals to be removed from online court records. “We need a system that looks backward, that is a post-conviction motion. So an individual can put forward documentation and say, 'Since I have finished my sentence, judge, in the past five years I have gotten a job, I've gotten my GED, I have stable housing, I have a young family. I'm working and I'm staying out of the system.'”

On choice and charter schools:
“I believe there should be a moratorium placed on the voucher school system. What I mean by that is a date in the future in which the system dies. So change or adapt in the next decade and become accountable to the public and take public dollars or you don't get money. The system doesn't work. In 2010, all schools, choice and public, had to take the same exam for the first time ever. And students in voucher schools scored equal to MPS students or worse in all subjects that were tested. We spent $150 million on the voucher system in 2011. That's a lot of money for not a lot of outcome.”

To learn more about Evan Goyke, go to goykeforassembly.com.

Ty Jackson

Ty Jackson owned a small business that helped her clients achieve financial security and is currently serving as youth director and church clerk at Providence Baptist Church.

On expunging nonviolent criminal records:
Jackson supports expungement and said that employers discriminate against those with a criminal record. “I believe that you should be able to clear your record and start over if you haven't done any criminal activity for a certain period of time.”

On choice and charter schools:
Jackson said she wasn't strongly for or against vouchers but wanted to make sure that funding of education was fair so that the voucher schools don't take money away from public schools. “I believe that parents should have a choice on where their child goes to school. I am a big supporter of MPS. I'm a big supporter of education. I don't feel that funding should be cut in education to where we have to cut it over here and these people over here can't have it.”

To learn more about Ty Jackson, go to sites.google.com/site/tyjacksonwi.

Andrew Parker

Andrew Parker owns Manderley Bed and Breakfast and helped to create Indian Summer Festival.

On expunging nonviolent criminal records:
“I think expungement needs to be looked at… I think that the employer needs to know [about the conviction]. I think that what we need, probably, is more jobs.”

On choice and charter schools:
“I'm a supporter of public schools. It's ingrained in me. As far as choice and charter schools—there is a difference between choice and charter schools. Choice or voucher schools are private. They get a certain amount of money to educate students that is public money. Charter schools are chartered by the municipality or MPS. They are public schools. They fall under the guidelines. I'm in favor of charter schools. I think they are a great alternative for people to choose… The choices are there with the charter schools. Choice schools—that's a whole different thing. I think the explosion of voucher schools over the past couple of years are being run by people who are just in it for the money.”

To learn more about Andrew Parker, go to parkerwi.com.

LaShawndra Vernon

LaShawndra Vernon is chair of the Milwaukee County Human Trafficking Task Force and is an expert on restorative justice and community mediation.

On expunging nonviolent criminal records:
“I absolutely support expungement strategies and one specific strategy I'd like to apply—I am a domestic violence [victim] advocate.” She would like to focus on safe harbor laws for teens who have been charged with prostitution so that they can be counseled without having an early criminal record.

On choice and charter schools:
“If you are a parent in any of the public schools or any of the schools that had to take the WKCE, you probably had a very stressed-out child who has spent a lot of time preparing for tests and not learning. What we have done in this city with the entrenchment around public vs. private vs. charter—let's call it what it is. We've created a rift in our community that is socioeconomic oppression. And it is specific to identify all of these failures in schools. And now stress is on our kids. That's where it falls.”

To learn more about LaShawndra Vernon, go to www.votevernon.com.