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Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008

Leon Young Faces Three Challengers in the 16th District

Candidates seek job growth and better schools

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The 16th Assembly District is a microcosm of Milwaukee. The district fans out west from the Milwaukee River and encompasses parts of Riverwest, Brewers Hill, the near north side and the west side of Downtown Milwaukee. The district's residents are diverse in every way, and their challenges and opportunities represent the challenges and opportunities of Milwaukee as a whole.

State Rep. Leon Young has represented this district for 16 years and now faces three challengers in the Sept. 9 Democratic pri mary: a former City Hall staffer, a bed and breakfast owner, and a minister. No Republicans are in the race, so the winner of the Democratic primary will automatically win the general election in November.

The four candidates responded to the Shepherd Express' candidate questionnaire.

Richard Badger was an assistant to Mayor Tom Barrett; he has worked on the Safe Summer Initiative, the Common Ground Initiative, the Milwaukee Fatherhood Initiative and Project Safe Neighborhoods. Badger said that job cre ation is critical to the city's success. "The more jobs created in Milwaukee, the more people [will be] employed, and the increased the levels of production (services and commodities) will increase the state sales and income taxes respectively. By sup porting that growth Milwaukee will not only contribute more revenue to the budget but will also effectively increase its own portion of shared revenue through increased economic activity." Badger said that he would like to establish tax incentives to employers that hire ex-offenders and "seriously discuss a mass transit system that can bridge the employer/employee gap in other areas." Badger did not say if he would expand or fix the funding flaw in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program: "I believe we should fund those entities that are educating our children. The issue is not choice vs. public school, the issue is educate vs. incarcerate." Badger's Web site is www.badger4assembly.com.

David D. King is a school bus driver and pastor of Win-A-Soul Ministries. He said that he would ensure that the state gov ernment isn't wasting money and that he would fight for more funding for Milwaukee, since there is more need in the city. "I have a way of getting what I want," King said. He says he doesn't believe that patients receive quality care in government run health care programs. He says that the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program has been a success and should be expanded, because the competition it provides raises the performance of public schools. He does not support a statewide smoking ban that includes bars and restaurants. He does not support a woman's right to choose. "I was raised pro-life from the womb to the tomb," he says. He does not support a 1% increase in the Milwaukee County sales tax to pay for transit, the parks and the arts and pro vide property tax relief. "I would vote to freeze all taxes," King says. He is not a member of the Democratic Party and has been endorsed by Pro-Life Wisconsin and Wisconsin Right to Life. King has received an in-kind contribution from former Republican Sen. Tom Reynolds' PAC, Clean Sweep Wisconsin.

Andy Parker owns Manderley Bed and Breakfast in the Concordia neighborhood and helped to create the Indian Summer Festival. Parker says that while the 16th District has many challenges, its location in the city gives it an advantage. "Our location and the availability of a strong workforce are going to be the keys to our success. We are perfectly poised to take advantage of the current energy crisis. Because of how our community is set up and our close proximity to Downtown, people are going to want to live here again. We have to make sure that these changes benefit the people that live here now. There will be good construction jobs and opportunities in retail and tourism, and we need to take full advantage of these opportunities." Parker would like to see an "army of volunteers help out in the schools to combat underfunding."

Parker gave qualified support to allowing Milwaukee County to raise the sales tax to pay for transit, the parks and the arts. "We need to be very careful to make sure that this money is not mismanaged or that cur rent funding isn't altered to siphon money from these programs." Parker's campaign Web site is www.parker2008.org.

Leon Young has represented the 16th District since 1992; previously, he was a member of the Milwaukee Police Department. "I would like to uplift the people in the 16th Assembly District and throughout the state," he says. Young says that the biggest issues facing the district are crime and employment. He said he would work to bring more funding and economic opportunities to the Milwaukee area. "We, as a state, should work with businesses to stay or locate here. Health care is an issue that needs to be dealt with; if a business has to pay too much for their employees, they will leave or reduce their workforce." Young said that a big priority is adequately funding the public school system. "I have not seen any evidence that [the school choice program] has been successful.

I do not think it should be expanded. We, as a state, should concentrate on public education." Young does not sup port a statewide smoking ban that includes bars and restaurants, but he sup ports a one-cent increase in the Milwaukee County sales tax to fund transit, the arts and the parks.

To read the candidates' responses in full, go to www.expressmilwaukee.com. What's your take? Write: editor@shepex.com or comment on this story online at www.expressmilwaukee.com.