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Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2008

South Side Incumbent Gets a Challenge

Honadel and Brower vie for the 21st Assembly District

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Mark Honadel became the first Republican representative of the 21st Assembly District in 75 years when he won a special election in 2003 against Al Foeckler. The district— which encompasses Oak Creek, South Milwaukee and two wards of Milwaukee— had long been represented by Democrats Richard Grobschmidt and Jeff Plale, and its voters tend to be fiscally and socially conservative.

Small-business owner Honadel faces a challenge on Nov. 4 from Democrat Glen Brower, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel and former director of the Wisconsin State Veterans Home in Union Grove.

Both candidates were asked to complete a standard questionnaire for our readers. Brower agreed, while Honadel declined, saying that he doesn’t fill out any questionnaires from news organizations or special interest groups. Instead, we’ve relied on his record in the state Assembly to provide information about his stand on the major issues facing Wisconsin.

Here’s how the candidates stand on the issues facing the state:

The State’s Economy

Honadel has a 100% voting record with the conservative business lobbying group Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) since being elected, as well as with the conservative Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce from 2003-2006. Honadel opposed requiring corporations to disclose some financial information to the public for tax purposes, opposed requiring insurers to cover autism therapy and opposed requiring utilities and manufacturers to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Honadel co-sponsored legislation in 2007 to privatize Mitchell International Airport and remove it from county oversight.

Brower supports the American Jobs Act, which provides contract priority to American businesses that keep jobs in the country; a 25% renewable energy research and development tax credit; and the creation of “green collar” and 21st-century industries, such as stem cell research.

Health Care

Honadel told a reporter that he is “against universal health care” and prefers to provide for taxfree health savings accounts. Honadel voted against requiring insurers to cover autism therapy.

Brower believes that health care is “a right and not a privilege,” and supports the universal coverage plan dubbed Healthy Wisconsin, introduced in the state Senate last year, or a similar plan. Brower supports autism treatment coverage.

School Choice

Honadel supported lifting the enrollment cap on the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. Earlier this year he co-sponsored a bill that would expand the program to Milwaukee suburbs without fixing the funding flaw that penalizes Milwaukee property taxpayers.

Brower says he supports “public school choice (aka open enrollment), where parents can send their child to a public school in another district, but I oppose private school choice (aka the voucher system), where taxpayers’ money is used to fund private schools.” He cites concerns about the separation of church and state, the lack of standards in voucher schools, and tax implications as reasons why he opposes the program.

Nuclear Power

Honadel, a member of the Energy and Utilities Committee and the Wisconsin Legislative Council Special Committee on Nuclear Power, voted this year to allow more nuclear power plants to be constructed in the state by lifting the current moratorium on new plant construction.

Brower supports developing nuclear power plants if government oversight of construction and operation is strengthened and if the resulting nuclear waste is disposed of safely.

Reproductive Rights

Honadel received a qualified endorsement from Wisconsin Right to Life and a full endorsement from Pro-Life Wisconsin for his total opposition to abortion in any case, including saving the life of the mother and in cases of rape or incest. In January, he voted against requiring emergency rooms to offer emergency contraception to victims of rape or incest if the woman requests it.

Brower said that he is personally against abortion, but added, “I would vote for the right of a woman to choose and decide for herself what is the right thing for her to do with her body.” He is concerned that outlawing abortion would lead women to “look outside the realm of the law and good health practices” when seeking to terminate a pregnancy.

What’s your take? Write: editor@shepex.com or comment on this story online at www.expressmilwaukee.com.

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