By Sean Ryan
Daily Reporter Staff Seven Republicans will vie in a special primary Tuesday in the 33rd Senate District for the right to face Democratic challenger Dawn Marie Sass in the July 10 general elections. The Senate seat, vacated when Margaret Farrow, R-Pewaukee, opted to become lieutenant governor, has stood open since May. Gov. Scott McCallum on May 6 called for the special election to replace Farrow. The 33rd District covers Milwaukee’s western suburbs, including Brookfield, Elm Grove and Pewaukee. Here’s a look at the Republican hopefuls and their views of the most pressing statewide construction issues:
Dortzbach, a Brookfield resident, is a business attorney with Michael Best and Friedrich LLP and an adjunct professor of business planning at Marquette University Law School. He worked for four years on the U.S. Senate Small Business Committee staff. Dortzbach said he wants to help the industry by limiting the project permit approval time for state agencies, such as the Department of Natural Resources. “I propose that we should have more instances where we have automatic approval for permits in the state,” he said. “Or if an agency doesn’t get back to you within a certain amount of time, you have approval. I propose that for the DNR as one, but I think it works for all state agencies.” Dortzbach said he also supports municipal smart growth programs and backs plans to give state money to municipalities to create smart growth development strategies.
Kanavas is a former staff member in the state Department of Administration and for Republican Congressman James Sensenbrenner, who endorsed Kanavas for the Senate seat. The Brookfield resident has served on the Elmbrook School Board since 2000. Kanavas said his construction priority is to create a more business-friendly climate in Wisconsin. He encourages tax cuts, infrastructure improvements, technical college funding and employer apprenticeship and tuition tax credits.
“People say that taxes don’t really have an effect on whether businesses decide to come here, but that’s a bunch of hooey,” he said. Kanavas said the state should stop spending $350 million a year to build new schools but should maintain its budget on state building projects. He said the state returns about 15 cents to every dollar of education taxes his district pays because most of the money is spent on rebuilding schools in other areas.
Marcello said he knows a lot about public project contracting through his six years as the Brookfield Board of Public Works chairman. He sells real estate for Shorewest Realtors in Milwaukee. Marcello said he thinks the apprenticeship tax credit would attract skilled tradesmen to Wisconsin and help state businesses retain them. He said his district is having problems keeping workers in the area after they graduate, and the tax credit could be a solution. “Homegrown Waukesha County people tend to graduate and take off,” Marcello said. “I’d be open to the tax credit because this isn’t a new story for us. It’s something employers have been concerned about for the last decade.” He said he is also in favor of cutting the state’s building budget as long as it’s proportional to reductions the state Legislature makes to other budgets.
McLaughlin has been a pharmaceutical salesman for 29 years and has four years’ experience as a Waukesha County supervisor. The Brookfield resident said training tradesmen in Wisconsin’s technical schools is one of the state’s most important duties. He said he favored giving tax breaks to employers who pay their employees’ tuition. “If an individual is working in the area and is allowed to go to school and have the employer pay for it, that does two things,” McLaughlin said. “It adds to the skilled labor pool and it keeps the worker in our district.” He said he supports moderate cuts to the state building budget to balance the biennial deficit but wouldn’t support transferring funds from the building budget to other programs. “We should reduce it, but we shouldn’t take the funds that are there and funnel them into something else,” he said.
Newcomer has a degree in construction management from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and runs a business that teaches people how to start home inspection companies. Newcomer said the state should keep supporting and promoting its technical colleges to help the skilled labor pool grow. “We have to address the fact that there are so many financial benefits for people going to college,” he said. “I think we need more people in the hands-on construction industry, so I’m very pro-technical college.” Newcomer said he also supports the apprenticeship tax credit as a way to give skilled tradesmen an incentive to stay in Wisconsin. “You have to consider everything to deal with as big of a shortage as there is,” he said. “Investing in a work force or an employment program is investing in a worker that’s going to stay in the state.”
| Mentioned in this Article Brookfield Department
of Public Works Gov. Scott McCallum Marquette University
Law School Michael Best and Friedrich LLP Shorewest Realtors Wisconsin Department
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Schellinger is a lifetime 33rd District resident and, as a Brookfield alderman, has served on the city’s Finance Committee and Water and Sewer Board. He’s worked at Acura of Brookfield for 23 years. Schellinger said the state has too many laws that over-regulate businesses, including contractors. “I think a lot of times we’re passing laws that don’t apply to a lot of people,” he said. “I think overall the people involved in the construction industry, and business in general, do a very good job. I don’t think they need to be overregulated.” Schellinger said he doesn’t have much background in construction, but supports the apprenticeship tax credit and believes the state highways are at the end of their life span and will need improvement soon.
Valenti, a Brookfield resident, has worked independently since 1988 as a civil litigation attorney specializing in personal injury, workers’ compensation and family and estate law. She has no previous political experience. Valenti said she opposes cutting money from Wisconsin’s technical colleges. “I would like to see for any type of education that at least we look for someplace else to cut our taxes,” she said. Valenti said it might be necessary to slash the building budget this year, but said the cuts should be equal to money taken out of other state budgets. “They may have to suffer to the same extent as everybody else,” she said. “Unfortunately everybody’s going to have to tighten their belt until we make up the deficit.” Madison writer Sean Ryan can be reached at 608-260-8571 or by email.