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Election Preview: 98th State Assembly District Republican Primary

Five GOP candidates are vying for the chance to represent the 98th Assembly District in the state Legislature.

Five Republican candidates are running for the vacant seat in the 98th Assembly District in a special primary election on Feb. 19.

The winner will advance to the general election on April 2, however, since there is no Democratic candidate, that person is all but certain to win the seat. The district includes Pewaukee, Sussex and portions of Waukesha.

The candidates are Ed Baumann, Todd Greenwald, Matt Morzy, Adam Neylon and Jeanne Tarantino (Click on link for biographical information on each candidate). The five are running to replace Paul Farrow, who was elected to the 33rd Senate District in December.

To provide voters with the most information on where they stand on the issues facing the state, Patch invited readers to submit questions that we posed to the candidates.

Here, in their own words, are the candidates' answers to those questions as well as some posed by Patch.

Why are you running for state Assembly? Ed Baumann I am running to continue my passion for serving the people. My experience as a public servant is unquestionably the distinguishing characteristic of my candidacy. I am not a politician, but a problem solver. My life’s experiences as a coach, as an adjunct professor at Marquette University, as an Emergency Manager for the Village of Pewaukee, and as a small business manager have prepared me to continue to serve the people. I have a track record of success driving progress and delivering collaborative change to make our communities better.
Todd Greenwald
Like many citizens I have become more active in what is happening in my community and government over the past 4 years. The failed recall efforts and the accomplishments of the Republicans in the great state of Wisconsin motivated me to get even more involved. They are making great strides in moving Wisconsin forward and I would like to help.
Matt Morzy I am running for the Assembly in order to make Wisconsin a better place to raise a family. I am uniquely qualified to work in the Legislature to improve the business climate in order to help Wisconsin citizens find and keep a job to support their families. I plan on using my background in finance in order to help make our state more efficient, to budget not just for today but also for the future, and to make sure Wisconsin remains a great place to raise a family.
Adam Neylon  I'm running because I believe we need more people in government with first-hand experience running a business and dealing with the issues facing local job creators. I own a small business and know the importance of balancing a budget and living within your means. We should expect government to do the same. I understand the challenges we face, and will work hard to provide common sense solutions that lead to a stronger business climate in Wisconsin, lower taxes and transform education.
Jeanne Tarantino

I am running for State Assembly because I have the passion to serve.  My experience in building a small business in Waukesha, along with serving in Governor Walker’s Administration, as Lt. Governor Kleefisch’s Chief of Staff qualifies me to hit the ground running in April when this seat is sworn in.  We will be in the middle of passing our state budget which will set the course for the next two years. Our families, businesses, schools and community organizations deserve a strong conservative voice to represent them in this important process.  Our economy is growing at too slow a pace and too many families in Wisconsin are still feeling the effects of the deep recession we faced three years ago. Too many people in our state are unemployed or underemployed. We need to improve our business climate to attract investment in our state, to keep the companies we have and bring into our communities companies who are looking for a qualified, skilled workforce. Wisconsin businesses deserve a state government that doesn’t stand in the way of their success. Our Governor and Lt. Governor understand this and have balanced our state budget in the last biennium. They deserve a State Legislature who will help fight for Wisconsin companies and control the growth of government spending, regulation and red tape. I will help him fight the big government agenda in Madison.

What is the biggest issue facing the state, and how would you deal with it, if elected? 

Ed Baumann There are three major issues: jobs, jobs and more jobs. As a successful small business owner, I have first-hand experience in creating jobs and helping people grow professionally. I will utilize my experience to develop a “business-first” mentality in Madison and help showcase Waukesha County and develop a vibrant and robust local job market.
Todd Greenwald
I believe the biggest issue is indeed jobs. I think that Governor Walker and the Republicans are on the right path in some of the moves they are already discussing. In particular passing new mining legislation will show companies that Wisconsin is not only open for business, but encourages it. We need to be actively and aggressively encouraging business to come to Wisconsin. And finally we need to have a workforce that has the background, experience, and education necessary to fill these jobs.
Matt Morzy The biggest issue we face as a state is getting people back to work. I have the perfect background and experience to make sure this gets done. We need to make sure that every law that gets passed has this in mind. I will make sure that every bill that I read will be viewed within the lenses of job creation. Two main ways that we can work towards the goal of getting people back to work are with tax cuts to the middle class, and improving the business climate in our state.
Adam Neylon  Without question, the biggest issue facing our state is the economy. We must improve the business climate in Wisconsin by reforming the regulatory process, lowering taxes, transforming education, and reducing the cost of doing business in our state. Further, we must close the "skills-gap" in order to properly train the next generation of workers and enact a system to connect skilled-workers to jobs in great need from current and future employers.
Jeanne Tarantino

I believe our ultimate challenge is making sure Wisconsin is the place where when that day arrives my children and their classmates want to stay and raise a family here, and have the opportunities to do so. To do so, we have to understand our neighboring states serve as our competition for new relocation or expansion jobs, and for state-based companies, we need to make sure the grass is not greener across the border.  We need to make sure our tax structure is competitive—and that our state’s key infrastructures, specifically roadways and power supply are well-maintained and able to address both current and future needs. Of critical importance, many companies in Wisconsin are looking to hire, but cannot find enough skilled workers to fill vacancies. I have been working for Governor Walker’s Administration to help develop solutions to address this skills gap. I know that developing a talent pool of people with the right skills is the cornerstone of moving our state forward. As manufacturing rebounds from this deep recession, communities that develop a globally competitive workforce will be the economic winners. Part of the solutions lies in our education system. We need to educate those in our K-12 of expanded opportunities beyond a four year degree, and make sure our technical schools and both two and four year universities are matching education opportunities to workforce needs so our kids have the education and training for the jobs of the future.

What specifically do you propose to create more jobs and stimulate the economy? 

Ed Baumann I will aggressively champion tax reform. Wisconsin’s high corporate tax rate cripples the creation of new jobs. I will work collaboratively and across the aisle to lower taxes and stimulate the economy. I have an established network of successful small business owners who will advise me on ways to stimulate area job growth and re-establish a prosperous local and state-wide economy.
Todd Greenwald
I would like to see reductions in income taxes, this puts money in the hands of the individual. In turn they chose how to spend that money, and when they spend that money it creates a stronger economy. Ultimately that stronger economy will create jobs, not government. It is governments roll to make sure Wisconsin has the infrastructure and skilled labor to fill the positions that follow the growth.
Matt Morzy In order to stimulate the economy, we need to foster an environment that welcomes businesses into our state instead of one during the Doyle years of ill will to our states businesses. One way to improve the business climate is to review and modernize the regulations in our state. I support the Assembly Republicans plan of “Right the Rules” which is a comprehensive audit of all of our states regulations. Modernizing our state regulations is a great way to improve the efficiency of both our state and our employers.
Adam Neylon  Here is my Five Point Plan to create jobs and grow the economy: 
1. Streamline the regulatory process to cut down on the bureaucratic red-tape hindering economic growth.
2. Offer tax relief by lowering individual income tax rates, corporate income tax rates and eliminate the sales tax on inter-company transfers.
3. Reduce the cost of doing business in Wisconsin by lowering energy costs.
4. Enact a system to connect skilled-workers to jobs in great need from current and future employers.
5. Transform our education system to properly train our workforce for positions going unfilled today, tomorrow and for years to come.
Jeanne Tarantino

Governor Walker has our state on the right path, with more work to be done.  We must reduce the cost of doing business in our state and by making our tax code more competitive so our companies will want to stay here.  In addition, we must intensify our efforts to provide new capital opportunities for companies looking to grow or relocate their business to Wisconsin and successfully compete in a globalized economy. We need to pass a middle class tax cut so people can keep more of their hard-earned money. Cutting taxes and reducing a government bureaucracy will be my major focus so we can grow our economy and put more people back to work. Government needs to let the private sector lead the way.

The great people of our state have a well-earned reputation for a strong work ethic.  We need to match that work ethic with a world class workforce development effort, aligning our educational and job training programs to match the in-demand skills of employers. 

Gov. Walker has said he is going to propose income tax cuts in his next budget. Do you support such cuts, and how do you think they should be paid for?

Ed Baumann I do support tax cuts and will work hand-in-hand with Governor
Walker and the members of the assembly to stimulate the economy. I have had experience developing and administering multi-million dollar budgets and will utilize that experience to ensure a fiscally responsible budget.
Todd Greenwald
If Governor Walker and the Republicans were able to run a surplus based on their budget last last year why would cuts mean there would be a deficit this year? In other words the room for cuts is already there. Furthermore, my experience has shown me that there is almost alway room for efficiencies, and with added efficiency there is added savings.
Matt Morzy I support the income tax cuts that Governor Walker has mentioned. It is time that we look at taxes as what they really are, the earnings of hard working citizens of Wisconsin. Our goal as a state government should be to provide the necessary services for our citizens in the most efficient manner. When we have more tax revenue than needed, we need to give it back.
Adam Neylon  I support Governor Walker's tax relief plan. I believe this question is fundamentally flawed because lowering taxes will actually generate higher revenues, thus generating more tax dollars. When the economy grows, people make more money; new jobs are created and our quality of life improves. I believe the economy works best when individuals keep more of their income, and businesses have more money to invest and add jobs.
Jeanne Tarantino

I don’t believe the initial presumption should be, “how do we pay for tax cuts” as I believe the better questions is, “how much government can taxpayers afford.”  I am a proponent in wage earners keeping as much of their money as possible, and keeping government as affordable as possible.
Yes, I support Governor Walker’s plan to provide a middle class tax cut and his plans to pay for it from the surplus.  His proposed $300 million tax cut should be paid for with the resources we saved through our state’s growing economy.  Bob Lang, Director of the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, projected our state’s surplus will be $420 million on June 30th, with $9 million in the rainy day fund.  It’s a good idea to provide middle class tax cuts for the three lowest income tax brackets so taxpayers can keep more of their hard earned money.Moving ahead, we should continue to examine how Wisconsin can build the most efficient and effective government, while keeping more money in the pockets of taxpayers.

What is your position on the proposed mining bill? What is the best way to balance the needs for new jobs with the environmental concerns about the proposed mine? 

Ed Baumann I support passing responsible mining bill legislation. This will create more jobs throughout the entire state. I will work with Governor Walker and be his staunchest supporter and act as a change agent to help the Wisconsin economy develop and prosper while prtecting the environment.
Todd Greenwald
I cannot comment on the bill as it stands to date as I have not seen the bill as it is to be passed. That said, based on what I have seen and read I believe there are many ways to shorten the time it takes to get the permits needed to open a mine without sacrificing and environmental concerns.
Matt Morzy I support the mining bill that was proposed by Assembly Republicans. We need to do what we can to get people back to work. Our state has a rich history of mining and one that I am proud of. We have an opportunity here to enrich this history of our Badger state and at the same time create jobs that will last. I agree that this needs to be done in a responsible way that protects our state’s resources so that we are able to enjoy the beautiful landscape that is northern Wisconsin.
Adam Neylon  I support mining legislation. If this bill passes, it will create thousands of good-paying jobs that are generational. Not only in northern Wisconsin, but manufacturing jobs right here in southeast Wisconsin. Reforming current law to allow for safe-environmentally friendly mining will help move our state forward. As your next State Representative, I will support mining legislation that reforms the permitting process while keeping intact environmental safeguards that protect our air, land, and water resources.
Jeanne Tarantino

I believe the current bill will appropriately protect our natural resources while creating new jobs. The proposed  mine would need to be approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  It would also need to meet water quality standards set by the Bad River Chippewa Tribe downstream of the mine site.  The bill streamlines the permitting process and the reality is that businesses, including mining companies, deserve a more predictable regulatory climate. The mining company’s proposed investment in our state has the potential to create over 3,000 jobs statewide, with 700 jobs paying an average salary of $82,000 for mining workers. This also has the potential to give our construction industry a needed boost to build the mine, estimates have shown 2,000 jobs will be created to build the mine. The potential impact on our tax base from the mining operation is estimated at $14 billion in the form of state and local taxes which would help fund local schools, roads and other programs. I will support this legislation.

Which state programs or departments - if any - do you think deserve to be cut, and which programs are of utmost importance to fully fund?
Ed Baumann The education budget needs to be reviewed. First and foremost, I will utilize my experience and knowledge as Chief of Police to ensure our schools are safe and secure for teachers and students. Second, I realize that traditional colleges aren’t right for everyone. I will educate the community about the benefits of community colleges and technical institutions. I will promote school choice and home-schooling and ensure we get maximum return on investing in our future and making tomorrow better for all.
Todd Greenwald
I believe the primary role of our government is to keep its citizens safe, so I would not support cuts to police, fire, military, etc. We also need to continue to support our education system with the funding it needs. I also support the need for efficient infrastructure to allow for business to transport products. As far as any cuts, I would need to understand how significant of a cut it is, as well as the consequences of those specific cuts.
Matt Morzy I think we should do a full audit of all government programs. We should use the principles of zero-based budgeting and have each department assign priorities to each program. As a Legislature, we would then review the department’s recommendations and make our decisions based on their internal reviews.
Adam Neylon  We should focus on making state government more efficient and responsive to the people of Wisconsin. Within Wisconsin's 71 state agencies, there are several state programs and departments in need of reform and spending cuts. By restructuring agencies and increasing transparency, we'll have the tools necessary to pinpoint wasteful spending and the ability to make government more efficient. I believe in complete and total government transparency and feel that every state program and department should list their expenses in a simple to use spreadsheet online, so that taxpayers can identify exactly where their money is being spent. 
Jeanne Tarantino

It’s not only about cutting government programs but also about making government leaner and more effective. I worked on the Governor’s Lean Government Initiative and believe this priority will result in greater efficiencies by rooting out waste. I will also support the Administration’s efforts to save money by cutting positions that have remained vacant. This is a reasonable way to eliminate government jobs that are no longer needed while saving taxpayer money. Our state should not provide support for expensive programs that provide little or no benefit to taxpayers.  Taking a Lean approach will provide savings and eliminate waste.  We need to change the way government does business, aligning our philosophy with the private sector to incentivize performance, reward excellence and provide a return of investment to taxpayers.

Luke February 11, 2013 at 11:37 PM
Youthful indiscretions are common. I think I was about that age when I received a speeding ticket for going 65 mph over the speed limit and had to pay a fine of $265. It's not like he was 35 years old or older and volunteered for Gwen Moore's campaign, and then a few years later lied about the Lt. Governor of Wisconsin under oath and failed to make payroll deductions or pay taxes for his nanny. Can we say that about Tarantino?
Keith Best February 12, 2013 at 12:09 AM
ImConservative......come to the Forum tonight and ask him yourself. As you know, I do not work for Adam, I only support him to be my state rep because he is the most qualified.........and he is honest and doesn't lie under oath.
Conni Neylon February 12, 2013 at 01:04 AM
this is not true , He was never suspened rom college and his fraternity did not close while he attented Caroll
Forester February 12, 2013 at 04:59 AM
@Luke Lies. She volunteered for Gwen Moore for part of one summer over 20 years ago. Her nanny taxes are due in 2013 "Tarantino's accountant has told her that she is not out of compliance, Fitzgerald said, because the 2012 taxes are not due yet."
Luke February 12, 2013 at 05:20 AM
@Forester What's your point? That I was off by a couple of years? So what? Also, payroll deductions are done at the time of payment. That is different than her personal taxes. She is not out of compliance for her personal taxes for 2012. That does not mean, however, that she complied with the law concerning payroll taxes. Since she and I agree that she has not paid, I wish you would stop countering the position of the person you are voting for.

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