Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Two Strong Candidates Vie For 62nd Assembly Seat

The 62nd Assembly District is currently an open seat, thanks to the Republicans' gerrymandering. Fortunately for the voters in that district, they have two strong candidates in Melissa Lemke and Randy Bryce, both of whom are vying to take on Robin Vos' hand-picked candidate, Tom Weatherston

I have had the opportunity this week to speak to both Lemke and Bryce and was quite impressed with each candidate.

The thing that I found truly remarkable and heart-warming is that both candidates independently told me that they are not running against each other, but rather are simply two people who happened to both choose to run at this particular time in this particular district. Both candidates proclaimed a mutual respect and admiration of the other and both candidates willingly stated that they would support the winner of Tuesday's primary.

The following is a little bit about each of these fine people.

Melissa Lemke

Melissa Lemke
Melissa told me that she has been in the Racine area for the past six and a half years. She told me that she received her B.A. from UW- La Crosse, with her focus being on Sociology, Psychology and Biology. She received her Master's Degree in Sociology from the UW-Milwaukee.

Melissa currently works for the University of Wisconsin, splitting her time between Madison and Milwaukee doing work in public health research and education. She told me that when she is not working, she spends most of her time volunteering at her church, Big Brothers Big Sisters and other civic minded groups.

When I asked her what the main issues were for her, she told me that her issues are driven by listening to her future constituents. She said that the issues which she hears the most about are jobs, health and education.

I asked her how she would address the issue of jobs. She pointed out that Racine has been one of the hardest hit areas of the state when it came to job loss.  Melissa said that she is hearing from business owners that they need people trained in specific areas, such as a specific type of welding, but they cannot find people trained in these areas.

Melissa said to address this, she would work to make sure that high school programs and the local colleges and universities offer training in the identified areas where there is a need. She said that at the same time, she would work to recruit businesses to come to Racine, where there are many empty locations for them to fill. She said that she would try to get businesses whose needs match the area that the workers are already trained in.

Melissa said that she would also like to increase awareness of health issues, especially as it relates to the rapidly growing aging population. We also discussed how this might help the jobs issue by getting people trained to meet the needs of the increasing number of elderly people.

To learn more about Melissa, you can visit her website and her Facebook page. You can also make a donation at her Act Blue page and sign up to volunteer here.

Randy Bryce

Randy Bryce is a proud member of Ironworkers Local 8 and has helped build many things in Southeast Wisconsin, including putting in the decking for the roof of Miller Park.

Randy Bryce
As one might suspect, with being a good union man, Randy's focus is on jobs and workers' right. Randy told me that she supports unions, wants to restore collective bargaining and workers' rights, not just for unionized workers, but all workers. Randy said that he wants to focus on bring good paying jobs to his community and opposes the corporate favoritism over working people. He said that he felt that he could help define the district as a workers' district and use that to help bring jobs to the community.

Randy said he is also very passionate about education. Has a father of a five year old boy, he is very concerned about his son's future and is outraged that Scott Walker and the Republicans cut education by $1.6 billion. He said that the fact that people's taxes have skyrocketed even while things like education are slashed makes him even more determined to fix things and rebuild his community.

When I asked Randy what prompted him to run, he said that he has been very active in his union's political committee. He said that that after all that has happened in the past year and a half, not all of our elected leaders had stepped up for the people of the state like he would have liked them to.

Randy has earned the endorsements of various unions as well as the endorsement of the esteemed American Mustache Institute.

To learn more about Randy, you can visit his website or his Facebook page. You can donate to Randy at his Act Blue page and you can volunteer by signing up here.

As I said at the beginning, the 62nd is a lucky district to have two fine candidates. The only negative to this race is that both candidates happen to live in the same district. It would have been nice to be able to send both of them to Madison instead of just one.

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