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Quinn, Westlund seek seat in Wisconsin Senate

Voters decide Nov. 8 who will represent them in the 25th District; early voting starts Tuesday, Oct. 25.

Election 2022 in United States
Midterm Election 2022 in United States.
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SUPERIOR — The third open seat up for grabs in Northwest Wisconsin on Nov. 8 is the 25th District seat in the Wisconsin Senate.

State Sen. Janet Bewley, D-Mason, announced earlier this year that she wouldn’t seek a third term.

Romaine Quinn, a Republican from Cameron, and Kelly Westlund, an Ashland Democrat, are vying to fill the resulting vacancy.

"This district is the largest in the state of Wisconsin,” Westlund said. “It's got some different challenges and different priorities from one corner to the next. Personally, I'm committed to forming something of a citizen advisory council in the district where I would include people with perspectives that are different than my own — people who have been underserved or harmed by policy in the past and even people I disagree with — to make sure that I am looking at every issue with an open mind and fairness. I think that democracy works better when there are more people involved."

For Quinn, it wouldn’t be the first time he served in the Legislature.

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“Madison could use a good dose of northern Wisconsin common sense, and that is exactly what I plan to bring down there if I am fortunate enough to be elected,” Quinn said. “I also believe people want both parties to work together to at least make progress on areas we can all agree on. I’m proud to say that when I was previously in office over 92% of the legislation we passed was bipartisan.

“It is also important that legislators make themselves available to their constituents and keep the district informed on what is happening in the capitol. When I served, I always made it a point to consistently hold listening sessions in all corners of the district while sending out a weekly email with updates from the Capitol. Although we live the furthest from Madison, we should still always be able to contact our representatives and stay informed," Quinn said.

Economy

Both candidates agree the economy is posing a challenge for people right now, but they have different ideas on how to address it at a state level.

Quinn would push to return some of the surplus to Wisconsinites.

“The state has collected more money than it needs to operate this biennium so it should return the excess to the people who overpaid and need it the most," he said.

However, he said if the federal government continues on its current path, the problem with inflation is going to persist.

By approving and building Enbridge’s Line 5 reroute project in northern Wisconsin, Quinn said officials would provide a safe and reliable energy transportation system, create 700 until construction jobs and millions in investment would come to the area.

“Cutting off 545,000 barrels of petroleum products in the middle of a global energy crunch would be foolish at best,” Quinn said.

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Westlund would take a different path.

“Inflation is a global issue of concern and the only way we're going to build our own self-reliance separate from the global oil markets is to find ways to be better at conserving energy and be better at providing our own,” Westlund said.

That could include weatherization, which would create jobs and save people money on their utility bills; and start transitioning away from fossil fuels to radiological technology that will reduce reliance on foreign oil.

"We've also got to bring manufacturing jobs back to this country, and back to Wisconsin in particular, because so much of what goes with inflation is the cost of transporting items which are now frequently made overseas," Westlund said.

Other things the state can do to help include suspending the gas tax; providing a tax rebate given the surplus to help address household costs; and addressing the need for affordable child care in the state.

"These are all pretty big-ticket items for families across the state," Westlund said.

Personal freedom

Westlund said she sees a role for government so everyone can pursue the American dream.

“I don’t believe that there’s a woman in Wisconsin who’s free to pursue their version of the American dream when they’re not free to decide when and if they start a family, and how many children they have,” Westlund said. She said she would like to see reproductive rights codified into law rather than operating under an 1849 law.

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Beyond that, she said high-quality, fully-funded public education; affordable higher education; affordable, accessible health care; and addressing the housing crisis are all needed to put the American dream within reach for the average person.

Quinn said individuals and their families know best, not the government.

“Economic freedom is key to achieving the American dream,” Quinn said. “I believe individuals and their families know best how to spend their money, not the government. We can’t keep sending people to Madison that believe government has to continue to try and plan our lives for us. The American dream is built upon allowing people to imagine, aspire, and create their own lives that in turn benefits us all.”

Quinn said he also supports educational freedom.

“Education is a springboard for success which allows people to reach the American dream, and I believe parents should be able to choose which educational setting is best for their children,” Quinn said.

Democracy

Quinn and Westlund said they will both accept the results of the election and believe election workers in the district do a good job to make sure elections are fair.

However, they both agree that it’s not good for democracy when a significant portion of the population questions the outcome of an election.

“I believe we should be able to come together on a number of election integrity measures in a bipartisan way that reassures everyone that our elections are safe,” Quinn said. “One example of this would be to ban any outside funding of the administration of our elections.”

If municipalities need more money to hold elections, Quinn said the state should step up to offer financial support because elections are a government function.

“We should never allow partisan interest groups to pour money into the administration of our elections,” Quinn said.

Westlund said restoring faith in Wisconsin’s elections should start with civic education.

“I have worked as a poll worker before and I know what kind of training our election workers go through,” Westlund said. “I understand the various levels of oversight that are involved in that work, and I have never believed that someone could walk into a polling place with things like a suitcase full of ballots and have them counted. It’s just not something that happens within our system of election governance.”

She said when people see that up close, it lets them have a little more faith in the system.

Romaine Robert Quinn

RomaineQuinn.jpg
Romaine Quinn
Contributed / Romaine Quinn

Address: Cameron

Age: 32

Family: Married with one son and another son due in December.

Business/employment: Realtor.

Education: Interdisciplinary bachelor’s degree in political science and public leadership from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

Government and/or civic experience and organizations: Former city council member and mayor of Rice Lake; state representative from 2014 to 2020; member of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau, Realtors Association, Knights of Columbus and parish council for St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Rice Lake.

Why did you decide to run for state Senate?

“Expecting my first child was the reason I chose not to run for reelection to the state Assembly. However, having my first child is exactly the reason I am now running for state Senate.

“Our kids and grandkids deserve to grow up in the same Wisconsin we all have. I want families to be able to work and put money away for the future. Schools that focus on teaching our kids the basics while giving them every opportunity to succeed. Communities that are safe and where law enforcement is respected. And a state government that lives within its means, is accountable to the people, and upholds our individual freedoms.

“It is time once again that Madison knows who we are here in northern Wisconsin.”

Kelly Westlund

KellyWESTLUND.png
Kelly Westlund
Contributed / Marlee Schlegel

Address: Ashland

Age: 39

Family: Married; helped her parents raise her niece and nephew after her sister died.

Business/employment: Worked as regional representative for U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin for seven years; left the government position to run for office.

Education: First in family to attend a four-year college; graduated from Northland College with a degree in conflict resolution; went through the two-year Leadership Wisconsin program offered by University of Wisconsin-Extension that focuses on rural leadership.

Government and/or civic experience and organizations: Former city councilor in Ashland and served on the public works committee among others; has been engaged with the Democratic Party since she was old enough to vote; Chequamegon Bay Area Young Professionals; was one of the people in Ashland who started the Bay City Cultural Center; and served as Baldwin's regional representative working with constituents and local government.

Why did you decide to run for state Senate?

"I've spent so much of the last 10 years getting to know the diverse interests and concerns and challenges of the people across this district. A lot of folks feel as though they are not being well represented in Madison. There is some frustration with this feeling that the political interests aren't really doing much to help people who are struggling, and they are making it worse."

She said while the open seat presented an opportunity, she also brings the experience and skills needed to do the job well.

"I'm going to make sure that northern Wisconsin gets its fair share in terms of infrastructure investment and consideration when it comes to issues of local control and affordable health care, and things we all care about."

Related Topics: ELECTION 2022WISCONSIN
Shelley Nelson is a reporter with the Duluth Media Group since 1997, and has covered Superior and Douglas County communities and government for the Duluth News Tribune from 1999 to 2006, and the Superior Telegram since 2006. Contact her at 715-395-5022 or snelson@superiortelegram.com.
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As reported by Douglas County Circuit Court.