Voters to decide between Luostari, Sapik for 73rd Assembly seat
With an open seat in the 73rd Assembly District, two Republicans stepped forward to represent Burnett, Douglas and Washburn counties.
SUPERIOR — Voters in northern and western communities of Douglas County join voters in northern Washburn and Burnett counties to shape the ticket for the 73rd District Assembly seat.
Two Republicans, Angie Sapik of Lake Nebagamon and Scott Luostari of Lakeside, will be on the Tuesday, Aug. 9 ballot for a chance to move on to the Nov. 8 election. The winner will face Democrat Laura Gapske of Superior to determine who will represent the 73rd District when Rep. Nick Milroy, D-South Range, steps down next year.
Milroy announced in April that he won’t be seeking reelection.
Sapik said Milroy’s decision not to run played a role in her decision to seek office.
“I’m unapologetically American. Conservative. Bold,” Sapik said. “I’m willing to fight to help maintain general laws without government overreach, and I plan on voting down any laws that hinder our freedoms. I have also made friends along the way in this campaign in the state Senate and Assembly. We’re building a strong Republican team to take on new challenges and do great things for the people of the 73rd District. It’s a really exciting time for our party to have great influence in Northwestern Wisconsin.”
Luostari said Milroy’s decision also played a role in his decision to run.
“My experience over the last 20 years at the local government level through the various community boards, such as Head of the Lakes Fair and Douglas County 4-H, and my experience with the Lakeside Town Board and Douglas County Board of Supervisors in various capacities, have given me knowledge of how to work with people on both sides of the aisle to accomplish policies and programs for the betterment of all residents of the communities I served. I will bring the same knowledge and experiences to serve all residents of the 73rd Assembly District.”
Both candidates agree that infrastructure from roads to broadband needs to be a priority in the next two years, as does the economy.
With inflation over 9% and gas prices at record highs, Sapik said wages can’t keep up and she’s concerned how fixed-income households can handle the higher prices.
“This isn’t a short-term problem,” Sapik said. “This will take years to correct itself. We can’t leave people behind.”
Sapik said fixing the per-capita calculation that determines how funding is appropriated is essential to do better for towns like Minong and Danbury. She would like to see more people involved locally to decide what should be priorities, such as fixing Douglas County Highway M in Moose Junction or Douglas County Highway H in Brule.
“The squeaky wheel gets the grease; we just need to shout louder,” Sapik said.
Luostari said roads and bridges — essential for commuters and tourists alike — are at the forefront.
Broadband is also one of his priorities.
“If the pandemic taught us anything, it is the importance of having broadband internet access to all Wisconinites,” Luostari said, adding that his grandchildren struggled with remote learning. “Every person in our state should have access to broadband internet.
Lastly, Luostari said, finding a balance among industry, agriculture and the environment is extremely important to ensure residents have good-paying jobs and tourists can enjoy the region’s lakes, rivers and rural areas.
Budget surplus and taxation
Wisconsin has an estimated $3.8 billion budget surplus coming out of the most recent fiscal biennium. What officials will do with it remains unclear.
Luostari and Sapik agree that frivolous spending should be avoided, but they have different ideas on how the surplus should be handled.
“I will fight to secure more funding for our highways and bridges to ease the burden on our residents,” Luostari said.
Overspending by government creates a burden for taxpayers that is not fair, Luostari said. With the changing economic climate, Luostari said legislators need to be prepared to take action so residents don’t have to carry the burden.
Sapik said she wants local government officials to determined how the money should be spent.
“Over-taxing and pandemic relief money are major contributors to the surplus,” Sapik said. “We should hesitate to spend frivolously, and it should be up to our locally elected representatives to decide where that money is disbursed rather than the governor in Madison. If it’s entirely up to our governor where federal money is disbursed, it poses a real danger for our rural communities to get passed over.”
Many rural communities in Northwestern Wisconsin need better broadband, and the lacking resource put education at a standstill during the pandemic.
“If the money is disbursed on local representation, we have a fighting chance to get more money to Burnett, Washburn and Douglas counties,” she said.
Wisconsin’s abortion law
Both candidates for the 73rd District acknowledge they are pro-life, but both candidates agree that Wisconsin’s 1849 abortion law, which allows abortion only when the mother’s life is in danger, may need to change.
“I do not believe in abortions for convenience,” Sapik said.
It’s going to take time, but she said the law does need to change “to open the freedom and ability for doctors to give the best care to their patients — mother and child.”
Luostari describes himself as pro-life with exceptions.
“I have seen the devastating effects on the innocent victims of crimes such as rape and incest, crimes that leave lasting scars,” Luostari said. “I believe in lesser government, and I would like to see the law reflect that when it comes to the matter of health and crime.”
Each of the candidates shared how they will represent the people of the 73rd District in Madison.
“I’ve found in my time campaigning that a lot of people don’t know what the Wisconsin Assembly does,” Sapik said. “As everyday citizens, we are in the dark … I plan on publishing a monthly letter explaining what we have accomplished in that time and what’s to come. We need input from our community members, but we can’t get that if we lack communication. Once someone is elected to Assembly, they vanish until the next campaign season. We need someone who is open, communicates with the 73rd District citizens, and brings what’s happening at the State Capitol back to Northwestern Wisconsin. It’s time to turn on the lights.”
Luostari said the goal of his campaign is to make the 73rd District a place where generations of families can succeed.
“I want people to know that I will listen to their concerns and take them to Madison,” Luostari said. “As a lifelong resident of the 73rd District, I have a good understanding of the issues that are important to us, but our district is an ever-changing challenge. I want to be sure that our kids can grow up here, go to school here, and find good jobs, and raise their family here. This is a very unique area, not just in Wisconsin but in the United States, and I want to be sure that, if they chose to, our young people can stay here, live here and excel in whatever profession they chose.”
Address: 3729 S. Pine Central Road, Poplar
Family: Wife, Vicki; son, Scott; four grandchildren
Business/employment: Carpenters Local 361
Education: Graduated from Northwestern High School and Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, now Northwood Technical College.
Government and/or civic experience and organizations: Head of the Lakes Fair Board; Douglas County 4-H Board of Directors; Town of Lakeside Board supervisor and chairman; Douglas County Board of Supervisors and its land and development, transportation and infrastructure, and zoning committees; Tri-County Corridor board.
Why did you decide to run for state Assembly? “I’ve thought about it for many years. When Nick Milroy decided to retire, I thought it was my opportunity to serve our community and make our district better for my grandchildren.”
Address: 11683 E. Point Road, Lake Nebagamon
Family: Husband Nathan; children, Calvin, 5 and Reba, 4.
Business/employment: Produce sales at Vee's Marketing, Inc., in Superior
Education: Human services degree
Government and/or civic experience and organizations: 10-year Elks Lodge member
Why did you decide to run for state Assembly? “Keith Kern had decided not to run, and the Republican Party was looking for a strong voice to represent the party. I had a meeting with the Republican Assembly Campaign Committee and they had it narrowed down to two candidates. I knew with Nick Milroy vacating his seat, there was no time to wait so I took it upon myself to register.
“I have been politically cognizant my entire life, but never opted to be politically active until COVID-19. Ever since COVID started, our personal liberties have been at risk. Our freedom of speech, right to bear arms, ability to keep our businesses open, and our personal medical freedom is at stake. Government has stepped into our homes with no invitation. It’s a dangerous and slippery slope to give government too much power, and I am strong enough to stand up for what’s right.
“There are a lot of issues in this region that need attention, from inflation to the fentanyl epidemic, and we need someone who will be an active player in writing and supporting legislation pertinent to Northwestern Wisconsin.”