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Editor’s note: This is the second part of our preview on the 50th Assembly District. This article focuses on challenger Art Shrader. Part 1, which featured incumbent Ed Brooks, ran Nov. 2. Both stories are available online at www.reedsburgtimespress.com.

A Reedsburg man who’s running for office says he will push for cooperation between parties if he’s elected.

Art Shrader, D-Reedsburg, will face incumbent Ed Brooks, R-Reedsburg, in the Fall Election on Nov. 8.

Major issues

Since he started his campaign Shrader said he has been concerned about education, economic development and infrastructure. He said those issues are all important but another one has appeared during his time on the campaign trail. He said polarization has had a negative effect on the district. He said constituents have told him they don’t feel represented in government and are sick of leaders who won’t work together.

If elected Shrader said he will listen to everyone regardless of political affiliation.

“I’m absolutely willing to work with Democrats, Republicans, Independents, whoever,” he said.

Economic development

Partnerships between education, the State and lenders are the key to bolstering economic development in rural Wisconsin, Shrader said. He would like to see the State collaborate with banks and credit unions to assure loans for new businesses. As part of that program borrowers would have access to training through an entity such as the UW-Extension. As a lender Shrader said he has met many people who want to start a business but are afraid to because they lack the knowledge of accounting, management and record keeping. Bringing money and training together would help ensure successful enterprises.

Taxes

Wisconsin needs an equitable tax system. At the moment the wealthy pay too little in taxes thanks to loopholes while the middle class pays too much, Shrader said. Every dollar spent on taxes is one less available for necessities. He said products such as a loaf of bread or gallon of milk cost the same for everyone but the middle class and poor feel the expense much more than the rich.

He also spoke to attack ads lambasting him for wanting to raise the gas tax. Shrader said he doesn’t like the idea of raising the gas tax but thinks representatives should still have that discussion. The state doesn’t have enough money to pay for road projects so it needs to find ways to pay the bills. That may include raising registration fees, increasing the gas tax or trying something else. All ideas should be on the table, he said.

Wage gap

Shrader said he’s disappointed with Brooks’ comments during an Oct. 25 forum in Mauston where Brooks shared his thoughts on the wage gap. Shrader said his opponent talked about laws protecting equal pay for equal work but Shrader thinks that’s not good enough. He said he has seen statistics and studies showing gaps between male and female earnings and thinks it’s time to address the regulations because they are not working.

Education costs

School districts across the state could see a record number of referendums in the next three years. Shrader said the upside is the public usually “gets it right.” He said many referendums pass because the public understands the importance of good schools. Not only do districts ensure educated youth but they also help fuel and maintain economic development.

Shrader said he’s upset that leaders have continued cutting school funding. He said he doesn’t understand how politicians can approve tax breaks for the wealthy while limiting money to education.

He said he has talked to superintendents and educators across the 50th Assembly District and all have said the same thing: There’s nothing left to trim.

“You can’t keep expecting people to do more with less,” Shrader said.

Shrader does not support school vouchers and says they only distract from the real issues. Vouchers were initially touted as a solution for students in failing Milwaukee schools and the idea eventually spread statewide. But vouchers don’t solve the problem of troubled schools. They only pull students — and money — out of public schools and distribute them to private schools.

Shrader said if parents are not happy with their child’s education they can move them to a different public school without having to turn to private institutions and vouchers.

Citizens United

Move to Amend will be on the ballot in Reedsburg and Shrader believes it will pass. The measure demands that Citizens United be overturned, that campaign spending does not equal free speech for corporations and groups.

Shrader said he wants to see an end to Citizens United because it has paved the way for excessive spending by dark money groups.

He added that he has spoken to residents who feel elections are now nothing more than an auction. As both an American citizen and a veteran Shrader is disgusted. He said he didn’t enter the service so the country could be bought and sold.

He noted that he feels obligated to serve because he considers himself a patriot. The U.S. may not be perfect but it has afforded his family many opportunities. When there’s a problem it’s time to stop watching and start fixing. Shrader said he decided to run for office because he’s tired of just watching.

Differences

When asked about his opponent Shrader said he considers Brooks to be “a good man” and a fellow neighbor in Reedsburg. However, he believes Brooks is tired. Shrader said there are times when a leader needs to sit quietly and there are times when a leader needs to fight. Shrader believes Brooks would rather sit than fight.

Shrader has been endorsed by President Barack Obama, Senate candidate Russ Feingold, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Congressmen Ron Kind and Mark Pocan, Reps. Dave Considine and Steve Doyle, Wisconsin State Journal, AFL-CIO, AFSCME, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, United Automobile Workers, National Association of Social Workers-Wisconsin Chapter, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin, Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, Wisconsin Progress, Sierra Club, WEAC and Wisconsin Teamsters Joint Council 39, according to his website, www.shraderforwisconsin.com.

The 50th Assembly District includes Juneau County and sections of Sauk, Monroe and Richland counties.

Editor's note: This article has been changed from its original version on Nov. 7 to reflect that the Wisconsin Restaurant Association has endorsed Republican Ed Brooks in the general election for the 50th Assembly District. The organization endorsed Art Shrader during his primary campaign against Democrat Tom Crofton.

Follow Heather Stanek on Twitter @HStanek1.

I am the reporter and photographer for the Reedsburg Times-Press. I also shoot, edit and post videos for stories.