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Wisconsin Assembly incumbent challenged

November 2, 2006

On Tuesday River Falls voters will choose their representative for State Assembly between two UW-River Falls alumni with a 33-year age gap and ideological differences typical of today’s politicians.

Those candidates are incumbent Republican Kitty Rhoades, 55, and 22-year-old Democrat Dan Gorman.

Rhoades’ message to voters is simple.

“I have a proven track record of identifying the issue and getting things done,” she said.

But Gorman disagrees with her history.

“It seems I have a different view of the direction Wisconsin should be headed,” he said.

“When Kitty Rhoades voted 97 percent of the time with republican leadership, you wonder where her decision-making process comes from.”

Rhoades said she has raised bipartisan support on a number of issues.

“When I talked with some of my counterparts they are really amazed,” she said of the support.

Yet Gorman said he believes those words should be taken with a grain of salt.

“When the Assembly and Senate are both controlled by one party, then we have to question the definition of bipartisan,” he said.

Increasing tuition is a major issue for UWRF students, and both candidates are aware of that.

“We need to create more grants,” Gorman said. “This high debt load is really starting to hurt the population at large.”

Rhoades has a different strategy to combat the problem.

“I think it’s critically important that increases in financial aid keep pace with increases in tuition,” she said. “There needs to be a justifiable formula to equalize the division of funds to Wisconsin campuses.”

Gorman said Rhoades’ agenda could end programs that are vital for many UWRF students.

“She supports programs like the Taxpayer Protection Amendment that will likely end reciprocity,” he said.  “It might not be an action item, but I would not be surprised if it came up again.”

That charge is outrageous, Rhoades said, adding that she worked with members of the Minnesota Department of Revenue to save reciprocity in the past.

The candidates also have different ideas for building Wisconsin’s economy.

“We need to provide the infrastructure to keep good jobs here,” Rhoades said.

Gorman has a four-point plan for a better Wisconsin.

The first point is a progressive economic development plan.

“We should use our government’s money to invest in health care, education and infrastructure,” he said.  “A healthy, educated population improves the lives of the average citizen.”

The other points of Gorman’s plan are: encouraging free, fair and informed elections; protecting the environment by demanding responsibility; and government ethics reform.

Rhoades has been entrenched as the District 30 representative since she first took office in 1998, serving four two-year terms.

Gorman said he decided to run because he is concerned with the direction the state is headed.

“[Being young] helps running on reform because a fresh face is a new face,” Gorman said. “It’s about time we get a more diverse group of candidates running.”