Republican candidates Cherie Link and Rob Stafsholt discussed their plans for the Wisconsin 10th Senate District in a debate on WPR’s "The West Side" ahead of the Aug. 11 primary.
The winner of the primary will face incumbent Democrat Patty Schachtner in the general election.
A small-business owner and Somerset resident, Link said she is running because she understands the district and can come in with fresh eyes.
Stafsholt currently serves as the Assembly District 19 representative. He said he decided to run after seeing the differences in the district between having Sheila Harsdorf, the former Republican senator, and Patty Schachtner as senator for the district.
Link and Stafsholt both advocated for local control when it comes to decisions about the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fall openings of schools should be made by local school districts, rather than having a statewide blanket approach, Stafsholt said.
“We need to keep those decisions local and what makes sense in those communities,” he said.
Link said without school, children are experiencing a mental health crisis, and children in dangerous situations do not have anyone advocating for them.
“I believe it’s crucial that our kids' needs are first,” she said.
Democrat Gov. Tony Evers' statewide Safer at Home shutdown was unjustified, both candidates agreed. Stafsholt said St. Croix County should not have been closed based on numbers in Madison and Milwaukee.
“Our people up here are significantly different than Madison and Milwaukee, and they should be treated differently,” he said.
Link said decisions should be made in an open and transparent arena, and justified by science.
“We can’t have one person that has the ability to shut down our economy,” she said.
Both candidates agreed masks should not be mandated. Link said there are too many people who have medical issues that would be hurt by a mask requirement. Stafsholt said discussions on masks are happening without science showing their effectiveness.
As a small-business owner, Link said she had firsthand connections with many business owners and was heartbroken hearing stories of workers who could not get unemployment checks and had no income during the shutdown. She said they need to consider the impacts of any shutdowns the governor wants.
Stafsholt said they need to work to get the economy open, but find ways to do so in a responsible manner. People have to feel comfortable going to businesses, he said, and seniors and other vulnerable people need to be protected.
The candidates were asked if they supported recent efforts to create a people’s map commission for nonpartisan redistricting, or if they felt the districts were fairly drawn.
Stafsholt said a committee set up by a partisan governor, no matter which party the governor is, is not nonpartisan. The issue has been in politics for a long time, and the one party always thinks there’s gerrymandering when the other is in power.
The 10th District map is likely to change after the 2020 census due to its recent growth regardless, both candidates agreed.
Keeping the maps the same way they are keeps the people in control, Link said.
The full debate can be heard at wpr.org.