Incumbent, challenger share focus on tourism
By Kellen Olshefski
Candidates for Wisconsin’s 32nd Assembly District came together Oct. 21 to discuss their plans if elected and answer questions from citizens during the Geneva Lake West Chamber of Commerce’s candidate forum.
Facing off in the 32nd District are Alan Kupsik and incumbent Tyler August, who has represented the area for the past four years.
At the forum, August said the state has come a long way over the past four years, overcoming a $3.6 billion budget deficit during his term, something he said both political parties had contributed to over the past decade or so. Additionally, August said the state was able to put some tax relief measures in to both of the past two budgets while tackling the deficit.
August said a $500 million property tax cut through the technical school levy the state made late last fall due to a budget surplus was a big win for the area as previous property tax reductions would go through the school funding formula and ultimately, the area would end up getting the “short end of the stick.”
“A few of us banded together – Steve Nass and I and others – and said, you know, let’s do this through the tech school levy buy down, make sure everyone who pays taxes in Wisconsin gets their share of that $500 million cut,” he said.
August also said the state has been able to responsibly cut back income taxes and bring unemployment to its lowest level since 2008.
Looking toward the future, August said he doesn’t believe in tax increases.
“We take enough of your money, too much frankly, and we need to work on ways to keep bringing our budget in line,” he said.
August said investment in the state tourism budget has paid off in the past four years, bringing Walworth County to sixth in the state in terms of tourism dollars coming in, and is something he will continue to fight for as neighboring states are investing more into their state tourism.
“At the end of the day, I believe we are in better position today both as the 32nd Assembly District, and the state as a whole, than we were four years ago and it’s my absolute honor and privilege to work for you and I’m asking you to hire me for another two years,” he said.
Kupsik said local issues prompted him to run for the assembly seat – specifically room tax and liquor licensing.
“Those are two things we took to Madison and I felt we’re not represented properly,” he said. “So, I thought that would be my initial idea and my initial goal.”
Kupsik said he has served as a member of the City of Lake Geneva’s Plan Commission, two terms on the City Council, on numerous city boards and committees and as a Walworth County Board supervisor. Kupsik also noted he is a small business owner.
Researching and getting further involved in the current election, Kupsik said one of the things that surprised him more than anything else is that the state has cut 15.3 percent from the education budget since 2008.
“If elected to this position, I’d like to see something done, I’d like to see money come back into education,” he said. “It’s important we educate our young as they grow up and give them opportunities like we had when we were younger.”
Having fallen 5.3 percent below the average in job creation, according to Kupsik, he said it’s up to representatives, such as him if elected, to encourage education and business to create jobs in the area.
“We need to get to our business owners and encourage them to grow, not only their business, but their employment and offer better jobs,” he said.
Finally, Kupsik said, southeast Wisconsin needs to be a destination and continue to grow to encourage the flow of tourism dollars into the area.