Two polar opposites will be front and center on Thursday night when Democrat Joni Anderson and Republican Joan Ballweg participate in a candidate forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters of the Ripon Area. Both are seeking the seat in the Wisconsin Senate vacated by longtime Republican Luther Olsen.
Voters will be able to watch the forum on the Ripon public access channel (Spectrum 986 and 987), and the next day on the city”s YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/riponchannel19. There will be no public in-person audience for the forum due to the pandemic.
Anderson, from Adams, is seeking her first public office. Ballweg, however, is a long-term member of the Wisconsin State Assembly.
A proud longtime union member, Anderson recently retired after 26 years at an auto parts manufacturer in Necedah. She is a charter member of UE Local 1106 where she served as its president, vice president, and shop stewart. The United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, is an independent democratic rank-and-file labor union representing workers in both the private and public sectors across the United States. It has 35,000 members.
Ballweg has supported Republican-led attempts to crush the state’s unions (and thus their support for Democrats at election time). Anderson is unabashedly pro-union.
Anderson is also a strong advocate for Fair Maps, something Ballweg has repeatedly refused to support. In fact, Ballweg and her Republican colleagues in the legislature, never publicly questioned the behind-closed doors process former Governor Scott Walker and the Republican–controlled legislature used to draw up the state’s severely gerrymandered voting districts.
Those districts, created to ensure Republican dominance, are one of the reasons Democrats in 2018 gained more votes for Dems running for Assembly seats than did the Republicans, 1,306,878 to 1,103,505. Despite losing the total popular vote, Republicans–thanks to the gerrymandered voting districts–keep 66 of the 99 seats in the Assembly.
If you want to know more about where Anderson and Ballweg stand on the issues, watch the forum live (there will be no public audience thanks to the pandemic).
Also note that the League doesn’t conduct debates. This is a forum where each candidate is given an opportunity to respond to the same questions.
Zimdars participating in forum on Sept. 17
Next week, on Sept. 17, also a Thursday, the League is hosting a forum featuring two of the three candidates running for the 41st State Assembly: Democrat Nate Zimdars (Ripon) and independent Jean Bratz (Wisconsin Dells).
It is not clear if Alex Dallman, the Republican seeking to replace Ballweg, is participating. Dallman, like all the candidates, was sent a certified invitation to the Sept. 17 forum, but did not respond by the deadline set by the League. It is also worth noting that he did not participate in the LWV forum for the Republicans running in the Aug. 11 partisan primary, which he won handily.
UPDATE: AN EMAIL FROM THE LEAGUE ON SEPT. 9, DALLMAN HAS AGREED TO PARTICIPATE IN THE CANDIDATE FORUM SET FOR AUG. 17
Dallman formerly worked for 6th Congressional District Republican Rep. Glenn Grothman. Grothman has regularly declined to participate in League forums, saying that the League, which is a registered nonpartisan voter information nonprofit, is not sufficiently nonpartisan. Historically, the nonprofit, nonpartisan LWV has been one of the country’s leading voter education organizations.
Grothman was also sent a certified invite to participate in a forum on Sept. 24 with his November challenger, Democrat Jessica King. When asked if he planned to participate in the forum, Grothman, in Ripon, on Friday evening, gave a noncommittal answer, saying that he expected to participate in some sort of forum with King but he was not sure when or where. He did not directly address his availability for the Sept. 24 LWV candidate forum.
Per LWV policy, if Grothman does not participate there will be no candidate forum with King.