SUPERIOR — Voters in Wisconsin’s 73rd Assembly District will have a clean slate to consider when they head to the polls Nov. 8.
For the first time since 2008, an incumbent will not appear on the ballot.
This rare opportunity prompted Democratic candidate Laura Gapske of Upper and Republican candidate Angie Sapik of Lake Nebagamon to enter the race.
Sapik said she was approached by a few different people to run for office, including Republican state senate candidate Romaine Quinn.
“I was heavily debating the race when I heard the seat would be vacant,” Sapik said. “I’ve been discouraged by the excesses of government and irresponsible government spending in recent years, and I thought we needed someone in power who was strong enough to champion responsible spending and smaller government.”
Gapske said it was her honor to be asked to run for the seat by the American Federation of Teachers.
“It was a serious decision, and it took me a long time to make the decision to race,” Gapske said. “Ultimately, I decided that my experience and dedication to serving my community would make me a good candidate. I am a passionate leader who has demonstrated my ability to create community channels, which foster spaces for listening and sharing experiences with other people.
One of the challenges facing voters this year is the rising cost of living. And while both candidates agree that Madison could ease that burden by returning billions in excess state revenue to taxpayers, they differ in their approach.
“I think it’s important to provide context on the inflation issue,” Gapske said. “Unfortunately, inflation is a global problem that affects countries regardless of their leadership and governance. But I don’t believe we are helpless.
Wisconsin ended fiscal year 2022 with a record surplus of $4.3 billion and the state’s Rainy Day Fiscal Stabilization Fund is at an all-time high of $1.73 billion, according to the Department of the Wisconsin administration.
“The vast majority of that money should be returned to taxpayers in the form of tax cuts to help them deal with the effects of Biden’s economy and inflation,” Sapik said. “Families need more money in their pockets to meet rising costs.”
Sapik said she would support state policies that support Wisconsin’s energy independence to reduce gas and energy prices.
“If elected, I will fight for policies that make gas and groceries affordable again,” Sapik said.
Gapske said that as a single mother, she felt the pain of inflation at the gas pump and at the grocery store.
“I think it’s imperative that the Republican-led Legislature stop withholding that taxpayer money from Wisconsin,” Gapske said. “We have families in difficulty who could use this money now. It’s sad to see people across the way playing politics while workers in northern Wisconsin are struggling to put food on the table.
Both candidates agree that the government can have a significant impact on people who are simply trying to pursue their version of the American dream.
“Government overreach, especially since the onslaught of COVID-19, has been unmatched in decades,” Sapik said. “People should be able to go to work without worrying about vaccine needs. We need fewer regulations on the map and we need to make sure people who want to open businesses are able to. »
Gapske said personal freedom is at stake in this election like never before. From efforts to suppress the vote to women who have lost the right to have autonomy over their bodies since the overthrow of Roe V. Wade, Gapske said she will fight for voters.
“The government has no right to come between a patient and their doctor,” Gapske said. “Abortion is a nuanced issue, and every circumstance is different. You cannot and should not legislate on a person’s right to make decisions that are best for them, especially in cases of rape, child abuse and incest.
In 2020, the most fundamental tenant of Republican democracy – voting – has been challenged.
“Win or lose, I will accept the November 8 election results,” Gapske said. After all, election officials and county clerks are dedicated public servants who found themselves in danger after baseless allegations about the 2020 election, she said.
“Our elections have been shown time and time again to be extremely safe and secure, but I believe there is a lot of work to be done to ensure fair representation. Wisconsin is about as purple as they come and yet the Republican Legislature continues to adopt the most gerrymandered legislative maps in the country…Allowing our legislative maps to be drawn by a nonpartisan entity is a necessary step to help to restore confidence in our elections,” Gapske said.
New legislative maps following the 2020 U.S. Census went into effect in April after the conservative majority in the Wisconsin Supreme Court selected a redistricting plan crafted by Republican lawmakers.
“I would absolutely accept the 2022 election results if there was no clear evidence of fraud,” Sapik said. “Our system may not be perfect, but it works, and I believe in a person’s right to vote and the right to have their vote counted.”
In addition, she said measures had been taken to protect the ballot, such as the elimination of unattended ballot boxes.
“I’m in favor of anything that protects the sanctity of our voting system and protects a person’s ballot from being tampered with,” Sapik said.
Talking to people, Sapik said she knows inflation is a major concern.
“While we cannot write legislation to stop inflation itself, we can take steps to reduce the impacts of inflation on us,” Sapik said. “I believe this is the most important thing I can do to serve constituents; it’s my #1 priority.
As an elected official, Gapske said she knows the job involves being an advocate to tackle issues affecting the region.
“It will be my job to listen to voters and work to understand their issues…people are concerned about rising prices, infrastructure and community safety,” Gapske said. “I will draw on my legislative experience to work for the common good and ensure that all voters feel heard.
Family: 2 sons: Landon James, 18; and Mannix James, 12
Company/job: Director of Programs at Men as Peacemakers, Owner at LG Principles Expert Witness and Consulting, LLC
Education: Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin-Graduate, studying part-time at Hamline University for a master’s degree in legal studies.
Experience and governmental and/or civic organizations: Currently Chairman of the Higher Working Group Commission on Human Trafficking; clerk of the upper school district council; Cooperative Educational Service Agency #12, Supervisory Board Member and Delegate; Sex Trafficking Awareness Month Committee; and Multidisciplinary Sexual Assault Response Team (SMART) Committee, PAVSA.
In the past, was a board member of the Center against Sexual and Domestic Abuse; co-chair of the St. Louis County Health and Human Services Mortality Review Team; Children’s Justice Initiative-Subcommittee on Child Sex Trafficking; North Central Windows Program Board Member; domestic violence advocate, Men As Peacemakers, Domestic Abuse Transition Restorative Justice Circle; Inter-Agency Committee on Domestic Violence, DAIP; Steering Committee of the Anti-Sex Trafficking Working Group, PAVSA; and St. Louis County Multidisciplinary Team Member and MDT-First Witness CAC Coordinator.
Why are you the best candidate to serve the 73rd District and what will your priorities be?
“Personally and professionally, I have held many positions that have allowed me to better understand the needs of the position. I have a deep policy and procedural perspective, over 19 years of working with adults, children and families experiencing violence, trauma and/or homelessness. I have extensive experience building coalitions and communities through a multidisciplinary approach to decision-making on public health issues. The skills acquired throughout my career closely mirror the qualifications needed to tackle these important public policy issues in Madison on behalf of the residents of Northwestern Wisconsin.
“Once elected, my priorities will be to improve community safety, including mental health and addictions, support our public schools, and continue to invest in and improve our infrastructure in northern Wisconsin. Additionally, I plan to lease office space in the southern portion to make Burnett and Washburn county voters more accessible.
Address: Lake Nebagamon
Family: Husband Nathan; 5 year old son, Calvin, 4 year old daughter, Reba
Company/job: Onion Product Buyer
Education: Human Services Diploma
Experience and governmental and/or civic organizations: Elks Lodge member for 10 years
Why are you the best candidate to serve the 73rd District and what will your priorities be?
“I’m not a title collector. I’m just a regular citizen of the 73rd District who saw an opportunity to make a difference by jumping into the arena. My career has taught me a lot about supply chain, our sources of food, transportation, and how inflation has affected all of those things. I will bring the expertise of working in agriculture with me to this role, and I think real-world experience is crucial for legislators who craft laws that affect people and businesses every day.”