The candidates in the 98th State Assembly District have at least one thing in common.
Republican incumbent Paul Farrow and his opponent Democrat Eric Prudent both believe that education is the fundamental engine that drives economic growth in the state.
Farrow said that he would like to create a streamlined process in which students can obtain certification and associate degrees at state technical colleges in order to stem the shortage of skilled workers in the future.
Those students would be able to "get their associates degree without having to worry about being in school five or four nights a week," he said. "It (would) really open up the opportunities in talking with the technical colleges and how they can modify their classes to make these focused programs more effective."
His idea extends to high school, where he said modifications can be done to get students into the workforce more effectively.
"To give the kids the understanding that there is more to life than just the four-year degree," he added.
Prudent promises to increase state funding for public education, noting that about $1.1 billion was cut for schools in the current the state budget.
"When you slash the funding … class sizes go up," he said. "Here in Wisconsin, we're not allowed to attract and keep the best teachers. We are no longer able to get the best resources for our teachers to teach."
Prudent vows to try to find common ground with other lawmakers for his education initiative.
"Everyone wants to have good education because that fuels the future of the state especially when it comes to the economy and creating jobs," he added.
Prudent, 24, of Waukesha, is pursuing a degree in biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has worked on political campaigns and for non-profit organizations, such as Peace Action Wisconsin and The Sierra Club, as well as Bryan Kennedy’s congressional campaign in 2006. He is currently employed to fundraise for several progressive grassroots campaigns, such as Wisconsin Environment.
Prudent said the controversial collective bargaining reform that past last year inspired him to run for office.
"I don't think that we can make a change on that on Day 1, because that has become such a partisan issue," he said. "But, that's definitely something we need to be looking at moving forward…I understand the need for a balanced budget, but there are better ways to do that than on the backs of middle class families."
Prudent also hopes to close corporate state tax loopholes and to fight for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which Governor Scott Walker opposes.
Farrow, 48, of the Village of Pewaukee, is the son of former Lt. Gov. Margaret Farrow. He is also the owner of House to Home Inspections and is a licensed home inspector. He is the past state director of the Youth in Government program for teens through the YMCA of Metro Milwaukee and serves on the Executive Committee of the Waukesha County Republican Party.
Farrow would like to create a more consistent tax and regulatory climate for businesses throughout the state and welcomes another stab at mining legislation, which will ultimately create jobs here in Wisconsin.
"Keep in mind that we are just changing the state's permitting process," he said. "Put that out there gives us a more consistent permitting process and we are looking at thousands of jobs that we are going to create in the next couple of years."
The 98th District seat has new boundaries this year in the wake of redistricting prompted by population shifts in the 2010 census. The district includes Sussex, Pewaukee and portions of Waukesha.
Wisconsin state representatives serve two-year terms and earn $49,943 annually. They also receive a per diem of $88 per day for each day they work in Madison.
- Republican Paul Farrow (incumbent)
- Democrat Eric Prudent