WATERFORD — Voters will pick between four candidates competing to fill an open state Assembly seat in the Aug. 9 primary.
Republicans Jordan Karweik, Karen Schuh, Steven Whittow and Chuck Wichgers are battling to replace state Rep. David Craig as the 83rd Assembly District representative. The district includes the village and town of Waterford in Racine County, as well as portions of Milwaukee, Waukesha and Walworth counties.
The winner of Tuesday’s GOP primary is virtually assured of taking the seat, as no Democrat is in the race. Craig, R-Town of Vernon, is vacating the seat to run for the 28th state Senate District and is unopposed in that race. He will be taking the place of retiring state Sen. Mary Lazich, R-New Berlin.
The 29-year-old Karweik was elected to the Waterford Graded School Board last year. He’s campaigned primarily on lowering taxes, saying the state has made strides in the past few years but is still highly-taxed compared to most other states.
Karweik is a Libertarian-minded Republican who says the government should get “out of people’s business.”
The stance at times puts him at odds with other Republicans, he said. On gay marriage, for example, Karweik says the government should not issue marriage licenses altogether nor prohibit same-sex marriage.
“The other candidates, they claim to be liberty-minded, but it seems like with them, the whole liberty thing stops where their beliefs begin,” said Karweik, who owns Karweik Countrywide Insurance in Waterford.
Schuh, 61, has experience in local politics going back to the 1990s, when she served as a Town of Vernon supervisor and then chairman. She was elected in 2013 as Town of Vernon clerk.
In that time, Schuh said she developed experience in areas like reducing government spending and taxes, which she identified as a top priority.
“In any position I’ve run in, I can always find ways to cut taxes and make that position more effective and efficient,” Schuh said, pointing to more than $50,000 she found in savings as clerk.
If elected, Schuh would also work to address the heroin and opioid epidemic, noting “heartbreaking stories” she has heard from constituents.
Whittow has emphasized the Second Amendment. While others talk a good game, “I live it, I breathe it,” Whittow says, noting he has a concealed-carry permit and carries a gun.
Whittow would look at law changes loosening restrictions for people carrying a gun while dropping their kids off at school and believes gun-free zones on college campuses “should go bye-bye,” saying they pose a safety risk.
“I honestly believe this — I trust you to defend your family before anyone else,” said Whittow, 51. “You deserve to maintain those rights.”
Whittow also noted his work on the Waukesha County Board and as a small business owner — he ran a tree service — saying both would translate to the Legislature.
Wichgers, 51, said he is running to represent the values of the district, which he identified as “pro-life, pro-gun, pro-liberty.”
A former Waukesha County supervisor and Muskego alderman, Wichgers also said local control is a big issue, particularly with several lake districts in the 83rd District.
“When big government steps in and puts in restrictions and mandates, that’s not always the wisest way to address expensive concerns,” Wichgers said.
His campaign is encapsulated by the Pledge of Allegiance, he said, saying the “one nation, under God” line is taken seriously by residents and should be reflected on elected officials.
A candidate forum and community meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at the Waterford Town Hall, 415 N. Milwaukee St.
The event, sponsored by a collection of anti-tobacco and anti-drug groups, includes a half-hour educational meeting on the state’s leading health issues, followed by the moderated candidate forum at 7:30 p.m.