RACINE — Several candidates in two of this fall’s statewide races took a local grassroots group up on its offer to share their views at the first of two forums this month.
The Racine Political Education Coalition on Saturday held a forum for the state treasurer and secretary posts that are up for grabs in November. A small crowd attended the event, held at the Dr. John Bryant Community Center.
Six candidates are running for the state treasurer position, three as Democrats, two as Republicans and one on the Constitution ticket.
Democrat candidates Cynthia Kaump and Dawn Marie Sass attended Saturday’s forum. Sarah Godlewski, the other Democrat in next month’s primary, reportedly was unable to attend. Sarah Smith, a staffer in Godlewski’s campaign, attended on her behalf, but only was able to read a prepared opening and closing statement.
Neither of the two Republican candidates — Travis Hartwig and Jill Millies — attended, nor did Constitution candidate Andrew Zuelke.
At the forum, Kaump touted her professional background, which includes a stint as director of communications and community outreach in the state treasurer’s office. Her resume also includes work as a TV journalist.
When asked for her views on the attempt in April to abolish the state treasurer’s post by way of an unsuccessful referendum question, Kaump said she felt the effort was an attempt at trying to concentrate power in Madison.
“Several administrations have taken aim at this office,” Kaump said. “They want the power. The power belongs to (voters).”
Sass previously served as state treasurer from 2007-2011, unseating Republican Jack Voight. She described her defeat in pursuit of a second term as “very hard.”
“I’m asking you to re-elect me to a job I love and am passionate about,” Sass said. “We need the passion I have to bring this office back to where it should be.”
During the forum, Sass shared her views on several programs, including the handling of unclaimed property, which she said she would like returned to the treasurer’s office. The Department of Revenue currently handles the function.
Smith, speaking on Godlewski’s behalf, said the candidate stands out because of her progressive views and desire to serve as “a fiscal watchdog” within the position. Smith said Godlewski also desires to work with the state’s most vulnerable populations.
“There’s so much potential in this office,” Smith said. “(Godlewski) has the background necessary to do this job well.”
Four candidates — including incumbent Doug La Follette — are running this fall for the secretary of state post.
Democrat Arvina Martin and Republican Spencer Zimmerman attended the forum, while La Follette, a Democrat, and Jay Schroeder, a Republican, did not appear.
Martin said she was seeking office because she aspires to have a role in such functions as civic engagement and voter participation.
“I care deeply about the experiences of people in Wisconsin,” Martin said. “I think being able to listen is a skill that, unfortunately, not enough people in public office have. I am willing to listen.”
Zimmerman, who brands himself in campaign materials as a “Trump conservative,” said he supports such issues as term limits. He has run for other races in the past.
“I continue to want to serve,” Zimmerman said. “I don’t give up, and I continue to fight to bring real progress and real reform. The taxpayers should be getting a lot more out of this office.”
The primary is Aug. 14, and the general election is Nov. 6.
The coalition’s next candidate forum will focus on the U.S. Senate and First Congressional District seats. It will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, July 21 at Mount Pleasant Village Hall.
Editor's note: The time and venue for the July 21 forum has been updated.