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Duffy vs. Westlund: Where they stand and what they’ve learned

Voters in Wisconsin’s Seventh Congressional District will choose Nov. 4 between Sean Duffy, the Republican who has represented the district for one term and Kelly Westlund, a Democrat, businesswoman and former Ashland City Council member.

Here are the candidates’ responses to two questions:

What are the most important issues in your race, and how do you plan to address them?

Duffy: Jobs and the economy remain the number one issue on the minds of the 7th District’s hardworking middle class families. Northern Wisconsin is a great place to live, and we need to ensure that there are opportunities for good paying jobs that will keep Wisconsin families here.

I have seven children and want them to have the same opportunity that I did, to raise their families in Wisconsin, not in some other state. We need to create an environment that encourages growth by reducing overbearing regulations and tax burdens on our community’s small businesses.

Westlund: As I’ve listened to voters in every corner of the 7th Congressional District, I often heard the same concerns. Working people and middle class families are struggling to get by, but our elected officials are more focused on the needs of their campaign contributors. When I ask people what they’d like to see Congress working on, the most common answer is, “I’d like to see Congress working at all.”

In Congress, I’ll work on policies that help expand the middle class and ensure that no person who works 40 hours a week should live in poverty, that no person should suffer because they can’t afford medical treatment, that every person who’s willing to work has the opportunity to build a secure economic future.

I will work to limit the influence of big money in our political process and make elected officials more accountable to their constituents. I’ll find common ground on issues that matter and build the coalitions that will move our country forward.

How is your experience in the public and private sectors a plus for the job?

Duffy: Both in Congress, and in my prior experiences as a DA, I learned the importance of getting to know people. Often you are faced with people with whom you don’t appear to have much in common on the outset, but when you take the time to have a conversation, you often find that your agreements outnumber your disagreements. That is when you truly learn how to work together.

Neither side may get everything they want, but when you agree on the importance of the larger goal, it makes it easier to put aside smaller differences and actually get something done. I attribute that lesson to my successes prosecuting child sex crimes as well as my ability to get legislation passed in the House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support.

Westlund: My time managing a nonprofit organization and running my own business gave me opportunities to prove myself as a leader while helping rural communities to be more self-reliant. I organized diverse coalitions to address and resolve shared challenges and managed the nuts and bolts required to be successful. I also learned about the tremendous potential opportunities for economic development in northern Wisconsin.

As an elected official, I learned about governance and accountability and saw firsthand how decisions made in Washington and Madison affect rural Wisconsinites. I gained a solid understanding of the impacts my decisions as an elected official have on others and experience in responsible fiscal management that kept costs down and needs met.

The gridlock in Congress is largely the result of partisan bickering, and it doesn’t serve the people of this country. I have a proven track record as a thoughtful leader and coalition builder with an honest interest in addressing the needs of people. Good ideas can come from anywhere, and I will put my country before my party to find the common ground that will expand and protect the middle class.

Judy Wiff

Judy Wiff has been regional editor for RiverTown’s Wisconsin newspapers since 1996. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and sociology from UW-River Falls. She has worked as a reporter for several weekly newspapers in Wisconsin.

(715) 426-1049
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