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In every partisan election there are always sacrificial lambs -- candidates on the ballot that really stand no chance of winning against the entrenched incumbent.
But don't tell the opposition candidates that. In Milwaukee, that label fits when a Republican runs for state office, especially for the Assembly.
Krista Burns is one of those, facing Jon Richards for the most-liberal East Side and Bay View seat on Tuesday. Burns is fronting for the GOP in a rare contested ballot in this district. She echoes the party line for this election, calling for lower taxes, lower spending and a better business climate.
The 20-year marketing professional also touts herself as a "participant" in the Tea Party.
Further south down the road, GOP candidate Molly McGartland is running against Christine Sinicki, in what is a bit more conservative district than Richards'. But, even though St. Francis resident McGartland won a spirited primary, it's all uphill against Sinicki, who has held the seat for 12 years.
McGartland says she's running because "the creeping incrementalism of the liberal's agenda has reaching a tipping point, and we as a nation need to decide if we are going to be a nation of makers or takers. ... The America where I grew up, our freedoms, our identity, our culture and our faith are on the line."
She follows the party line on lower corporate and income taxes and to increase the tax credit for businesses to have their employees go to college. She adds zero-based budgeting to the mix as well and opposes any high-speed trains.
Still on the county's east side, County Supervisor Chris Larson won his toughest contest in the Democratic state Senate primary against entrenched incumbent Jeff Plale, so Larson should coast to Madison after dispensing GOP opposition Jess Ripp. Ripp was seen working his booth at the Bay View Bash last month, but Larson's turf at the Bash was clearly a more bustling affair.
Ripp is opposed to the state's recently-enacted Green Energy Act and in one proposed tax cut, wants to cancel income taxes on tips. He also includes that he supports the Second Amendment right to have guns and wants to expand the 794 Lake Parkway south to Racine.
Dan Sebring is the rare GOP contestant against Dem Gwen Moore for U.S. Congress. He says he was encouraged to run by County Exec Scott Walker's father. He is a 53-year-old Navy Veteran who served in the Pentagon on the Chief of Naval Operations Intelligence staff during the 1980s, has also been a volunteer firefighter and a small business owner in Milwaukee since 1994.
Sebring actually has a more Democratic idea than Moore: requiring all businesses that get tax help from the feds to hire only people who live in the district. But then, reverting to the party line, he says he would vote to repeal the so-called "ObamaCare."
But let's not forget "not the white man's bitch," aka independent candidate Ieshuh Griffin. She's running against Elizabeth Coggs for State Assembly on the North Side. Her name's on the ballot and she did get some national press for her failed attempt to put the white man's bitch description next to her name on the ballot. But that's about all the noise from that campaign.
In the suburbs, the Dems have a few lambs of their own, but the party seems to have dropped the idea of getting a candidate to spend some $20,000-plus of their own money run for every seat.
For instance, Dick Pas, who is running in western Waukesha County against GOP Assembly incumbent Joel Kleefisch (whose wife Rebecca is on the ballot for the lieutenant governor's job), isn't spending a lot of money falling on the sword for his party, not even bothering to pay for a Web site.
Drinking up an issue: Like the state attorney general's race four years ago, drinking is the issue on the table that seems to grab a dram of a headline. GOP incumbent JB Van Hollen's most distinguishing issue in his 2006 race was his opposition to random sobriety checkpoints on state roads. His opponent then, Dane County Exec Kathleen Falk, wanted them.
Van Hollen's opponent this time, former DNR Secretary Scott Hassett, is opposed to checkpoints, but wants to stiffen state drinking and driving laws. He wants to make first-time drunk driving convictions a misdemeanor, meaning that everyone busted will have to check "yes" in the "have you been convicted of a crime?" box on the employment application. We're the only state not to make first-timers criminals. Van Hollen says it would cost the state millions in court costs from people fighting the charge to more bucks for incarceration as well.
Hassett also wants third time OWI offenders to be charged as felons. State law just changed to make the fourth conviction a felony, from five tickets last year. Van Hollen says the state should wait and see how that change works out first.
It kind of makes Van Hollen look soft on boozy driving, but it should sell well in the land of brandy.
Transparent cloudiness: The Milwaukee County Board is getting its campaign finance house into the 21st century, allowing supervisors and candidates to put their campaign finance reports online. But compliance by elected county officials so far is more dismal than among their counterparts with the city. As of this week, only Sheriff David Clarke and his two opponents in this fall's election took advantage of the transparent move, as did Clerk of Courts John Barrett, who reports a grand total of $1,682.35 in his war chest. The rest of the board has yet to get in the game. At the city, only Ald. Robert Bauman and City Attorney Grant Langley have proffered their current finance reports.
Park and ride: There will be some new parking changes on the streets of old Milwaukee next year, but Downtown parkers will still have to deal with the notoriously faulty LUKE parking meters. The meters have been causing fits for the city since they first came online -- from parkers not being able to see the screens, jammed coin slots in winter and a lack of receipts given at the payment kiosk.
City of Milwaukee Department of Public Works official Shirley Krug says don't expect the issues to change.
"There are limitations to any technology," Krug told the Common Council's Finance Committee during a budget hearing. "Unfortunately many people don't realize they don't need a receipt." She added, though, that people not getting a receipt isn't a product of the machine running out of paper, calling that "unusual," so it's a fault DPW seems to be able to live with. As for the rest of us ...
DPW Director Jeff Manthes says new machines will be placed near the Discovery World Museum that allow parkers to pay with a card right at the meter they are parked at, instead of the current method of having to find a kiosk somewhere on the block.
DPW is also working on buying a new three-wheeled parking checker vehicle after Chrysler informed the city that it will no longer make two-door Jeeps with the driver's side on the right side of the vehicle. They are still making a four-door version, but Manthes said that was too much Jeep for the checkers. Krug said the jury is still out on three-wheelers, because they have issues in winter conditions. She said the city can't afford a three-season checking vehicle so they will test the new ride some more.
There will also be a budget amendment in the coming weeks to raise the night parking permit fee from $55 to $60, but Krug cautioned the committee that the city "doesn't want to create a hardship" for people who need or want to park on city streets.
One revenue scheme not in this year's budget is selling off city parking structures. Manthes said only the most lucrative structures would be bought anyway, such as the one at 1000 N. Water St., and the city would then have to replace that revenue, as well. In the case of the North Water Street building, that income is about a $1 million a year.
An avid outdoors person he regularly takes extended paddling trips in the wilderness, preferring the hinterlands of northern Canada and Alaska. After a bet with a bunch of sailors, he paddled across Lake Michigan in a canoe.
He lives in Bay View.