Election Preview: Wisconsin 4th State Senate District
Incumbent state Sen. Lena Taylor is being challenged in the 4th State Senate District by independent candidate David King.
Democrat Taylor has in fact run unopposed in the last two general elections, but King, an independent, hopes to serve as that true challenge on Tuesday when the two face off in a race for the 4th State Senate District.
Taylor, 46 of Milwaukee, was first elected to the state Assembly in 2003, and the 4th Senate District in 2005. She ran for Milwaukee County executive in 2008 and lost to now Gov. Scott Walker. She was recently appointed as co-chair of the Legislature's powerful Joint Committee on Finance — the first African-American woman ever to do so.
For Taylor, "No question the No. 1 issue facing the district is education and jobs. And, it's very apparent they are interconnected. They have always been my priority issues, along with corrections reform."
She has previously practiced as a public defender in Milwaukee and later opened her own law firm Taylor and Associates Law Office, a general practice firm on the north side of the city.
On the other hand, King, 50 of Milwaukee, has ran for public office twice previously, both as a Republican and Democrat. He made headlines in 2003 during a campaign for the Secretary of State's office, when a woman filed a civil suit alleging he got her drunk and sexually assaulted her, resulting in a pregnancy.
The Milwaukee native and pastor has been a very active presence in the community, finding organizations like SWEEP. (Soldiers, Walking, Evangelizing, and Empowering, People) Community Justice Center, which in the first year of operation placed more than 200 individuals in employment and secured housing for over 100 individuals and a prison ministry.
"When you look at the district, we have one of the most troubling areas in the district; you have crime, high unemployment," King said.
"The governor said he wants to create jobs, so what can we do to bring some of those jobs to Milwaukee."
Jobs and education
Taylor said in a city where schools continue to fail children, and employment opportunities are sparse, it creates a sort of pipeline to prison.
"Our citizens are ready to be employees, but sometimes the jobs and skills to match," she said. "We need quality education and accountability and we need to readdress what we are spending our money on and be a voice for the taxpayer."
To that note, she added she has been an advocate for corrections reform and reducing the recidivism in the area. She said she has been working hard to find solutions to problems facing the district.
"In one session I either was the champion or co-sponsored nearly half of the legislation in the Legislature," she said.
She added she fights for the people of Milwaukee and sometimes takes some hits because of it.
King said he remembers Walker's campaign slogan, "Wisconsin is Open for Business," but it doesn't look that way in Milwaukee. He said the issues call for real solutions — creative ones.
"We need to ask questions like is it because of regulation or taxes," he asked. "Then I will work with legislators. I know many people within the Workforce Development offices and I will look at what we can do to address those issues and also work with supervisors and aldermen. What can we do to make Milwaukee better? The governor said he wants to create jobs, so what can we do to bring some of those jobs to Milwaukee."
King says he has worked with companies in the past to get prospective employees connected with companies, and then providing transportation so new hires can get to work. He currently is working with the Wisconsin Seasonal Workforce Coalition making it easier for people to find jobs.
"My agenda is the people of Milwaukee," King said. "I just helped 300 people get a job — mothers and fathers, male and female, and they all feel good about themselves and have pride in themselves."
Candidates trade barbs
King said Taylor had eight years to address the issues of the district, and now it's time to put it back in the hands of the people.
"One of the things that concerns me is there's never any town hall meetings in the district," he said. "I think it's time for the people to be more informed. I'll hold town hall meetings before the vote, not after when it's too late. They will finally have true representation."
Taylor said King is obviously confused. She said King has taken shots at her saying she hasn't gotten anything done, but she said he clearly hasn't looked at her record or the way she has worked with both Democrats and Republicans.
"It’s for the purposes of misleading the voter," she said of King's barb.
"The district has a large portion of women. He does not support equality for women, and frankly those of color and minorities in the district, " she continued. "I'm someone that will fight for them and stands for change."
A newly-drawn district
The 4th District has new boundaries this year in the wake of redistricting prompted by population shifts in the 2010 census. The district includes all of Shorewood, portions of Glendale and Milwaukee, and a small section of northeast Wauwatosa.
Wisconsin state senators serve four-year terms and earn $49,943.00 annually. The also receive a per diem of $88 per day for each day they work in Madison.