In one corner, you have the Republican incumbent, a nine-year veteran of the Wisconsin Legislature who won his last re-election bid with 69 percent of the vote.
In the other, you have the Democratic challenger, a man in his first run for public office who spent years covering local politics as a journalist.
State Rep. Mark Honadel and challenger Bill Kurtz will square off Tuesday in the 21st District Assembly race. The district includes Oak Creek, South Milwaukee and a small part of Franklin.
In interviews with Oak Creek Patch, Honadel touted his record of working with both parties to pass meaningful legislation, while Kurtz criticized the incumbent's support of Gov. Scott Walker's agenda.
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The 56-year-old Honadel, a welder and businessman, is seeking his fifth full term in office after winning a special election to the seat in 2003.
He noted his Wisconsin Wins program as an example of legislation that got unanimous support from both parties. The program allows unemployed people to get on-the-job training with the possibility of full-time employment afterward.
It also speaks to his overall outlook on the role of government in creating jobs.
"Government can't truly create jobs," Honadel said. "But what it can do is make new vehicles to get people retrained and find new work."
Honadel also said he would focus on taxation and regulations in the next Legislative session to make it easier for businesses to grow.
Kurtz, 60, is a former reporter who has also worked for several colleges.
His top priority would be education, he said. A strong investment into education would help attract companies to the state and improve the economy, Kurtz said.
"It's absolutely vital to maintain and strengthen education" funding, whether it be for K-12, technical colleges or the UW System, Kurtz said.
But Act 10, the budget-repair bill that drew massive protests in 2011, is a "one-time financial bailout" and not a long-term solution to school funding problems, Kurtz said. He's also concerned that Walker has been quiet about he will offer in the next budget.
"You can be confident that Honadel is going to support it no matter what it is," he said.
Honadel supports Act 10, saying it stopped the layoffs and downsizing that went on in schools for several years prior to its passage.
Continuing to focus on the economy and jobs will help education, Honadel said, because when the economy is good and people are employed, more tax revenue will come in and more money will be available.
Act 10 isn't the only thing on which the candidates disagree.
Kurtz said he is "very much against" the voter ID bill, which would require people to show identification before voting but is currently tied up in the courts and not in effect for Tuesday's elections.
"It's a solution in search of a problem," he said.
Honadel said the arguments against the bill, namely that it disenfranchises particular groups of voters, is "nonsense."
"Voter ID is what the people want," he said.
Wisconsin state representatives serve two-year terms and earn $49,943.00 annually. They also receive a per diem of $88 per day for each day they work in Madison.
- Republican Mark Honadel (incumbent)
- Democrat Bill Kurtz