As we draw closer to the election, it is becoming clearer what issues will be the deciding factors in which candidates voters will cast their ballot for.
Considering the scope of national issues, it is easy to forget about the local politics and concerns. However, dealing with the issues closer to home is still important. Students are more involved than ever this year at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point.
“The issues I’ll be considering in this year’s elections are women’s health and reproductive issues, as well as gay rights, the gay community and healthcare,” said Elly Keily, a psychology and French major here at UWSP.
State Assembly candidates for the 71st district, Patrick Testin (R) and Katrina Shankland (D), came to UWSP on Oct. 23 for a forum and Q-and-A with students and locals. They touched on health care, state budgets, the school budget, creating jobs and bipartisanship. They both wholeheartedly agreed on the importance of revitalizing the economy.
“Absolutely, number-one issue would be jobs and the economy. Every single person, nationally or countywide, is concerned about the job situation,” Shankland said. “We have lost a lot in Central Wisconsin. We need to focus on not only attracting new jobs but keeping them here.”
“It is jobs and the economy. That is the number-one issue I keep hearing over and over again,” said Testin. “We need to make sure that we are creating a pro-growth environment for job creation. We need to get people back to work so they can start providing for themselves again and start helping out their families.”
Voters who attended the forum agreed that jobs are the top issue right now.
“From my perspective, it is important that people have livable lives and are able to find good jobs, good paying jobs,” said Brady Gregors, a graduate of UWSP. “The energy policy is nice for the federal level, but from a local standpoint, it is all about taking care of people and making sure that they can provide for themselves.”
When Gregors and Keily, who both attended the forum to hear Testin and Shankland speak, were asked which of the candidates’ comments stood out for them the most, they were attracted to different aspects.
“The candidates stand pretty equally in a lot of ways. I think the one definitely has more motivation and experience than the other, and it shows. So I am pretty set on who I will be voting for,” Keily said.
“For me it was a big thing that Pat has lived here, he has worked here, been to school here,” Gregors said. “While Miss Shankland seems to care about the area and like the people, and she wants to work to make things better here, that feeling of somebody who has been here and has actually been around the community for over six years—that feels homegrown to me.”
No matter who is elected, students here at UWSP will be affected, and the student votes are important to the candidates. Both candidates were asked what they would like students to consider in this election, and both had a message to send.
“Our unemployment rate is double the national average,” Testin said. “I think we need someone who has a proven track record, who is willing to work with both sides of the aisle to get the job done and make sure we have new opportunities, especially for our soon-to-be-college graduates. What we are going to need is common-sense solutions and to get Wisconsin working again.”
“I think the first thing that is most important is just to vote, period. We need everyone to vote, turnout among students especially,” Shankland said. “I would suggest you consider the funding of not only UWSP and our school system, but also the funding of Badger Care and health care in general in our state, women’s rights and worker’s rights. Additionally, I think staying educated not only before you vote but after you vote is really important. Student involvement doesn’t end at the polls. It only begins there.”