Updated 9:45 a.m. Aug. 13
Should State Representative Peggy Krusick (D-Milwaukee) retain her 7th District Assembly seat, she’ll keep roughly only one-third of the constituents she has spent the last decade serving.
And while the faces have changed, Krusick’s approach has not.
“I’ve always said what’s good for my Assembly district is good for the whole state,” said Krusick, who is being challenged by 25-year-old newcomer Daniel Riemer (D-Milwaukee) in Tuesday’s primary election.
“It’s bittersweet because the lines were redrawn, removing sections that were almost across the street from my home, areas I represented since 1983,” Krusick added. “I tell people though, I’ll always represent them in heart, even though they’re no longer in my district.”
After the state’s , the 7th District now includes an eastern portion of West Allis and West Milwaukee, as well as holdover sections of Milwaukee and Greenfield. Some of the “new” areas are those Krusick represented before maps were redrawn a decade ago.
Krusick, 55, hopes that familiarity pays off.
“People have been very hospitable and are grateful for my independent legislative track record,” she said. “I always vote the majority of the district, and I like to work in a bipartisan way and be sure taxpayer dollars are well spent.”
This marks the third straight election cycle Krusick has faced primary opposition, a direct result her occasional crossing of party lines, she said. She voted with Republicans for welfare reform and for voter identification requirements, and that eliminated preferential treatment for minority college students.
“I was elected to represent the majority of my district. I do not always vote party line,” Krusick said. “My philosophy has always been to vote the majority of my district.”
Newcomer hopes voters want change
Riemer, 25, said his decision to run against Krusick has nothing to do with her voting history. Instead, it’s about bringing change to Madison.
“I never ran with the idea of unseating anybody,” Riemer said. “It’s not about what I disagree with or taking on anyone in particular. … I came into this with the idea that we need to bring new ideas to the table. This is maybe where I differ the most from Rep. Krusick, that we need to get back to what we did 15, 20 years ago where Republicans and Democrats as myself had a willingness to work together to solve problems.”
When asked if his age and relative inexperience could hurt or hinder him against a career politician like Krusick, Riemer said, “We’ll find out Tuesday.”
He said one voter flat-out told him he wouldn’t vote for Riemer because of his age, but others view his youth as an asset. He pointed to former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist (26), state Sen. Tim Carpenter (24) and Krusick (29) herself as area lawmakers who launched their careers while in their 20s.
“Whether our leaders are 18 or 80, we want mature leaders and maturity doesn’t always have an age,” Riemer said. “Right now, leaders in Madison aren’t acting with a lot of maturity.”
“I hope (age) is not a detriment and that people see when times need to change, new personalities and new energy is an asset," he added.
Riemer said the economy and the joblessness rates are among the biggest concerns of the thousands of would-be constituents he has spoken with while campaigning door to door in recent weeks.
“The (job) opportunities that existed in decades past have shriveled,” Riemer said. “There are less businesses that are open. That’s one concern that people in the area, the country, maybe the whole world have when times are tough.
“There’s a feeling that we’re climbing out of the hole slowly, but we have to get out of the dark sooner. That’s why they call it a depression. Because it can be depressing to continue to see joblessness and wages not getting better.”
Constituents have concerns
Krusick said business owners have told her they want students who are ready to work and whose skills match their immediate needs. She said helping businesses, especially mom and pop-type establishments, become and remain successful is important to her.
She added property taxes remain a concern in the district and that it’s important to the middle class sees continued property tax relief rather than tax credits going to large corporations.
Riemer said constituents he’s talked to are concerned with how hard the school districts in the 7th District were hit by recent cuts in state aid, cuts he called disproportional between the haves and have-nots.
“People have real concerns, from those young and old, those who have families to those who are retired and sometimes living alone,” Riemer. “They are concerned that the state is not heading in the right direction.”
Editor's note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated there was no Republic candidate. Registered write-in candidate Tiffany Koehler is hoping to be added to the ballot in November.
Patch asked each candidate to complete a biographical questionnaire for voters.
Peggy Krusick (D) - Did not respond
Daniel Riemer (D) - Did not respond