Alderman Aaron Perry seeking 97th District Assembly seat

Published on: 4/1/2014

In the days after the embattled Rep. Bill Kramer announced he won't seek re-election for his state Assembly seat, there hasn't been a shortage of interested candidates to replace him.

And all of them are City and Town of Waukesha elected officials.

Three officials have said that they are considering the position, while one — Alderman Aaron Perry — has announced his candidacy for the 97th Assembly District seat.

Perry, who has lived in Waukesha since 2009 with his family, was elected alderman in the City of Waukesha in spring 2013. He represents the 12th District on the city's southwest side.

"My decision to enter this race is one I make with great excitement and confidence," Perry said. "I look forward to earning the trust and votes of the residents of the 97th District."

The other three who have expressed interest in the position are Alderwoman Kathleen Cummings, Alderman Adam Jankowski and Town of Waukesha Supervisor Joe Banske.

If a primary becomes necessary, it would take place Aug. 12.

Perry and Cummings are members of the Republican Party of Waukesha County, while Jankowski said he was going to register last week at the party's offices in Waukesha. Banske said he hasn't donated to a specific political party over the years but has always voted Republican.

Perry said he expects a Democrat to run for the position as well. A call to Waukesha County Democratic Party Chairman Dick Pas was not returned. The general election is Nov. 4.

Showing interest

Jankowski, an Army veteran who works as a PC technician at Dickten Masch Plastics in Nashotah, has been an alderman in the city since 2012.

"It's something I've always wanted to do," Jankowski said. "With (Kramer) not running, it leaves a void, so I might want to go for it now and capitalize on the Republican Party."

Cummings, meanwhile, is no stranger to the position. She ran unsuccessfully more than a decade ago for the Assembly seat, but has been a County Board supervisor since 1998 when she, coincidentally, replaced Kramer on the board. Cummings has also been an alderman on the city's Common Council since 2001.

She also considered a run at the City of Waukesha's mayoral position that was contested by Jeff Scrima and Shawn Reilly on Tuesday. She filed a campaign registration statement but did not turn in her declaration of candidacy papers.

"At the time for my family, it was not the right time," said Cummings, who has three adult children and takes care of her 28-year-old son who has autism.

This time, however, Cummings said she's "seriously considering" the state seat.

"I would bring to Madison a unique perspective as both a county supervisor and as an alderman with a proven track record of supporting small businesses, being a fiscal conservative and making tough decisions," she said. "I always want to make a difference for whatever position I serve."

Banske, who is up for re-election for his town supervisor seat, said he would make a decision about the Assembly seat after Tuesday's municipal elections. Banske is a mortgage banker/branch partner for Cherry Creek Mortgage.

Perry confident

While those individuals were still undecided, Perry, who works as a digital account executive for Journal Sentinel Digital Solutions, is all in on a run. The Journal Sentinel is owned by Journal Communications, which also owns Waukesha Now.

Perry opened his campaign accounts March 27 and planned to file his paperwork early this week.

"My mulling for the position is over," said Perry, who has two children (ages 1 and 2). He and his wife, Angela, are expecting their third child in September. "I believe I'm the best person to replace Bill Kramer. I'm very confident in my abilities and very confident that I'll win."

He said he has received full support from his family and was encouraged by members of the Common Council to run for the Assembly seat.

"I think the position of alderman to the state Assembly translates quite well, because what I'm doing in the city relates to the state," Perry said. "It's a great opportunity. I'm ambitious and have a true passion for politics and have a respect for the position that it deserves."

Perry, 33, praised the work of Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican Party over the last few years in Madison.

"The Republicans have done a lot of great things," Perry said. "Whoever wins shouldn't go in there looking to change a lot. I would go in there and learn first as much as possible."

He added that when he became an alderman last year he didn't necessarily intend to move up to the state level so soon.

"I treat every opportunity individually," Perry said. "I didn't run for the alderman position with the purpose of running for Assembly. At the time, Kramer was doing a solid job. But it's a unique situation because of what happened. So after doing the research, I never found a roadblock."

Kramer charged

The seat is open because Kramer filed paperwork Monday declaring that he won't run again after accusations surfaced last month that he sexually harassed one woman and inappropriately touched another while in Washington, D.C.

Once those allegations came to light, Assembly Republicans stripped Kramer of his title as majority leader. He had been elected to that position in September.

Kramer was charged Friday with two felony counts of second-degree sexual assault for allegedly groping a female legislative staffer in Muskego three years ago.

"I've never met or spoke with him, and everyone who has is disappointed in him, of course," Perry said of Kramer. "So I'm just looking to move forward with the position."