One Republican will emerge from crowded GOP field for District 97 assembly seat

Published on: 7/28/2014

Some are young upstart politicians looking to reach a bigger audience.

Others have been around the political realm for a while who are also now looking to take their views to a bigger stage.

Six Republicans — Scott Allen, Joe Banske, Kathleen Cummings, Aaron Perry, Brandon Rosner and Vince Trovato — are in the District 97 state assembly primary, which will be held on Aug. 12.

No Democrats are running for the position, so the winner of the primary will essentially become the district's new representative. The winner will replace Rep. Bill Kramer, R-Waukesha, who is not seeking re-election amid sexual assault charges in Waukesha County.

The 97th Assembly District includes the southern half of the city of Waukesha, the southwestern portion of the town of Waukesha, the southeastern portion of the town of Genesee and the northeastern portion of the town of Mukwonago.

Waukesha NOW caught up with the candidates shortly before the election. Candidates were limited to 100 words for each question and in some case were edited for length.

Why are you the best candidate for the position?

Allen: My business experience gives me a better perspective on how to grow our economy. My public sector and elected office experience gives me insight into the workings of government to be able to improve efficiency and reduce spending. My education in public finance will assist in finding solutions to lower taxes. My military experience makes me diligent in protecting liberty. And my leadership skills, honed from years of leading people, will help to get things done. I am a proven conservative and the most qualified person to represent the people of the 97th District.

Banske: This election will come down to a choice of who will people be able to trust and count on when the pressure is on. My experience in the Town of Waukesha reflects that I stood firm on lowering taxes. My experience shows I worked hard to understand the facts and find solutions to challenges. While other candidates sought their "friends" endorsements and money, I am the only candidate to earn the endorsement of Wisconsin Family Action PAC, Pro-Life and Wisconsin Right to Life, as well as the Liberty Education Award. My experience proves I am sincere, genuine, and authentically conservative.

Cummings: I bring a level of experience and commitment of public service to the community, working for the residents of Waukesha County. I am politically tested with proven qualifications. I am pro-jobs, pro-life, pro-second amendment, and pro family values. I believe "we the people" are in charge of our government.

Perry: My work as alderman representing District 97 residents, and my work on local issues, gives me the most relevant experience in how decisions made in the assembly impact all of us. Rather than take my word for it, think of all the people within District 97 who voted me into office as alderman. Your neighbors trust me and continue to support me based on my current record of fighting for local control of issues that matter to their lives. As your next assemblyman, I'm committed to continuing my regular communication with residents to ensure your voice in Madison is strong.

Rosner: I have 10-plus years of private sector experience. I believe we need a 'fresh start' with someone with a track record of private sector experience.

Trovato: I am the only candidate in the race with any experience actually writing bills or legislation in the state assembly. I worked for Republican leadership in the Assembly during the very historic 2011-12 session when our office worked with Gov. Walker to write legislation that balanced our budget and put our state back on the path of fiscal responsibility. I have worked abroad with the International Republican Institute navigating African political systems in South Sudan — meaning that I do not get easily frustrated with gridlock or political problems. I will be ready to serve on day one.

What are the top local issues that you would fight for in Madison?

Allen: More jobs and better paying jobs. We need to grow our economy to stay relevant and competitive. We need to attract technology companies and encourage entrepreneurialism. Require more efficiency in government to reduce spending and generate tax savings. The state needs to take the lead in fostering intergovernmental cooperation to improve the overall product/service delivery to taxpayers at a lower cost. Remain diligent in protecting liberty. Whether it is the right to bear arms, the right to speech or private property rights, we need to guard against the overreaching arm of big government trying to create a "better society."

Banske: The top priority is education. Repealing Common Core involvement will restore local control over curriculum and methods for education. Educational results will be best served by educators taking ownership of the work product, and parents being actively engaged in holding the system and their children accountable for performance. Our road budget is facing more than a $650 million dollar deficit. Wisconsin needs good roads. In Kenosha we see good roads and appropriate tax strategy can spur job growth. We need to examine every project, every need, and provide the best solution to this priority need to fix our current infrastructure.

Cummings: City of Waukesha has made an application to get Lake Michigan water. It will require the approval of the five Great Lakes governors and Canada. Resolution of this issue is vital to the city in order to continue to have safe, sustainable drinking water for the next 100 years. I would look at ways to streamline government so it becomes easier for small- and mid-sized businesses to be created and thrive. I would create opportunities for reducing the tax burden on residents of the 97th Assembly District.

Perry: The most significant issue facing Waukesha is bringing safe, clean, reasonably priced water to residents of Waukesha. (Regarding tax policy) I believe citizens are the best decision makers when it comes to their own money. I applaud Gov. Scott Walker for the tax relief packages that have passed under his leadership. Tax rates must remain low to ensure Wisconsin families have the opportunity and means to support themselves. My experience with the budget for the City of Waukesha on the Finance Committee gives me a unique perspective on what our area requires of elected officials' handling of our budget.

Rosner: Jobs: Business owners in Waukesha have provided me examples of ways that state government can get out of the way so they can expand and create jobs. Taxes: The state property tax burden along with the income state rate still needs to be reduced. Job training: Job creators with open positions indicate a need for the technical training programs to be enhanced to match them with real skilled workers.

Trovato: I am a conservative and will fight to reduce taxes, boost job creation and preserve our fundamental individual liberties. I will fight for privacy rights in an age when that no longer seems to be protected. I want to boost Wisconsin's export markets and allow our companies to grow and hire people for well-paying, family sustaining jobs. I am pro-life and value the sanctity of life. I support the Second Amendment and the Bill of Rights in its entirety. I want to fight the spread of heroin in Waukesha County.

Scott Allen

Age: 48

Address: S42W25312 Dale Drive, Waukesha

Employer/occupation: Sales director, Shorewest Realtors

Years of residency in the district: 19

Education: Master's degree in public administration, Master's degree in urban planning, University of Southern California; Bachelor's degree in political science from UW-Milwaukee

Previous political experience or other related experience/community involvement: Six years in the U.S. Army Reserve, recipient of the Wisconsin Reserve Military Achievement Award; three years on the Waukesha Common Council (1998-2001). Twice served on the board of directors for the Waukesha Civic Theatre, currently serving on the Waukesha County Community Development Block Grant board.

Family: Wife, Angila, two daughters

Contact information (phone number, email): (262)442-8695,

Joe Banske

Age: 46

Address: S32W26341 Bob Bell Circle, Waukesha

Employer/occupation: Self employed, mortgage banker

Years of residency in the district: 10

Education: Cardinal Stritch University, business administration

Previous political experience or other related experience/community involvement: Town of Waukesha, supervisor, 2010-14; Fox River Christian Church, Upward sports coach and site director (Waukesha campus) 2010-14; Waukesha South High School, varsity boys volleyball coach, 1995-2004

Family: Wife, Jennifer, two children, 6 and 9 years old

Contact information (phone number, email): (414) 350-7394,

Kathleen Cummings

Age: 59

Address: 1325 E. Roberta Ave., Waukesha

Employer/occupation: Elected official

Years of residency in the district: 36

Education: High school graduate with a variety of ongoing continuing education through workshops, seminars and conventions related to job and the needs of those with developmental disabilities

Previous political experience or other related experience/community involvement: Waukesha County Board supervisor (1999-present), city of Waukesha alderman (2001-present), Waukesha School District Superintendent's Advisory Committee member; Autism Society of Southeastern Wisconsin former board member; city of Waukesha Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department: Circle of Friends lead person to facilitate field trips for special needs youth; Boy Scouts: Potawatomi Area Council/Special Needs Committee-Membership; Committee member of Troop 159; Girl Scouts: lifetime member and former leader of seven troops

Family: Husband, David, three adult children

Contact information (phone, email): (262) 853-6272,

Aaron Perry

Age: 34

Address: 912 Valley Hill Drive, Waukesha

Employer/occupation: Journal Sentinel Digital Solutions

Years of residency in the district: 5

Education: Mayer Lutheran High School (Minnesota)

Previous political experience or other related experience/community involvement: City of Waukesha alderman, District 12; served on the City Finance Committee, License and Ordinance Committee and Community Development Block Grant Committee. Volunteered at Waukesha County Food Pantry. Participates in various city/neighborhood clean ups and food drives.

Family: Wife, Angie, sons Landon, 2, Jackson, 1, baby girl due in September

Contact information (phone number, email): (414) 795-0990,

Brandon Rosner

Age: 34

Address: 1832 Deer Path, Waukesha

Employer/occupation: Healthcare consultant, Humana

Years of residency in the district: 2

Education: Milwaukee School of Engineering graduate, bachelor's degree in business and computer systems

Previous political experience or other related experience/community involvement: Active in Republican Party as a volunteer (interned in President George W. Bush's White House in the summer of 2001) and served in professional roles (campaign manager for U.S. Congressional candidate John Gard and a statewide campaign manager for Mike Huckabee's presidential run in 2008). Republican Party of Waukesha County member; president of the MSOE Alumni Association and member of Lakewood Church

Family: Wife, Keren Rosner, daughter, Evelyn, and a baby on the way after the election

Contact information (phone number, email): (262) 235-0358,

Vince Trovato

Age: 32

Address: 319 E. Wabash Ave., Waukesha

Employer/occupation: Partner with Global Strategies (a firm offering business and political advice to Wisconsin companies looking to export or invest overseas)

Years of residency in the district: 28 years

Education: Waukesha West High School graduate, University of Wisconsin-Madison, bachelor's degrees in history and international studies

Previous political experience or other related experience/community involvement: President of the Waukesha West Young Republicans (1998-2000); member of the College Republicans at UW-Madison; interned for Scott Walker while in college; victory director for SE Wisconsin during John McCain's presidential campaign in 2008; executive board member of the Waukesha County Republican Party (2009-10); served as policy adviser in Wisconsin state assembly with Rep. Dan Knodl (2011-12) and program officer with the International Republican Institute in South Sudan following time in the Legislature; also coached youth baseball and is member of First United Methodist Church in downtown Waukesha

Family: Single

Contact information (phone number, email): (262) 370-8160,