Wisconsin’s second 3rd Congressional District debate Wednesday night was a heated one, with incumbent U.S. Rep. Democrat Ron Kind, Republican Dan Kapanke and independent Michael Krsiean exchanging sharp arguments.
The debate in the Council Fire Room of Davies Center attracted approximately 500 people, including faculty, students and community members. They heard the candidates’ stance on topics such as the economy, health care reform, Social Security, higher education costs, agriculture and tax cuts.
Kind said that getting people back to work is one of the most important issues that Americans face as a nation. He said what works for western Wisconsin is the strength of small business, family farmers and entrepreneurship.
“We need to start providing more tax incentives for companies that stay right here in Wisconsin; growing and creating jobs,” he said.
Kapanke said Kind goes against what he says, because the current government policies, which Kind supports, have created such uncertainty in the business world and in the consumer world that Americans are paralyzed as a nation, Kapanke said.
Regarding Social Security reform, Krsiean said he would like to eliminate it and have a “cash out plan.”
“You gave in all of those years, and you deserve to get out what you put in,” he said.
Kind accused Kapanke of wanting to privatize Social Security, something that Kapanke said he never stated. Kapanke also said that Social Security shouldn’t be a partisan issue, because it’s an issue for senior citizens and those who are approaching ages that are eligible for it.
Freshman Ryan Lewis said he has been to a few recent political debates and feels that it’s his civic duty as a citizen to be politically literate.
“Students are a huge part of the society and they should be better informed instead of sheltered here,” he said.
When asked about keeping higher education affordable, Kapanke said that as a state senator he has been an advocate for the university system. He said when compared to other states regarding tuition, Wisconsin is OK. He also said that the number one thing that needs to be done is to make sure that Wisconsin students have access to higher education.
“The state funded support for the university system has decreased, then we have to be creative and innovative, and we have been doing that,” Kapanke said, mentioning UW-La Crosse’s “Growth and Access Plan” that increased enrollment by 1,000 students.
Krsiean disagreed, saying that he wanted to abolish the Department of Education and stop federal funding for universities.
Throughout the debate, Kind stated three times that he has been ranked fifth most independent politician in Washington, D.C. But Kapanke questioned Kind’s claims of independence.
“It’s documented, Ron, that you supported Nancy Pelosi 93 percent of the time,” said Kapanke.
The 3rd District covers more than a dozen counties, from Iowa, Sauk and Lafeyette counties and up to St. Croix County at the Minnesota state line. The elections will be held Nov. 2.