1st Assembly District Primary Candidate Questionnaire

Joel Kitchens

Age: 56

Education: Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, Ohio State University; Bachelor of Science in Dairy Science, Ohio State University

Experience: Founder, Door County Veterinary Associates, Ltd.; President, Sturgeon Bay Board of Education for 13 years, member for 15 years; Member, Sturgeon Bay Moravian Church; Youth baseball and softball coach; Member, Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association; and Member, Northeast Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association.

What separates you from the other Republican candidates in the primary election, and why do you want to represent the people of the 1st Assembly District?

The most important thing that I will bring to this office is leadership. I joined the Sturgeon Bay School Board at a time of financial crisis and have helped lead our district to an extended period of stability and prosperity. The enactment of Act 10 strained relationships in our schools and tested my leadership but through all of the turmoil, we did not allow it to affect the education of our children. I have proven that I have the ability to work with both sides and keep the focus on our common goal.

Do you see any way to level the playing field for the state’s equalization aid funding formula that pretty much exempts Door County school districts from state aid that most other districts in the state receive? (For example, the state average amount of aid for both rural and urban school districts is 54 percent; Sevastopol receives 3 percent of its budget from the state and Southern Door receives 19 percent.)

The unfair equalization aid is merely one aspect of a flawed state school funding system. Though well intentioned, it was misguided of our legislators to think that they could devise a formula in 1992 that would be fair for all school districts in our state in perpetuity. Unfortunately, it is extremely difficult to regain local control once the state or federal government has taken it. I promise to fight relentlessly to return that control and bring basic fairness to the state funding system to benefit our local schools.

We have seen increasing assaults on the environment and local control of environmental resources across the state in the name of doing business. How do we balance industry – such as Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, in our region – with the environment?

It is vital for the tourism industry as well as for the health of our citizens that we protect the fragile environment of our area. It will always be a balancing act between job growth and environmental protection but we must develop clear, science based standards and not allow them to be violated. While local control is important, there are times when local governments lack the resources to deal with these issues. It is crucial that we have a strong representative in Madison advocating for our concerns.

Partisan bickering and legislative gridlock appears to be the political legacy of our times. If elected, would you vote strictly along party lines or would you assess each piece of legislation and what it could mean to your constituency, no matter which side of the aisle the legislation might have originated?

I have demonstrated repeatedly on the School Board that I have the ability to work with people of differing political persuasions. If elected, I intend to maintain good relations with all legislators from both parties and to work together whenever it is possible. I will always vote for what is best for the First Assembly District.

What is your opinion about the increasing amount of out-of-state money going to Wisconsin politicians? (It was $4.11 million in 2013, a non-election year, and $17.2 million in 2012.) Have you accepted or would you accept money from an out-of-state contributor?

The large amount of campaign money coming from special interest groups and single-issue donors can clearly be a corrupting force in our political system, whether they be in-state or out-of-state sources. These groups or individuals expect a specific action in return for their investment and often have little concern for the overall well-being of our state. The most important thing when considering political donations, no matter where they come from, is that the candidate receiving them does not become beholden to the donor. I have not accepted any such donations and when elected, I will always hold the interests of the voters of this district as my guide.

What do you see as the biggest challenge for Wisconsin and how would you address it?

The biggest challenge facing Wisconsin will be to continue growing our economy. If people have good paying, stable jobs most of our other problems take care of themselves. To do this, we must concentrate on creating a business friendly atmosphere where businesses know that they will not be overburdened with excessive taxes and unfair regulations. Businesses must look at their government as an ally in overcoming challenges, rather than as a roadblock.

What do you see as the biggest challenge for the 1st Assembly District and how would you address it?

Similarly, the biggest challenge facing the First Assembly District is to create year-round, high paying jobs while preserving the things that make it such a special place. Our economy is dependent on tourism, agriculture and manufacturing and it is vital that all three remain strong for us to thrive. I will be the friend that our businesses can count on to help them navigate the red tape that comes out of Madison.