Hudson Patch, in cooperation with River Channel community access TV, livestreamed the Monday, July 25, debate between Republican Sen. Sheila Harsdorf and Democratic challenger Shelly Moore.
The debate, which was the first of three between the candidates, was taped for later airing on community access TV and on Hudson Patch.
High-quality video of the debate, in its entirety, will be available on Hudson Patch in the afternoon on Tuesday, July 26, and will air on River Channel community access TV (Channel 15) several times before the election.
(Update: 11:20 a.m., July 26, 2011) There are a lot of people to thank for helping put on last night's event. So, here we go:
- I'd like to thank both Shelly Moore and Sheila Harsdorf for agreeing to the debate.
- I'd like to thank River Channel Hudson/North Hudson Community Access TV for use of its studio and for recording the event for broader distribution on TV.
- I'd like to thank All Seasons Rental for providing the chairs for our studio audience.
- I'd like to thank community member Paul Rode for being our event door man.
- I'd like to thank the members of the local media from River Towns Newspapers, WIXK Radio and Wisconsin Public Radio who attended the debate.
- I'd like to thank both the St. Croix County Republican Party and the St. Croix County Democratic Party for handing out tickets to the event to civil and polite members of the Hudson community.
(Update: 8:34 p.m.) -Lighting round: A series of quick-hit questions on high profile topics:
Q: Pro-life or pro-choice?
Moore: I'm pro-child. I volunteer to work to streamline the adoption process. I'm dedicating my life to that in my volunteer work.
Harsdorf: I support protecting life of unborn. Endorsed by Right to life.
Q: Voter ID Laws:
Harsdorf: I support Voter ID laws. Over 70 percent of the population supports this, which should bring integrity to the voting process.
Moore: I want to make sure we prevent voter fraud; but I want to make sure we don't do so at the risk of people's rights. Don't want to inhibit the voter process.
Q: Conceal/Carry and gun laws:
Moore: My opponent likes to suggest I'm not an active outdoors person/sportsperson. I was raised as a hunter. I'm ambidextrous with a handgun. I support right to bear arms.
Harsdorf: Support conceal/carry. Was vetoed several times before this governor, but now it's signed into law. We were one of two states without one. I believe conceal/carry is a right. Very pleased to pass the law.
Q: Marriage rights/Same Sex marriage.
Harsdorf: I support traditional marriage.
Moore: Let's leave it up to individual churches. And let's deal with what's important.
Q: Rural Broadband:
Moore: Rural broadband is critical, particularly to create jobs. Sen. Harsdorf is against that. We need to make sure we have access.
Harsdorf: This is essential. I have supported legislation that supports the private sector to expand rural broadband.
Q: What's your position on the environment?
Moore: I was born in Wisconsin. It's critical that we protect our environment; I'm saddened by the number of rollbacks in our current budget that would protect it better.
Harsdorf: As a hunter and fisher, I value our natural resources. Need to continue to protect and maintain the stewardship fund.
Q: What's your position on roads and infrastructure—particularly regarding the state roads through Hudson and the Stillwater Bridge?
Harsdorf: Stillwater Bridge: That project is long overdue. St. Croix crossing is critical. The Sierra Club has delayed this project with lawsuits for too long. The Sierra Club just endorsed my opponent. The only way we can get this built is through an exemption in Congress—which we'll see.
Moore: Stillwater Bridge is of critical importance. Sierra Club stands for a lot of things. We can work with them. It's time to move forward on this. Hopeful it will work through the process.
There are new budget cuts for state roads. Hundreds of millions of dollars are going to Milwaukee; we should be giving more money and freedom to local communities and their own projects.
Q: What's your position on campaign finance and the amount of outside money in this election?
Moore: I've never run for public office. Think the amount of outside money in this is appalling. My average donation is less than $20. Saddened that my opponent is against transparency to let people see more on campaign donations. We need to return our government to the people.
Harsdorf: I have traditionally supported campaign finance. I have more important priorities right now. We need to place our priorities on things more important than the public financing of elections.
Q: Both sides have engaged in negative campaigning. What's your position on this?
Harsdorf: Campaigns are about issues and leadership styles. It raises questions when the state's largest newspaper suggests fliers are false. It's not right to scare people or mislead.
Moore: The day I announced, there was namecalling. Republicans tried to run a fake candidate. My opponent did not stand up. A real leader would have stood up and stopped this.
Question: Why should you be the Senator for District 10?
Harsdorf: It's one thing to say something, but it's another to mislead. My opponent is trying to suggest she's a uniter. I believe that in order to turn our state around, we need to get our fiscal house in order. The reforms I voted for—that the special interests want to block—will help us. We need to continue on our path. We are a friendly business state. I don't want to see us return to the past. We can't afford it. We can't compromise our kids' future.
Moore: My record, even in the teacher's association, is to work hard. I know it's important for everyone to work together. It's actually the people who are being affected by the state's choices. It's time to stop the foolishness. It's time our elected officials are responsible with our tax dollars.
(Update: 8:11 p.m.)
Harsdorf asks a question to Moore: Why did you claim the government cleared you of using school resources when you haven't been cleared?
The Ellsworth School District did release a statement clearing me of the charges. Then they received more requests that have overwhelmed my district and making it look like it's an ongoing investigation. That's not telling the full truth.
The district complied and released my emails. Then they cleared me. My superintendent is busy dealing with budget cuts he didn't anticipate; now he's being forced to comply with these requests? It's a distortion.
Moore's question to Harsdorf: Your budget raised taxes on working poor. How can you say you're cutting taxes when all the evidence goes to the opposite?
Taxes were actually reduced by $24 million. My opponent is trying to scare people. The bottom line is the increases she's talking about are paying for medical assistance that we are not receiving support from the federal level for. This was not a tax increase. My opponent has a clear record against property tax control. The current budget, without its property tax controls, would have brought a $735 property tax increase.
Q: What is your plan for bringing private-sector jobs to the district?
Moore: Having a skilled workforce is critical to getting jobs. We're cutting funds to state colleges—and there are two in our district. It is critical that we do what we can to bring family-sustaining jobs to our area, not just short-term solutions.
Harsdorf: Want to continue doing what we've been doing thus far. Passing numerous tax incentives that create jobs. Help companies come here from states that are raising taxes. Education has been and continues to be a priority. What does not work is to invest in education only to see them leave for other states.
Tax structure and regulations are what businesses respond to. So we need to make this state friendly to that.
(Update: 8 p.m.)
Q: What's your position on collective bargaining and what, if any role, it played in the current budget situation?
Moore: I don't have a public record. I'm not an elected politician. I don't support just what I've been told to support. That's not how most people think. Specifically to collective bargaining: That's not the reason I got involved in this campaign. There were so many issues in the budget repair bill—that's why I got involved. Collective bargaining is important yes, but it's downright offensive to simplify my involvement in this race to just one issue. Collective bargaining is not the reason I'm here.
Harsdorf: I take very seriously what communication I get from constituents. My opponent has contacted me several times over the year on many issues. She has emphatically urged me to support tax increases. I'm not sure what that means. She does have a record in my office: supporting taxes and opposing revenue limits. There's a pattern developing with my opponent. Her credibility is being questioned. Specifically regarding collective bargaining. All the issues she says are driving her candidacy weren't even issues at the time she decided to run. There is a cost to collective bargaining. It ties the hands of communities trying to balance budgets.
Q: How important is constituent communication?
Harsdorf: It's not just about listening to the loudest voices. It's about listening to taxpayers. Want to listen to those who want us to keep our fiscal house in order, not outside special interests looking to serve themselves.
Moore: Important to listen to constituents and not slant things. I have been a constituent of Sen. Harsdorf for a long time. The thing I find most offensive as I get the mailings: They're slanted. It's the job of your state senator to give you the facts. We got a flier in late May that was absurd propaganda. These tactics—manipulating literature etc.—that's not giving them the facts. It's the priority of the state senator to respond and listen to the people of Senate District 10.
(Update: 7:49 p.m)
What's do you feel is the No. 1 priority for our state government right now?
Harsdorf: No. 1 priority is balancing the budget. Had a $3.6 billion shortfall. But this was about getting our fiscal house in order. While most states are addressing shortfalls, they're looking at massive layoffs. We are about providing flexibilities to local governments to deal with their challenges. The reforms we put in place are already creating jobs. Almost 13,000 new jobs. That's the most since 2003. Nearly half of the jobs in the nation were created here in Wisconsin. I want to encourage an environment where that continues to happen.
Moore: Job creation—the creation of jobs that stay here in the district. Sen. Harsdorf is talking about things that were created in the last administration. The last administration had a surplus. People in the senate district know they're hurting. They know the training isn't there because of cuts in training aid.
Q: What's the best way to balance the state budget?
Moore: (1) Create sustaining jobs. (2) Look at what's going on with our money. Gov. Walker is proposing a larger budget than ever before. But all our municipalities are seeing significant cuts. Seeing higher taxes. Middle class is the target. Sen. Harsdorf needs to focus on the needs of her district. I see this in my classrooms. Constituents here can't stay because they can't afford to, and can't get jobs. There are no guarantees that there will be job creation with tax breaks.
Harsdorf: Best way to balance is the budget is to live within our means. Previous administration tried increasing taxes. We eliminated structural deficit. If we look at the failed policies of the previous administration, we lost jobs. We increased taxes that affected hard-working families. These are real taxes. That's not the answer. It doesn't work. The bottom line is we are seeing jobs created in this state now.
(Update: 7:40 p.m.)
Q: What do you think about the recall effort and what it means to the political process?
Moore: Believes recall is the right of the people. We tried to say to our representatives: Listen—you have not heard us. I stood up in front of persons who said recall. We tried to communicate but felt our voices were not heard. That's when neighbors began coming together for this recall. We need to make sure to put the true needs of their constituencies before the people. Political parties are not the answer. Listening to the political parties are what put us here.
Harsdorf: I'm not being recalled because I did anything wrong. I'm being recalled because I stood up to special interests. In February we saw the special interests involved in the recall. There was more spent in collecting those signatures than any other district. That all came from outside our district. This is being driven by outside this senate district. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are being spent to try and elect a special interests' hand-chosen candidate. These out-of-state interests are not interested in the welfare of Wisconsin residents.
(Update: 7:34 p.m.) - Candidates Sheila Harsdorf and Shelly Moore introduce themselves to the voters. There is an invited studio audience of approximately 50 in attendance.