(Editors Note: Here are the first four candidates answers in the race for the 37th District. The next four will run this week).

There is likely an appealing candidate for just about every Republican voter out there in the 37th Assembly District. After all, there are eight people running in the primary for the July special election, set for June 15.

Seeking to replace Watertown’s John Jagler in the position in the primary election are William Penterman, of Columbus; Nathan Pollnow, Reeseville; Spencer Zimmerman, Janesville and Jenifer Quimby, of Waterloo, as well as Nick Krueger, Cathy Houchin, Steve Kauffeld and Jennifer Meinhardt, all of Watertown. Jagler was elected in April to the state senate.

The newspaper sent questionnaires to all of the Republican candidates to learn more about their backgrounds and their views on current issues in the state and country. Specifically, they were asked if Donald Trump’s claim that “the election was stolen” has any validity and how redistricting in Wisconsin could be improved. They were also asked how Wisconsin can make a smooth transition out of the pandemic and what its budget should include. They were then asked to provide statements of candidacy of up to 100 words.

The special election is scheduled for July 13 and the Democratic candidate is Pete Adams of Columbus. An independent candidate is Stephen W. Ratzlaff of DeForest.

The 37th Assembly District is bordered on the west by DeForest, on the east by Oconomowoc, the north by Columbus and the south by Waterloo and Watertown.

Cathy Houchin

Cathy Houchin, 64, of 604 Long St., Watertown, has lived in the city and the 37th Assembly District since 1974.

She has been married to Donald Houchin, for more than 30 years. Together they raised two boys, James and Nicholas.

She has a bachelor’s degree in music education and a master’s degree in education. She has also pursued numerous licenses and additional degrees to promote technology in the classroom; music technology; and science technology, engineering, arts and math.

Houchin’s professional background includes being a teacher for more than 42 years. Since then, she has spoken as a guest lecturer internationally multiple times. She has also led a committee to set the music education standards for the State of Wisconsin. She has spoken at conferences across the country on STEM topics, coding in the classroom, and empowering students with skills needed for careers in the 21st century.

She has raised more than $50,000 since 2011 in grants — allowing every student at Webster and Lebanon elementary schools to learn piano and ukulele basics. She said these schools are the only ones with keyboards at the elementary level. She also has added many other items to Webster and Lebanon that would not have been possible without grants. These grant dollars also paid for numerous field trips and educational experiences that the school could not afford to do on its own. She said that these programs were run at no cost to taxpayers.

She also discussed her membership in civic organizations.

“With over 40 years as a Watertown resident, I’ve volunteered with countless organizations and charitable causes,” she said. “I’m most proud of my roles in my local church. I have both led and assisted their music ministries over the years. I’ve also volunteered on the PTO board of my boys’ schools, helped build S-TEAM — an organization dedicated to building self-esteem and leadership skills for the area’s youth via the arts — and served as a board member for the international society for technology in education. ISTE is the leading science, technology, engineering and mathematics organization in the world, and offers numerous conferences and educational events for educators.”

Her political experience includes service as a Dodge County supervisor since 2016. She sits on the board, representing the 21st District, and also has served on the building and taxation committees.

Do you think Trump’s claim that “the election was stolen” has any validity?

“This question is a distraction from the real issues in this race. President Trump highlighted a disturbing number of election irregularities that should concern anyone who believes in democracy. Like every other state, Wisconsin owes it to our citizens to maintain a pristine voting process and prevent fraud wherever possible. I am a strong proponent of protecting our voter ID laws and banning practices such as ballot harvesting. Further, Wisconsin must devote resources to arresting all bad actors and punishing them to the fullest extent of the law.”

Redistricting in Wisconsin has been controversial. How do you think redistricting in Wisconsin could be improved?

“First, we need to remember that the legislature draws our maps. Electoral maps became controversial when the Democrats asked the courts to step in — blurring the lines of separation of powers and casting doubt on the legitimacy of our government. We need accountability in this process, and courts should only become involved if there’s a legitimate constitutional issue at play. To date, that has not happened.”

What should Wisconsin do to make a smooth transition out of the pandemic?

“Wisconsin needs to re-open. We must end all city, county and state mandates related to COVID-19. Further, the legislature should engage business leaders to identify opportunities for reduced regulation and incentivize business growth. Gov. Tony Evers has caused irreparable harm the past year and a half by pursuing unconstitutional COVID-19 mandates instead of fulfilling his duties to the residents of Wisconsin. I will work tirelessly to see that the legislature does the opposite of him.”

Wisconsin is working on its budget right now. What is the most important thing to be included?

“My biggest priority is Wisconsin taxpayers. In April, Kiplinger’s listed Wisconsin as No. 6 on the ‘10 Least Tax-Friendly States for Middle-Class Families.’ This is not acceptable and reducing the tax burden on our residents is one of my top priorities. I will do whatever possible to make sure Wisconsin residents take home as much of THEIR money as possible — reducing the budget wherever I can.”

Her statement of candidacy reads:

“I, Cathy Houchin, am running for you. I am running to be a voice for the voiceless — the people’s government told them they were not essential, the forgotten men and women of the 37th. I’ve fought tirelessly, for three consecutive terms, as a Dodge County Supervisor and look forward to doing the same in Madison.

My platform is simple: Government must shrink and freedom must grow. I’m asking for your vote so we can re-open Wisconsin and bring prosperity back. To do this, we must end senseless mandates, reduce regulations and limit spending, so taxpayers take more of their paycheck home.”

Steve Kauffeld

Steve Kauffeld has lived in Watertown and the Town of Shields for more than 50 years and his father was pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Watertown for more than 30 years.

Kauffeld and his wife Linda have been married for 46 years and are both graduates of the Watertown Unified School District, as are their three children. Both are retired, with Steve having been a line clearance crew leader for 37 years. He also operated his own private tree care business for 20 years, retiring in 2011.

In 2012, he entered the race for the 37th Assembly District seat and came in second in the primary. In 2013, he ran for the WUSD Board of Education and has retained that position, serving the Watertown community for eight years.

Kauffeld is a member and past president of the Izaak Walton League of America, a national conservation organization. He is also and active member of Gun Owners of America, a national, pro-2nd Amendment advocacy group.

Do you think Trump’s claim that “the election was stolen” has any validity?

“Voting integrity is an issue that is being addressed for the most part, on a partisan basis with numerous claims of irregularities which are presently being investigated not only in Wisconsin, bu throughout the United States. The sanctity of our voting process is of preeminent importance.”

Redistricting in Wisconsin has been controversial. How do you think redistricting in Wisconsin could be improved?

“The Wisconsin State Legislature draws the congressional and legislative district boundaries. The Wisconsin Constitution requires that the districts be compact and respect county, precinct, town and ward lines where possible. This is all subject to signing, or veto, by the governor. As always in a census year, there is a lot of political hay to be made in the remapping of voting districts in Wisconsin so be prepared for a lot of rhetoric on both sides of the issue. Let the people make their own choices and stop the governmental/bureaucratic overreach. Coercion is never a popular methodology of governance.”

What should Wisconsin do to make a smooth transition out of the pandemic?

Kauffeld did not reply to this question.

Wisconsin is working on its budget right now. What is the most important thing to be included?

“There is no more important budget item except for protecting the financial solvency of Wisconsin which has myriad components to it.

His statement of candidacy reads:

“I am active in the promotion of the Christian lifestyle and its principles. I am pro-life. I am and have been politically active on many levels involving state, county and federal public policy dealing mostly, with the defense and promotion of our 1st, 2nd, 4th and 10th amendments. My eight years of service on the school board has been invaluable.

The unfair treatment of small business has damaged our state’s economy by arbitrarily choosing who was essential. Our rights of assembly were impugned, even our ability to worship as we choose. This ought not be. As Henry David Thoreau stated, ‘That government is best that governs least.’”

Nick Krueger

Nick Krueger, 33, of 912 S. Third St., Watertown, has lived in the 37th Assembly District for seven years.

He is married to Abbie Krueger and he has a master’s degree from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He has a bachelor’s degree from Ripon College.

His professional background includes, from 2015-2021, being chief of staff to conservative State Rep. Terry Katsma, R–Oostburg, in Madison; 2011-2014, analyst, Institute of Land Warfare, Association of the U.S. Army, Arlington, Virginia.

He is a member of St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, Watertown, and is a member of the church council, overseeing 34 employees and a $2.5 million budget. He is the scholarship committee chairman, administering a $2 million endowment.

His political experience also includes being a Watertown Plan Commission citizen member since 2020. He touted his work as Katsma’s senior aide for nearly seven years. He also said, as an analyst for the Association of the U.S. Army, he advocated in support of a strong and ready U.S. military and for following through with promises made to seniors and retirees.

Do you think former President Donald Trump’s claim that “the election was stolen” has any validity?

“I am eager to receive the report, due later this year, from our non-partisan state Legislative Audit Bureau which is presently investigating several questions related to the fall 2020 election,” he said. “That work will surely help separate fact from fiction, and I hope to have the opportunity to help author some changes that are based on their findings — recommendations which, I expect, Republicans and Democrats should be able to agree upon as genuine improvements that are based upon indisputable facts.

How can redistricting in Wisconsin be improved?

“It’s a good thing that the people who ultimately determine district boundaries — that is, legislators and judges — are elected officials and therefore directly accountable to the voters for those decisions. I would be deeply skeptical of taking such an important duty away from elected, accountable people and giving it instead to unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats. The last thing we need is another government accountability board that is supposedly non-partisan, but actually becomes a partisan weapon.”

What can Wisconsin do to make a smooth transition out of the pandemic?

“Very many families have suffered setbacks over the past year and need help regaining their independence. Tens of thousands of people in our state have been added to the welfare rolls. People have armed themselves in record numbers, because they feel less safe than before. Academic achievement gaps got worse, particularly for low-income students and those with special needs. Substance abuse went up; mental health went down. Entrepreneurship got harder. Now is the time to focus on securing the peace, rebuilding trust in our institutions, encouraging families, expanding education options to help kids catch up, moving people back off of welfare and into the dignity of self-supporting work where employers desperately need them, and getting government out of the way of new economic growth.

Wisconsin is working on its budget right now. What is the most important thing to be included?

“Governor Evers’ initial budget proposal was completely unrealistic. Even though the state is in great financial shape, he proposed enormous tax hikes matched only by even more outrageous spending increases. He even tried to use this budget to repeal Act 10. So the most important step is to resist all the radical proposals that would undo so many responsible decisions that have already been made over the past decade. From there, we should carefully invest in priorities that we widely share such as in- person education and maintaining the roads we already have. And, with a historic state budget surplus, your government owes you a tax cut.”

His statement of candidacy reads:

“People’s trust in their elected leaders has been badly shaken over the past year. Folks are less sure that their leaders are even going to try to preserve the peace, govern according to the rule of law, fight for the integrity of our republic and help families get things back on track after a tough time. I am ready right away to be the steady hand that my community is searching for.”

Jennifer Meinhardt

Jennifer Meinhardt, 42, of 114 S. Monroe St., Watertown, has lived in the 37th Assembly District for seven years.

She is married to Tim Meinhardt and they have three children between the ages of 8 and 13 years old.

Meinhardt’s educational background includes a bachelor of science degree in English education, a bachelor of science degree in social studies education and a master of science degree in history.

Her professional background consists of her work as an associate professor of history at Maranatha Baptist University.

She is a member of Lakewood Baptist Church and the Jefferson County Republican Party.

She has never been elected, but said running for office is a natural extension of her years of teaching as she prepares to take a message of conservative values from the classroom to the capitol.

Do you think Trump’s claim that “the election was stolen” has any validity?

“We do know that irregularities existed. I support a series of election integrity bills introduced in the legislature that are designed to provide a system of checks and balances for elections by increasing transparency from the Wisconsin Election Commission, expanding prosecutorial rights, and strengthening the rules regarding the use of outside money. A government of the people must retain the trust of the people for it to work.”

Redistricting in Wisconsin has been controversial. How do you think redistricting in Wisconsin could be improved?

“The Wisconsin constitution directs the state legislature to create and approve redistricting maps after each federal census. Additionally, federal law imposes very specific requirements to ensure that minority votes are not diluted and that each district has proportionate populations. The current system contains very important checks and balances, while also allowing voters the opportunity to hold elected officials, not unelected bureaucrats, accountable for the maps that are created.”

What should Wisconsin do to make a smooth transition out of the pandemic?

“Wisconsin’s vaccination program is rolling out and businesses are reopening. However, our children have just experienced a year of disrupted education. The projected economic fallout from this is staggering. As successive waves of graduating classes enter the workforce, their lifetime earning potential could drop as much as 5% according to the Brookings Institute. Schools across the state need to identify those students who are not at grade-level and provide them with the support they need.”

Wisconsin is working on its budget right now. What is the most important thing to be included?

“It’s a great opportunity to expand school choice options for Wisconsin families. After a year of schools failing them, families are looking for schooling options that will empower them to provide an education for their children. Each child is both a present reflection and a future promise of families and communities. Investments in our children are a commitment to the hope that these children will reflect our values and take them further.”

Her statement of candidacy reads:

“As a conservative mom, as someone who has never held office, and as an associate professor of history, I’m joining in the great work of representative government to uphold the rule of law, protect religious freedom, value all life, and ensure that the inalienable rights of each of us are protected. My platform is based on the principles of ‘strong families, strong communities.’ I believe that the culmination of conservative policies is to reach a specific objective: the ability to live in a free society so that the people can practice their faith, raise their families, and engage with their communities.”

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