Profiles: 51st District Assembly candidates
Rep. Howard Marklein (R) v. Maureen May-Grimm (D)
Howard Marklein: Certified Public Accountant
Maureen May-Grimm: Lands End, IBM
Where they stand
Among the 51st Assembly District’s major employers, Lands End recently laid of 199 workers in its call center as more orders come in online. The candidates were asked by News 3 anchor Eric Franke what they could do, if anything, to influence job growth and creation.
Howard Marklein: “LandsEnd is a huge employer as you mentioned in our district, the economic footprint goes from one end of my district to the other and its provided substantial incomes for families in the area for many many years. In terms of what we do I guess I’ve been working with the Southwest Wisconsin Workforce Development board. They’ve had sessions within the area, to help employees improve their skills, look for opportunities and hopefully the Southwest Wisconsin Workforce Development board is also working with Lands End trying to keep as many of those people that are or will be laid off in other positions in the company.”
Maureen May-Grimm: “I used to work at Lands End. Many of the people impacted have been working 20, 30 years on the phones. And as we know a big reason for this downshift, is because people aren’t calling in orders anymore, they’re ordering over the internet, technology is changing. So these folks are going to need re-training quite possibly enter the jobs that are needed today. And we’ve had significant cuts, 30 percent to our vocational schools. That’s a problem. We need to invest in that so people who are hit with this can get the re-training they need.”
We asked each of the candidates we interviewed about Act 10, the budget repair bill backed by Governor Scott Walker that ultimately ended the bulk of public employee collective bargaining rights.
Marklein recalled leaving a meeting when he learned that all of his benefits as a state legislator would only cost him $89 a month, he felt “something just didn’t seem right”. Marklein voted for Act 10 and said “people may not like that, but I do think it’s fair”.
May-Grimm has a opposing view and wants to see Act 10 revisited in the next legislative session. She believes that being a “tough negotiator” is the way to set a bar establishing public employees should pay more, but that they should not lose their bargaining rights.