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Billings and Gundersen meet in virtual 95th District debate

Brad Williams

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Jill Billings (top-center) and Jerome Gundersen (top-right) debate Monday afternoon for the 95th District Assembly seat, answering questions from local journalist. UW-La Crosse political science professor Dr. Anthony Chergosky (top-left) was moderator.

The coronavirus could have an influence on how you vote in the next election, even down to races for the legislature. 

The two candidates for Wisconsin’s 95th District Assembly race are concerned about small businesses getting beyond the pandemic. 

In a virtual debate held Monday, incumbent Democrat Jill Billings supported special funding for businesses that were shut down a long time.  

“I talked to business owners who say, I don’t know if I can make it past the new year,” Billings said. “I was happy that that extra infusion of cash came in.”

Republican challenger Jerome Gundersen argued that businesses are hurting because Democratic Gov. Tony Evers shut them down, illegally. 

“It’s been shown throughout the world that people queue up and go in line one at a time to stores to keep the stores open, but we’re losing stores and we’re losing our downtown businesses that we’ve worked so hard to keep,” Gundersen said.

The state has been reopened since mid-May when Republicans in the state legislature sued Evers’ administration over the “Safer at Home” order. Though the Evers’ administration has just put a limit on indoor public gatherings capacity.

Speaking about police-related violence in Wisconsin, Gundersen said the state can’t allow lawlessness, and he believes too many repeat offenders in La Crosse are released quickly from jail.

Billings said she supports most law enforcement in the state, and also sees positive things in local courts.

Both candidates are concerned about gerrymandering to benefit the majority. 

Billings points out some of Wisconsin’s districts have odd shapes, saying the 3rd Congressional district is shaped like the letter Y.

Gundersen is hopeful that fair districts can be drawn after the election, and he says he was a co-sponsor of a bipartisan district proposal on the La Crosse County Board. 

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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    Tom Fitzpatrick

    October 13, 2020 at 12:27 pm

    It is shameful that the Republicans in the legislature have done nothing to help fight the Corona Virus, but instead have undermined Democratic attempts to fight it. We will never defeat this virus unless we as a nation have the courage to shut down for 2 to 3 weeks and starve it. Otherwise it will continue killing tens of thousands of Americans and making hundreds of thousands sick until we get a vaccine distributed to the entire country and that won’t happen until late 2021. Mr. Gundersen’s comments demonstrate that he would sadly follow the current Republican legislators and put partisan politics ahead of the health and welfare of Wisconsin residents. We don’t need more of that in the Wisconsin legislature.

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