Shilling, Kapanke, DeNure face off at UWL


Noah Finco

Chip DeNure (I), Sen. Jen Shilling (D) and Fmr. Sen. Dan Kapanke (R) face of in Cleary Center

Noah Finco, University Government Reporter

Wisconsin State Senate 32nd District Incumbent Democratic Senator Jennifer Shilling and her challengers, Republican Former Sen. Dan Kapanke and Integrity Party Candidate Chip DeNure, clashed Tuesday night at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. In the hour-long debate held in UWL’s Clearly Alumni Center, the candidates discussed topics ranging from college affordability and UW System budget cuts to Planned Parenthood funding.

The debate opened with a question about the candidate’s plan to address college affordability and cuts to the UW System. “I am not in favor of more tax dollars going to the universities,” answered DeNure, a La Crosse resident and former La Crosse Mayoral candidate. “I believe the system will adjust, if it does not, I would end the tuition freeze and make students pay for it.”

Dan Kapanke, former senator for the 32nd district and former 3rd District Representative candidate, was optimistic about the future of the UW System and the tuition freezes. “We’re doing very well despite those cuts,” stated Kapanke “I would continue the tuition freeze, it has saved the average student $6,300.”

Senator Shilling, who has served the 32nd district since 2011 and previously as assemblywomen of the 95th district, addressed her concerns with growing student loan debt. “We need to allow for student loan debt to be refinanced,” proclaimed Shilling “Despite the tuition freezes, students are graduating our universities with crippling debt.”

The UWL Student Association asked the candidates what they would do to fight for UWL students in the biennial budget if elected. Kapanke spoke in favor of the College Affordability Act that was passed last session. “This act was very beneficial for students,” stated Kapanke “I would work to continue the work there but also push to get students out in four years.”

Senator Shilling states she would push for student loan refinancing, appeal to the building commission for a new residence hall and work towards greater compensation for university staff and faculty. “It’s very uncertain this state’s future in higher education,” said Shilling, “I would fight for additional investment in the UW System.”

DeNure agreed with Senator Shilling on the prospect of refinancing student loans. “Bring the rates down,” proclaimed DeNure, “If more money is needed for the university we remove the tuition freeze.”

Tensions boiled over when a question about Planned Parenthood was raised. DeNure agreed with legislation that blocked federal funding for Planned Parenthood and told of the “nasty information” that has come out about the organization. Kapanke agreed, and stated “Animal’s treat their young better than we do at times,” which yielded a reaction from the crowd.

Senator Shilling quickly replied saying “There we go again, when asked about women’s health we immediately go to abortions. Not to mammograms and cancer screens that Planned Parenthood provides.”

The candidates were each given a one minute closing statement. “I stand for the will of the people,” stated Chip DeNure and he continued unexpectedly saying “Dan Kapanke stands for the will of the people when it comes to the North-South corridor.”

Senator Shilling beckoned the audience to join her in “rejecting big business and special interest groups and supporting middle class families with lowering child care costs and supporting education.”

Dan Kapanke closed the night by asking the crowd to “come together and market the great things the 32nd district has to offer.” All three candidates will be on the ballot for early voting and on election day Tuesday, November 8.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email