Two Republicans are seeking the state office in the 10th Senate District. The candidates are Rep. Rob Stafsholt, R-New Richmond, and Cherie Link, R-Somerset.

The primary election takes place Aug. 11, and the winner will face incumbent Sen. Patty Schachtner, D-Somerset, in the general election Nov. 3. The district covers a large region of northwest Wisconsin and includes parts of Burnett, Dunn, Pierce, Polk and St. Croix counties.

Stafsholt and Link recently answered questions from the Leader-Telegram regarding their campaigns and priorities.

Rob Stafsholt

Why are you running for state Senate?

Voters in the 10th District need an effective voice in Madison who can both represent the best interests of this region and get things done. Unfortunately, that isn’t happening right now. I’ve decided to give up my Assembly seat to help return a proven conservative to the district.

What makes you uniquely qualified for public office?

I think things like being a father and combining that with my private sector experience, both running small businesses and working on my family farm, provides the skills needed to effectively address the issues facing our region. And my proven conservative voting in the state Legislature has demonstrated that I have the record to back up my rhetoric. Combined, those have made me an effective member of the Assembly, and they’ll help Republicans win back the 10th Senate District in November. I’m honored to have the support of (former) Gov. Scott Walker, (former) Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, and conservative leaders from across the region.

If elected, what will be your priorities during your first year as a senator?

I think this election cycle as I walk through the communities and talk with people, it is evident that our top priority must be getting our economy back up and running, getting people back to work, but doing it in a way that is safe for seniors and our most vulnerable.

What are the most common concerns you’re hearing from constituents about dealing with COVID-19?

I think it is that there seems to be a lot of confusion as to what to believe, what is factually correct. I think overwhelmingly people want to make the best decisions for their families and they are having a hard time getting straight facts to use to make their decisions.

What businesses and institutions should be prioritized to reopen during COVID-19?

Every single business and institution is a priority to someone. I do not believe it is the role of government to pick winners and losers. Unfortunately, that is what happened during the shutdown and it was heart-wrenching to hear those stories as my constituents called into my office in complete desperation.

What should the state do to help individuals and communities financially recover from COVID-19?

Government should never impose policies that restrict the ability of its citizens to succeed, and we must have a reasonable approach that allows us to function while providing care for the elderly and most vulnerable. As a sitting lawmaker, my main job is to listen to concerns and to direct my constituents and business owners to the resources that are available to them. That’s what I’ve done throughout my time in the state Assembly, and it’s what I’ll continue to do.

Cherie Link

Why are you running for state Senate?

My unique experience as a business owner, foster care provider and mother of two children at UW schools provides me the insight to effectively serve the 10th Senate District. I have a passion for the families of western Wisconsin succeeding; I am an outsider that truly understands my entire district and can represent the vast needs throughout our district. I am not running to have a title. I saw problems and I wanted to see them fixed. I will bring new ideas, energy and fresh perspective to Madison.

What makes you uniquely qualified for public office?

I grew up in Polk County and have lived in St. Croix County for 19 years. Our district includes blue collar workers to business owners, students to seniors, and our hardworking farmers; all deserve to be represented in Madison by someone who understands their unique needs. I am rooted in my community and have volunteered for our church, school, community and chamber. I have lived my life by my conservative principles by being committed to making a difference long before I ran for Senate. As a business owner, I am acutely aware of the need to budget wisely and will carry that experience to Madison.

If elected, what will be your priorities during your first year as a senator?

Getting our economy back up with providing good jobs and seeing the private sector expand; protecting the taxpayer, not increasing taxes and retaining levy limits; and protecting life and ensuring government is not funding abortions.

What are the most common concerns you’re hearing from constituents about dealing with COVID-19?

Many are frustrated with our governor’s one-size-fits all mandates. Northwest Wisconsin does not have the cases we see in our large cities. Our businesses have struggled through this pandemic and have put policies in place to protect their employees and customers; they should have the authority to continue that. I support liability protections. We have so many businesses that are just hanging on by a thread and we need to ensure businesses aren’t afraid to be open, as our economy and community viability are dependent on it. Schools reopening in-person in the fall has been another consistent concern. Our families understand the importance and value of kids returning to school and feel students that may have immunocompromised situations should also have the freedom to continue virtual learning.

What businesses and institutions should be prioritized to reopen during COVID-19?

We can’t continue to pick winners and losers and choose who is “essential.” The science has shown that the virus is no more apt to spread shopping at a big box store as it is to shop at your locally owned small business. Every business owner should have the authority to open and operate as they see fit to serve their customers and community safely.

What should the state do to help individuals and communities financially recover from COVID-19?

Many people that applied for unemployment two months ago are still waiting for reimbursement, while some government employees were sent home per the governor’s “safer-at-home” order with no work and a full paycheck. We need to evaluate some government agencies that need to be much more efficient to help our friends and neighbors. Our governor and/or an unelected bureaucrat should not make sweeping mandates that can further harm a business’s ability to be open and allow local control, with input from residents, in regards to our communities.