Newcomer Szerlong provides the challenge

By Todd Mishler

Copy Editor

Democrat Don Vruwink traveled this road only two years ago during his first run for state office.

On Nov. 6, the retired educator and coach again squares off against a twentysomething Republican challenger in the race for Wisconsin’s 43rd Assembly District seat.

Vruwink won 56.4 percent of the vote in defeating Allison Hetz in 2016 in a district that includes Whitewater Township in Walworth County and portions of Jefferson, Rock and Dane counties.

This time Vruwink, 66, faces fellow Milton resident Gabriel Szerlong, who graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in 2017.

Besides his vast knowledge of the state’s education system from four decades as an instructor and experience serving in municipal government, Vruwink said he’s much better equipped to tackle a second term after working on six legislative committees, including Agriculture, Tourism, Education and Colleges and Universities.

“It was a great learning experience, and I was fortunate to serve on committees focusing on areas that I have a lot of background with, so I could speak to many things,” he said. “Otherwise, I asked a lot of questions and really tried to reach across the aisle to get sponsors.”

Szerlong said those efforts didn’t create many results, noting that only one of the 11 bills Vruwink introduced passed.

But the latter defended his attempts at the state Capitol, which are much more difficult you’re in the minority and the majority party controls all three branches of government.

“It’s tough to even get bills introduced, nonetheless passed, especially in your first term,” he said. “But again, I did my best to work with my colleagues across the aisle.”

Szerlong fired another barb toward his opponent while saying he’s excited about how he has approached his campaign.

“I’ve had a fantastic time going door to door and meeting people and going to places I’ve never been to or even knew existed,” Szerlong said. “I have been doing this since June and have loved every minute. People don’t want to come to you; you have to go to them and have a conversation.

“And I’ve heard from many people that my opponent has not been out in the communities, and that’s one of the reasons I’m really stepping up,” Szerlong added.

Vruwink strongly objected to Szerlong’s assertion.

Read more of what the candidates had to say in a detailed preview story in the Nov. 1 Whitewater Register.


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