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Warren Petryk

Name: Warren Petryk

Age: 57

Party: Republican

Hometown: Pleasant Valley, Eau Claire County

Family: Single

Education: Boyceville High School; bachelor's degree in philosophy, minor in music, University-Eau Claire (1978)

Professional background: Small business owner, performer and co-founder of "The Memories," an entertainment group, since 1972; community relations coordinator for United Cerebral Palsy of West Central Wisconsin, 15 years

Previous elected office: Wisconsin Assembly since 2010

Warren Petryk is a musician and an entertainer -- a communicator who believes he has found his calling in government.

Petryk said he has always focused on practical solutions and positive results, goals he learned from his dad, a shop teacher who served as mayor of Boyceville for one term.

"He taught me so much about getting people to sit down, look at a situation and get things done," said Petryk. "It's in my blood. I feel like I've been called to this job."

He cites as a qualification his experience as a private businessman -- he helped found the Memories, an entertainment group, 40 years ago and still manages it. He also worked for 15 years as community relations coordinator for United Cerebral Palsy of West Central Wisconsin.

He said the state needs to reform how it does business so it's not spending more than it takes in. The task now is "how to move the state forward in a responsible fashion," said Petryk, adding that the current Legislature and administration have already started that process.

"We've gotten our fiscal house in order," he said of the last legislative session. "We acted responsibly."

For the second year in a row, Wisconsin state government has been able to add money to its "rainy day" fund, noted Petryk. With a surplus of $342 million in its general account, the administration put $109 million into the fund.

As for the future, Petryk said emphatically, "I will not support tax increases or fee increases of any kind."

When he sought election two years ago, Wisconsin was seeing massive job losses in the private sector and state government had a $3.6 million budget hole, said Petryk.

"I ran because of a failed management system and a failed Legislature," said Petryk. "I got fed up."

Petryk said his top priority now is creating jobs in the private sector and that means building a better business climate.

While citizens can't depend on government for everything, they should be able to depend on it to keep the infrastructure sound, insisted Petryk. He also highlighted the need to strengthen agriculture, education and human services.

Republican lawmakers took a lot of heat over Act 10, the law that repealed most collective bargaining for local and school employees and is now being challenged in court.

"I did it out of respect to the local governments," said Petryk of his support for Act. 10. He said school, town, village and city administrators told him they had control over only 15 percent of their budgets and wanted more say in setting their budgets.

Civil service rules protect every employee, and workers can still choose to belong to a union, said Petryk.

Judy Wiff

Judy Wiff has been regional editor for RiverTown’s Wisconsin newspapers since 1996. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and sociology from UW-River Falls. She has worked as a reporter for several weekly newspapers in Wisconsin.