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Candidates for Milwaukee County Executive go head-to-head in debate

NOW: Candidates for Milwaukee County Executive go head-to-head in debate

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Wisconsin Policy Forum held a debate Tuesday night, with three of the four candidates on the ballot for Milwaukee County Executive -- David Crowley was unable to make it.

Former State Senator Jim Sullivan was also a part of the debate, despite being removed from the ballot. 

The debate held at Wisconsin Club's "City Club," touched on issues surrounding county services and financial challenges. 

The policy forum also asked about the Wisconsin Election Commission's decision in removing two candidates from the ballot.

Theo Lipscomb, who filed the complaint to the Wisconsin Elections Commission against candidates Jim Sullivan and Bryan Kennedy, said everyone needs to follow the law. 

"I'm appealing this, because I do respect the process, and more than 5,000 Milwaukee County voters had signed nomination papers so that we could be on the ballot," said Sullivan, who's appealing the decision. 

The debate brought hundreds of people. The forum asked how each candidate would manage county services with an already tight budget. 

State Senator Chris Larson, who ran for County Executive four years ago, said he would tackle it head-on. 

"The need for our parks, if we finally don't get dedicated funding for transit, if we're not addressing homelessness -- both chronically and family and otherwise -- if we're not doing those now, it's going to fall on our kids," he said. 

The forum challenged candidates on ways Milwaukee County can add more revenue. 

Candidate Theo Lipscomb, who serves as the County Board Chairman, says a Fair Deal bill increasing sales tax to lower property taxes would help. 

"Fair Deal is a solution that's at scale. It addresses the fact that we do have among the highest property taxes, that we have relatively low sales tax compared to other communities around the country, but that fundamentally, we need new revenue."

With Milwaukee County's deep financial challenges, the forum asked how each candidate would address the county's millions in deficit. 

Businesswoman and candidate Purnima Nath says she would look at each expense, line by line. 

"In order to implement any solution which is efficient and effective, we need to start from ground zero, and that's where I'm gonna start,' she said. 

The spring primary will be held on Feb. 18. The primary will narrow it down to two candidates for the spring election held on April 7.

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