What are you goals for your first term in office should you be elected?
Thank you to PROFS for providing this opportunity to discuss ways we can protect and defend UW-Madison faculty, students and staff and make a stronger funding commitment to higher education in the state. As State Senator, I will work to implement bold, high-road, progressive policies that prioritize workers’ rights, teachers rights and public health; defend the UW; protect women’s rights and equal rights for all; and work towards a long-term Wisconsin Green New Deal.
For example, I believe we can come out of this crisis healthier, stronger, and more resilient as a university community, but only if we implement an economic recovery plan that works for all and prioritizes worker health and public safety, provides affordable health care, paid sick, family and medical leave, and direct economic relief.
My goal is to make the state a model for high-road practices and provide incentives to those that adopt them and enact legislation requiring them. Providing a livable fair wage, family-friendly benefits, work-life balance, education and technical training and a “just transition”, particularly for women, immigrants, and people of color, will help reduce social/economic disparities and make an economic recovery that works for all possible.
Please describe your qualifications and what sets you apart from your fellow candidates.
As a locally elected official, environmental nonprofit leader, small business owner and married father of four college-age children, I bring a uniquely diverse experience working with stakeholders on issues for over two decades in the 26th Senate District that will allow me to build the coalitions we need to protect and advance the University of Wisconsin-Madison and win back a Democratic majority.
I also serve on the Joint Campus Area Committee that reviews all UW-Madison building projects and have worked extensively with the UW Morgridge Center for Public Service, Badger Volunteers on numerous programs and initiatives.
I also understand the importance of listening and will work effectively with PROFS legislative representative and administrator to enact the high-road, progressive policies that advance the University’s strategic priorities, initiatives, and the Wisconsin Idea.
UW-Madison is situated in the 26th Senate District, but its role as an economic engine benefits the entire state. Please tell us how you would represent the university in the legislature and make sure your colleagues from outside Dane County understand the statewide benefit of a strong UW-Madison?
I look forward to working closely with the University to advance strategic priorities, initiatives and messaging that defends the UW’s budget priorities, restores funding levels, and eliminates staff furloughs to protect jobs, research, and grant funding.
My advocacy for UW-Madison faculty, students and staff will be stronger than the opposition lobbying against it because of my background as a locally elected official, environmental nonprofit leader and small business owner that make me a highly credible messenger on the economic case and statewide benefits of a strong UW-Madison.
State funding for higher education has fallen dramatically over the past generation, resulting in a dependence on tuition and fundraising to replace decreased state support. The ongoing tuition freeze coupled with several state budget cuts has forced UW-Madison to make serious cuts, while other UW System campuses face devastating budget shortfalls. How would you address these concerns if elected?
I will apply my extensive management background and experience as a local official to make sure state funding for higher education is restored and our faculty and staff are compensated as valued partners and will defend the UW System from future cuts by building a stronger funding commitment to higher education by the state.
UW-Madison as an institution understands diversity to be a value that is inextricable from its other values, including educational and research excellence. Tell us about your legislative priorities on diversity, racial justice, and their relation to the values you hold related to higher education.
I stand for equal pay for women and a woman’s right to choose and equal rights for all our LGBTQ+ community members. I will also stand against intolerance and hate and the rhetoric and policies that target immigrants, refugees, and people of all faiths in our community. Expanding minority faculty and student recruitment and retention is a priority I will also support.
A primary goal of our campaign is to enact high-road progressive policies that create a more just, equitable, sustainable, and inclusive economy that works for all. We cannot achieve that goal amid the ongoing problems of unequal justice and police misconduct that is often racially motivated. Therefore, our campaign also supports Justice in Policing reforms to ensure greater transparency, accountability, and justice for all.
A budget repair bill and the 2021-23 biennial budget loom large and the financial impact of COVID-19 is enormous. What are your funding priorities in the upcoming biennium?
Dismantle all the traditional economic development incentives and state spending that benefits large, non-local multinational corporations like Foxconn and redirect savings to local businesses and a stronger funding commitment for the university’s operating budget. Studies show locally owned businesses generate two to four times the jobs, income, and wealth of non-local businesses and that will help the region’s economy and the state budget recover more quickly.
We also need a more fair and equitable tax system by ending unaffordable tax incentives including the $100+ million in credits that will go to Wisconsin filers who earned over $3 million last year.