Q. What relevant experience do you bring to the office you seek?
As a sixth-generation resident of the area, product of the Eau Claire public schools and UWEC, I have deep connections with our community. As a former high school social studies teacher, high school coach and school board member, I value public service and community engagement.
These experiences have given me a deep understanding of how government should work and the needs of students and families. On the ECASD School Board, I made tough, independent decisions. As a lawyer, I have learned to vigorously advocate for others. As a plaintiff on the Whitford gerrymandering case, I have learned to use my voice to fight to defend democracy. My education and experiences have prepared me to understand complicated issues and represent the 68th District from day one.
Q. The American Society of Civil Engineers says Wisconsin motorists spend $2.0-billion per year in costs from driving on roads in need of repairs. Name a specific measure you would support that would bring in more money for road projects. We can fund infrastructure and other necessities by making them a priority instead of using public dollars for private corporations. Transportation infrastructure is an essential public good that needs to be funded adequately and equitably throughout the state. User fees, in the form of gas taxes and registration fees, should be indexed for inflation. It does not make sense to keep gas taxes locked in at a set amount (cents) per gallon without other sources of funding for transportation.
Q. State aid to local school districts has been reduced, or remained flat for the last few years. Leaders of local school districts say that has resulted in stagnant teacher pay and reductions in educational programs that students need and want. Some worry that we are losing our best and brightest teachers to neighboring states. So many local school districts are now going to voters, asking them to pass referendums that would allow these schools to raise local property taxes to make up the difference. In your opinion, is this the best and most fair way to fund these projects? If so, what is the role of the state to provide further assistance.? If not, what, specifically, would you do to provide more state aid to local schools and where would that money come from? Public education should be our first funding priority. Each and every Wisconsin student deserves an excellent education, regardless of their zip code. Relying on local referendums creates more inequality. When adjusted for inflation, we are still not spending as much on education as we were eight years ago. That is unacceptable. Most of our communities have chosen to raise our own property taxes, through referendums, to make up for that loss of state funding. This demonstrates how strongly Wisconsin citizens value local schools. The state should work toward the 2/3 funding of public education that was promised under Governor Thompson. We could start by considering State Superintendent Tony Evers’ plan, Fair Funding for our Future. Since the state cannot afford two systems, we should phase out the voucher program which has not provided better outcomes than public schools.
Q. What makes you the best candidate to represent your district? In addition to my experience described above, I will be an independent, strong-willed advocate. I promise I will never be a rubber-stamp. Since I am not running for my ‘dream job’, my only agenda is to do the right thing for our community. I am not afraid to stand up for what is right or to my own party leadership.
Q. What do you think should be the top priorities for the state and your area over the next decade? If elected to office, how would you advance those priorities?
My first priority is to pass nonpartisan redistricting so that fair maps ensure voters are choosing their representatives instead of representatives choosing their voters. With competitive districts, elections and candidates will be responsive to voters. Fair maps will encourage us to talk to each other again and compromise to find practical solutions to all our pressing issues including education, affordable health care, infrastructure funding, and environmental protections.