What issues concern you the most in this newly created district, considering its wide-ranging needs and priorities?
The state imposes mandates and restrictions on local governments. The end result of the state’s “big brother” tactics to deal with cities, villages and school districts creates the funding and equity issues we see in a district like the 10th. Some municipalities are equipped to deal with the lack of shared aid, while others struggle to comply with state mandates and to deal with the needs of their residents.
Restoring the state shared revenue percentages and lifting restrictions on cities, villages and school boards will allow local elected officials to do their jobs and to better meet local needs.
First, and foremost, this district needs a state representative that has personal and professional experience with working across silos and communities. My work with Urban Underground and Rep. David Bowen has spanned Glendale, Shorewood, and Milwaukee to increase youth leadership, community engagement, and equity. The policy issues that I have experience with, and am passionate about, are relevant to diverse groups of voters and stakeholders. The solutions to those issues rely on diverse groups working together.
Once elected, I think District 10 will be an example of cross-sector collaboration and policy development that will be known across the state. It's what I've been doing since age 13, based on my values and vision for healthy intergenerational communities. Specifically, better policy to support youth, seniors, sustainability, education, municipal shared revenue and County services are opportunities I will look for in Madison.
Milwaukee County has experienced severe health inequality in many ways; how has it impacted this particular area and how do you think we should mitigate disparity in health outcomes?
As a Mayor, I have worked with County Executive Crowley in his efforts to make Milwaukee County the healthiest county in Wisconsin by achieving racial equity. When we work to dismantle institutional and structural racism, foster greater inclusion, and fund health programming that provides for those who have the greatest need, we can close the disparity gap in health outcomes. This program is making great strides in the county. A model like what we are doing in Milwaukee County taken to a state level is the prototype to mitigate disparities among other populations in the state—African American, Latino, Tribal, et al.
I am a stronger candidate in this area. We can't always look for more money- first we have to leverage the available resources by increasing diversity in representation and community leadership. All residents can see the issues from their perspectives, the people most impacted have the most insight to offer. I am experienced in this type of policy and budget development. While I plan to fight for equitable policy in Madison with my colleagues, I will be an accountability partner locally to ensure that ongoing education and action leads to better outcomes.
I was 12 votes short of being elected as County Board Supervisor- the years I spent preparing for that role will allow me to work strategically with counties to leverage all available resources for health, equity, and safety in our district, and across the state. My focus on social determinants of health will inform policy that I introduce and support so that all communities have access to affordable health care and a clean environment.
What can the legislature do to aid economic and small business development in this district?
I serve on the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District Commission. MMSD policy prioritizes small, women-owned and minority-owned business enterprises (SWMBE) in its contracting. Creating state policies that encourage the same prioritization will assist the growth of small businesses. In addition, the state should utilize the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation as a type of state-run Small Business Association. Instead of handouts to large corporations, WEDC should prioritize SWMBE, as well.
Wisconsin has some strong policy in this area, TIF law, in particular. Local resistance to change, and unproductive partnerships or lack of coordination can prevent districts from taking advantage of these opportunities. It's obviously the Legislature's job to pass policy, however, it's my job to make sure that my district knows how to access the allocated funds or tools to support the local economy. I have seen state electeds be effective in advocating at both levels and that is what I will do. I have relationships throughout the region to support non-traditional partnerships to address some of the barriers for small businesses, workforce development, and equitable and sustainable economic development. I have collaborated with every type of elected official on advancing equitable communities. I have been part of very diverse teams without feeling the need to call attention to that. It's natural for me.
It is very likely that anyone elected to represent this district will vote in a similar manner to other candidates. What can you particularly do to make an impact in the legislature and the state, given that Democrats are in a rather powerless minority?
I have built relationships with Republicans in the legislature in order to get things for the City of Glendale. As an active member of the League of Municipalities, I have worked with Mayors in both parties. I plan to engage other local elected officials (mayors, alders, county supervisors, school board members, et al) serving in the Assembly and work with members of both parties to pursue issues of local impact. I believe I can build coalitions to make bipartisan changes in those areas.
It's not only about how we vote, it's about how we work and share leadership to arrive at the best outcome. I actually would argue that my particular experience doing policy advocacy at the local, state, and national levels of government provides a niche in the assembly to introduce legislation that brings innovation to the state of Wisconsin. I’ve worked with Legislators throughout the country that have passed legislation with bipartisan support that have been effective in equitably impacting their municipalities, states, and our country.
This is possible in our state because there is bi-partisan support for climate action in our state as it relates to community solar, the conversion of greenhouse gasses into renewable energy, and building a realistic green career pipeline in our state. What’s missing is a racial equity lens.
What I’ll bring to the state capital that no one else in this race can bring is a bold progressive strategy to build diverse bi-partisan coalitions to take action that will benefit all Wisconsinites and ensure the working-class and other marginalized communities are protected. Lastly when actions that attack our most marginalized communities are being taken whether that is on the legislative floor or directly in our District, I will be there as stakeholder and effective consensus builder. This is the kind of leader I am.
Do you like this page?