What role does the Lieutenant Governor have in promoting the state – what new areas do we need to explore in promotion of business, residency, and tourism?
As Lieutenant Governor, I will be a strong partner to Governor Evers and his administration. I would look forward to hearing from the Governor regarding the areas on which he’d like me to focus my skills and experience. As an immigrant, and as a member of Wisconsin’s growing Hmong Community, I would advocate for a role in helpful in ensuring Wisconsin is a welcoming place to immigrants. Our policies – for example on driver’s licenses – should be a signal to immigrants that we value their contributions and potential to help enrich the culture and energize the economy of our State.
As Lieutenant Governor two areas I want to focus on are entrepreneurship and the environment. Wisconsin has one of the lowest rates for startup businesses/entrepreneurs in the country. Increasing business mentorship programs, access to startup funding in the form of grants and investment capital, and supporting and expanding existing regional economic development programs will enable more Wisconsinites to launch and grow successful businesses.
Addressing health care costs - one of the biggest concerns identified by those thinking of starting a business – will help remove barriers to new business development. Working together with public and private entities, we can capitalize on federal, state and private funding and programs to create an environment that not only allows current residents to remain in Wisconsin earning family supporting wages, but attracts new residents to our state.
How can you build on the advances made in Mandela Barnes’ administration in the areas of sustainability and green infrastructure?
My background and experience will enable me to build on that legacy. As an avid outdoors person, I know firsthand what happens if we do not take action to protect the environment. As a scientist I understand the science of global warming and I know it is an existential threat to our world. We must reduce our CO2 emissions.
I have worked with communities, and communities of color, on issues including PCBs and PFAS. I led an initiative to help address PCB’s in the drinking water in Madison. I also successfully advocated for the Madison Water Utility to create a comprehensive plan to address well contamination. I oversaw the operations of a building that was constructed to Platinum LEED standards and that included solar, geothermal heat to heat concrete floor, and the capture of rainwater from the roof of the building into 20,000-gallon underground tank.
We need to continue to ignite the green economy including job creation through manufacturing wind turbines and solar panels in Wisconsin. Wisconsin, and the US, should be a leader in fighting climate change. I look forward to working with Governor Evers to build Wisconsin’s sustainable future for our children and grandchildren.
Our current Lt. Governor, Mandela Barnes, has championed Wisconsin’s environment, and I would like to continue to build upon his work. My family and I are avid hikers, bikers and campers. We love Wisconsin’s environment and I want to make sure that we protect our state’s valuable natural resources. As Lieutenant Governor I will to work to safeguard our state’s unique ecosystems, upon which so much of our economy, health, recreation, and general quality of life depend.
As Wisconsin begins to implement and allocate infrastructure funds, I believe it is critical that we do so in a way that doesn’t just repair the infrastructure from our past, but anticipates 21st century infrastructure needs. I personally drive an electric vehicle and know that in order for Wisconsin to make this a realistic option for residents, we need to expand Wisconsin’s EV infrastructure network, and prepare our workforce for electrification jobs and career pathways.
Additionally, we need to address critical water infrastructure needs and drinking water improvements, and storm and wastewater improvements; invest in mass transit and mobility solutions; improve state and local parks and trails to enhance tourism and boost the outdoor recreation industry; eliminate inequities in access to broadband for households, farmers and other small businesses; and focus on housing in underserved rural and urban areas of our state.
In what additional policy areas can the Lieutenant Governor lead and have an impact of value to Wisconsin voters, recognizing that the needs in rural and urban areas sometimes but not always overlap?
In addition we must protect our democracy. It is our responsibility to advocate for policies and strategy that expand access to voting rights, including, expanded early voting and highlighting inequities and inequalities of re-entry restoration. Wisconsin deserves leadership who will center building relationships with our communities. Creating collective strategies developed and executed by the impacted.
There is one very important issue affecting both rural and urban areas and on which the Lieutenant Governor can have an impact. Access to broadband is no longer something just “nice” to have: it is a necessity for businesses, students, and employers throughout Wisconsin. Estimates are that about 1.3 million Wisconsin households either don’t have access to or cannot afford high speed internet. The problem exists in both rural and urban areas.
Both Republicans and Democrats in the legislature recognize the need for the State to invest in this area and to create public-private partnerships do so. My background and career have shown I can bring people together to find common ground, to develop collaborative solutions, and to solve tough problems. I would make broadband a public utility.
Additionally, there is a childcare shortage throughout Wisconsin. Research shows that for every dollar invested in high-quality early childhood education, society gains up to $7.30 in economic returns over the long term. Because of my expertise and passion in early education, Governor Evers appointed me to his Early Childhood Advisory Committee and his transition team on What’s Best for Kids Advisory Council focused on policy related to children and family.
With my strong background in healthcare, ranging from direct patient care to executive level healthcare management, I know we must address the caregiver shortage that is affecting Wisconsin and our nation. As a nurse, I believe that no one should have to go into debt just to get the medical care they need. In the Assembly, I led the fight to expand BadgerCare, and as Lieutenant Governor I will continue to fight for affordable, quality health care access for all. As a public health professional, I view many issues through the lens of public health, including gun violence and community safety, mental health and substance abuse, and climate change. The pandemic once again exposed the disparities in access to care and the inequities that exist within our healthcare system. As Lieutenant Governor I will work every day to address the unique challenges residents of our state face in accessing the health care they need, and will fight every day to improve the quality of life for every person in Wisconsin.
What in your background and value system makes you the Lieutenant Governor that Wisconsin needs now?
I will lift up the voices of all Wisconsinites to make our State stronger, fairer, and more welcoming. I am a first generation American. I was born in Laos in 1971 during the Vietnam War. My father was a schoolteacher before having to join the army and my mother took care of the family farm while raising my five siblings and me. Because of the Hmong’s alliance with the United States during the war, we were targeted for genocide. My family fled our home.
After living in a refugee camp in Thailand, we emigrated to America. On December 12, 1976, we landed in Des Moines, Iowa and 10 years later became United States citizens. I put myself through college and graduate school, earning my master’s in Physics at DePaul University. My wife and I have three children, two in college and one in high school.
My children are living proof that the American dream endures. My values are Wisconsin values: hard work, respect for your neighbors, faith, and a commitment to fair play and equal opportunity. Those are the values, and that is the life experience, that makes me the Lt. Governor Wisconsin needs now.
I was born and raised in Wisconsin. I love Wisconsin. My roots run deep with grandparents who operated a small dairy farm in Richland County where my mom went to school in a one room school house through 8th grade. I still have family in Wisconsin and Minnesota that operate family farms, and I want to ensure our rural and farm communities have access to resource to continue the generations long legacy of sustainable farming. I moved away for college, but returned to help care for my father who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in his 60’s. He was a Vietnam veteran, and even with my healthcare background it was challenging to get him the care he needed. I want to make sure no other family in Wisconsin has to face those same barriers to accessing the care they or their loved ones have earned and deserve. I feel fortunate to have been raised in a union values family and know that family-supporting wages are the foundation for a vibrant middle class in Wisconsin. As Lieutenant Governor, I will support investments in technical assistance, and workforce and talent development to foster entrepreneur and small business growth and success in Wisconsin. My husband and I knew we wanted to raise our family in Wisconsin, to have our children experience all that Wisconsin has to offer. I feel fortunate to have our children in a public education system where they can grow and succeed. A fully funded public education system is critical to creating thriving communities. As Lieutenant Governor, I will advocate for birth through college opportunities so that all students and families have equitable access to education throughout their life, and ensure that every child has access to the social support and mental health resources they need to live healthy lives. I believe that my values and experience enable me to be a strong voice for all Wisconsinites.
Why do you feel that you would be Governor Evers most effective partner in winning the 2022 election?
Many people urged me to run for Lt. Governor because the combination of my leadership experience, lived experience, and ability to organize and energize voters make me the strongest candidate. As an executive, I’ve led diverse teams and created public-private partnerships. As a small business owner, I met a payroll and learned firsthand about what it takes to make a business succeed. I’ve made change happen at the national, state, and local level. My career has been about making communities stronger.
Currently, I am the CEO of the Hmong Institute, a non-profit that provides training and education to improve health care and educational achievements for communities of color throughout Wisconsin.
My background also includes leading community development and promise zone initiatives as well as overseeing outreach for a cutting-edge program at UW Madison designed to help eliminate poverty. Voters are excited by my candidacy. Our campaign is strong and inclusive. I know how to work with people to get things done and solve tough problems. I am a tenacious fighter who will stand up for our shared values. I want to put these skills to work for the people of Wisconsin and to ensure we re-elect Governor Evers.
Voters across Wisconsin consistently identify education and healthcare as two primary issues facing residents. Governor Evers’ strong education background and my broad experience in healthcare is a strong combination. I will not only be a strong partner on the campaign trail, but also in the Executive office to help lead our state alongside Governor Evers. Additionally, I was one of the few state candidates in the country to flip a seat in 2020. I know how to reach voters and win in a purple district, and I know the work it’s going to take to win in a purple state this year. We’ve been building a strong statewide campaign infrastructure since November 2021, and have earned the endorsement of more than 60 state and local elected officials, including 13 of my colleagues in the Assembly and Senate, representing 2/3 of Wisconsin. We have a full-time organizing staff talking with voters across the state, making sure they are ready to vote. I have already traveled to or met with voters in the majority of Wisconsin counties, and our campaign will continue to engage and organize in all 72 counties to turnout voters for Democrats up and down the ballot in August and November.
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