State Assembly District 22 Candidate
Occupation: Wisconsin Director of New Schools
Development, The SEED Foundation
Membership in the Democratic Party: Yes. I have been actively and increasingly engaged in campaigns for progressive candidates for many years, helping candidates get elected at the local, state, and federal levels. Most recently, I have been a leader in Barack Obama's campaign in Wisconsin, and I serve on his National Finance Committee.
Who has endorsed you?
Several state legislators, including State Representatives Pedro Colon and Mark Pocan; State Senators Jim Sullivan and Jeff Plale; former Assembly Democratic Leader Shirley Krug; and a long list of 22nd Assembly District residents.
Why are you running for the state Assembly?
I'm running because of my strong belief that public service makes a huge difference in people's lives. In the legislature I will fight for high-quality education, accessible and affordable health care for every Wisconsinite, environmental stewardship, and regional economic growth.
In addition, I will fight the influence of special interests. I do not accept PAC money, and will always vote on the basis of my convictions, and in the interests of the constituents of the 22nd Assembly District.
I grew up in a family dedicated to hard work and public service. I was born and raised here, I've lived here since college, my wife Stacey and I are raising our three children here, and I am actively engaged in dealing with some of this community's major challenges.
I look forward to effectively representing the 22nd District with strong, progressive leadership.
What are your qualifications?
I have spent my professional career working both in business and in the nonprofit sector, and I understand fully the challenges of modernizing our economy and creating more family-sustainable jobs in Greater Milwaukee.
I am committed to a stronger Wisconsin, and have degrees from both UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee as well as an undergraduate degree from Brown University. I currently hold a top leadership position with a nonprofit working to develop solutions to some of Milwaukee's biggest educational challenges. My present civic involvements include COA Youth and Family Centers, the Wisconsin Historical Foundation, and the Milwaukee Jewish Day School, where I am Board President.
Due to my extensive civic involvement in both Milwaukee and Wisconsin, I've established strong relationships with key leaders and elective officials as we work together to solve some tough problems.
With my deep commitment to this community and my extensive experience in business and community service, I will be an effective voice for the 22nd District.
What are the biggest challenges facing your district?
Quality education for every student, providing every Wisconsin citizen with health care coverage, environmental stewardship of our beautiful natural resources, economic growth and job creation, and ethics reform are among the important issues I am discussing during this campaign.
In addition to issues specific to the 22nd District, I am also very focused on addressing the challenges of Greater Milwaukee. The Milwaukee region is the state's economic, civic, and cultural hub, and we need strong representation in Madison to make sure that our region's compelling challenges are properly addressed.
How will you ensure that Milwaukee has adequate state aid at the same time the state has a large structural budget deficit?
Local governments need to continue to be supported by state government, with a focus on delivering those services necessary to maintain our great quality of life in Wisconsin.
To provide that support, we need to start making tough budgetary choices in the State Assembly. We also need strong representatives from Southeastern Wisconsin in the legislature, who will fight to ensure that Milwaukee receives it fair share of state aid. Legislators from across the State need to know that Milwaukee drives Wisconsin's economy, and that investing in Milwaukee is also a smart investment for all Wisconsin residents. It's also important that state leaders actively fight for more federal tax dollars to come back to Wisconsin.
How will you spur job growth in the Milwaukee area?
We live in a rapidly modernizing world and must place a renewed emphasis on connectivity, education, workforce development, and business innovation as the key drivers of regional economic growth. As we look to advance our economic well-being, we must never stop reminding elected officials in Madison that Milwaukee is the key economic engine of Wisconsin and that investing in Milwaukee's future benefits both our region and the entire state.
I will use my private-sector management experience to help improve our regional economy so more young people can find good jobs and stay in the area. I also understand the importance of attracting start-up companies and knowledge-based businesses to improve Greater Milwaukee's global competitiveness. Additionally, I will work to protect Lake Michigan as a vital asset to our regional economy, and promote UW-Milwaukee as a world-class research institution to attract more cutting-edge businesses to our area.
Do you support a comprehensive health care plan like Healthy Wisconsin? Why? If not, what would you prefer?
It is a moral imperative to broaden insurance coverage to all citizens, and it is incumbent on Wisconsin's elected officials to institute a comprehensive health care law that properly addresses coverage, access, and cost. We have too many people who lack care and use emergency rooms, which drives up the cost for everyone else.
Therefore, I fully support legislation to provide affordable, comprehensive health coverage to every citizen in Wisconsin. I anticipate the legislature having a vigorous debate about the right mechanism to achieve full coverage, and believe that Healthy Wisconsin should be the starting point for that debate and for the action that the next legislature takes. The health care crisis needs to be addressed immediately.
I will also fight for an emphasis on preventive medicine, to help reduce costs and keep us all healthier.
Should private insurers be required to cover autism spectrum disorders and comprehensive mental health treatment?
This is a basic step to reduce long-term costs, and it is the only fair thing to do if we want to treat all Wisconsin citizens with basic human dignity.
Do you believe that the Milwaukee School Choice Program is a success? Why? Should it be expanded to other parts of the county or state? Should it be eliminated? Do you want to change the way the program is funded?
I have a strong commitment to public education, and I believe that taxpayer funds should not be spent on any private school that does not have the highest standards and necessary credentials. I favor increased transparency and accountability of any such school, and I wish that the recent move to expand the program had included more meaningful accountability measures. I oppose expanding the school choice program beyond the current numbers in Milwaukee or to other parts of the county and state.
More broadly, I am committed to reforming the way we fund public education across the state, and in changing the formula so that Milwaukee is no longer penalized.
Do you support a statewide smoking ban that includes bars and restaurants?
In the Assembly, I will lead the fight to pass a statewide ban on smoking in all workplaces, including bars, restaurants, businesses, and public buildings-lowering health risks and reducing the money spent on treating tobacco-related illnesses. Since the first day of my campaign, I have been out front on this issue, and it is one of the major public health priorities of my campaign.
Do you believe that the state should ease its restrictions on building more nuclear power plants?
No, I would generally oppose efforts to facilitate the construction of more nuclear power plants in our state.
I believe there are better ways to meet our energy needs, like promoting energy efficiency by investing in renewable energy technology, and providing Wisconsin residents with public transportation alternatives.
Should children of illegal immigrants who graduated from a Wisconsin high school be able to pay in-state tuition at a state college?
I am a strong supporter of immigrant rights and I believe that children should not be punished for the actions of their parents. If a child goes to a Wisconsin high school, graduates, and is qualified to enter the UW System, they should pay the same rate as their neighbors.
If Roe v. Wade were overturned by the Supreme Court, would you vote to allow a woman the right to choose an abortion?
Yes. I am strongly pro-choice, and I believe a woman has a fundamental right to choose an abortion. In the legislature, I will be an unwavering voice on this issue.
Would you vote to allow Milwaukee County to raise the sales tax one cent to provide property tax relief and pay for transit, parks and the arts?
We face enormous fiscal challenges in Milwaukee County. Homeowners here face an onerous property tax burden, and we need to seriously rethink how we fund our parks, the arts, and our transit system. I would therefore favor raising the sales tax if Milwaukee County voters vote in favor of this referendum.
Under this proposal, Milwaukee would get badly needed
tax relief from those who visit our city and benefit from our festivals, restaurants, museums, parks, and nightlife. Major cities like Chicago have much higher sales taxes, and are able to support local needs without relying solely on local residents.
I do have concerns about the potential impact of a slightly higher sales tax on the most vulnerable among us. Because lower-income people are hit much harder by sales taxes, any increase would have to exempt certain transactions, so as to make it less regressive.