State Assembly District 22 Candidate
Occupation: Assistant Professor at Columbia College of Nursing (last lecture July 17, 2008 - guest lecturer in fall 2008)
Membership in the Democratic Party:yes
For how long?: Always a Democrat, official membership in Milwaukee County Democratic Party 2007
Who has endorsed you?
Peter Bock, former Representative, 7th Assembly District; Gerry Broderick, Milwaukee County Supervisor; Nancy Bornstein, Shorewood School Board; John Chisholm, Milwaukee County D.A.; Kathleen Falk, Dane County Executive; Jason Fields, Representative, 11th Assembly District; Marilyn Franklin, Nicolet School Board; Representative Tamara Grigsby 18th District; Nick Hassler, Glendale-River Hills School Board; Mark Huber, Former Whitefish Bay Plan Commission; Willie Johnson, Jr., Milwaukee County Supervisor; Bryan Kennedy, Glendale School Board; Fred Kessler, Representative, 12th Assembly District; John La Fave, Register of Deeds; Chris Larson, Milwaukee County Supervisor; Jennifer Morales, Milwaukee School Board; Paul Nannis, former Milwaukee Health Commissioner; Barbara Notestein, former Representative, 19th Assembly District; Jim Phillips, Whitefish Bay School Board; Penny Podell, former Milwaukee County Supervisor; Roger Quindel, Milwaukee County Supervisor; Judy Robson, Senator, 15th District; Thomas Seery, former Representative, 7th and 13th Assembly District; Tom Scrivner, former Whitefish Bay School Board member; Julie Siegel, Whitefish Bay Trustee; Representative Christine Sinicki 20th District; Lena Taylor, 4th Senate District; Representative Barbara Toles 17th District; Barbara Ulichny, former State Senator, 7th Senate District; Margaret Wrenn-Hickey, Shorewood Trustee
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME PEOPLE Committee); American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Local 212; American Federation of Teachers-Wisconsin; International Federation of Professional & Technical Engineers (AFL-CIO & CLC); Milwaukee Deputy Sheriffs Association; Progressive Majority; Service Employees International Union (SEIU Wisconsin State Council); Sheet Metal Workers Local 18; Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals; Wisconsin Nurses Association
Why are you running for the state Assembly?
I have been trying to address issues that directly affect the quality of life of the people of the 22ndDistrict, the greater Milwaukee area, and the state of Wisconsin for many years. These issues include access to quality healthcare, access to quality education, mental health insurance parity, and affordable, safe housing. I have been frustrated that important issues, such as these, the precarious state of the environment and growing poverty have not received the attention they require. I have a history of problem solving at the grassroots level, bring the Crisis Intervention Team program to Milwaukee, coordinating it for the past three years, developing the Crisis Intervention Partner program, and being a founding member of the Milwaukee Mental Health Task Force. However, more needs to be done at a higher level-at the State level-to achieve better outcomes for the community.
What are your qualifications?
I have the knowledge, experience, and motivation necessary to accomplish significant change. I am a Milwaukee native and have lived in this district for over 20 years. I know the people and the issues first-hand. I have been working to improve. For many years, and I have a history of success. With one of the greatest obstacles to productive change being a logjam among people, I do have a record of listening to different viewpoints, finding commonality, and working to get things done. I have advanced degrees in healthcare, and a background of being in the field, not just analyzing issues from a distance.
What are the biggest challenges facing your district?
Healthcare concerns loom large in this district. Many constituents have difficulties paying for insurance, especially those who are self-employed or work for small businesses. Others have deductibles so high, they are omitting yearly screening tests. Young adults, especially recent college graduates, are not finding jobs with benefits. Another issue is the high property tax rate, with many aging residents fearing they cannot afford to live in their homes. While the suburban schools have not had the struggles of MPS, the spending caps are starting to affect class sizes and certain programs. For the part of the district in Milwaukee, education problems already exist.
How will you ensure that Milwaukee has adequate state aid at the same time the state has a large structural budget deficit?
The state representatives and senators from the Milwaukee area must work together to support Milwaukee, and get beyond partisan differences, no matter who controls each legislative body. With seven senators and 19 representatives, a caucus can be formed to influence decisions in Madison. Moreover, state aid must be viewed as an investment in a great city, a city that has the potential to turn around and give strength to the state. (See the question below)
How will you spur job growth in the Milwaukee area?
Milwaukee has the opportunity to a leader in job growth if we wisely make use of our natural and personnel resources. The state can provide incentives to partner relationships among schools (high schools, colleges, and technical schools) and businesses to create job opportunities. As the call is sounded for a growing green economy, Milwaukee is uniquely situated to step up and create family-supporting jobs in these fields (such as new transportation, creating solar panels/wind turbines, Great Lakes restoration).
Do you support a comprehensive health care plan like Healthy Wisconsin? Why? If not, what would you prefer?
Yes, I do support a comprehensive plan like Healthy Wisconsin. We must also make sure that health plans for the more vulnerable people in our society include access to quality healthcare. Medicaid, Medicare, and Badgercare recipients must be able to receive specialty care, dental and mental health services. It is not adequate to print and deliver an insurance card and assume a healthcare problem has been resolved, yet have providers unwilling to accept this group of patients.
Should private insurers be required to cover autism spectrum disorders and comprehensive mental health treatment?
Absolutely!!! Treating these disorders and illnesses makes sense from moral, personal, and economic points of view. Insurance companies reimburse treatment of psychiatric disorders at a rate established in 1985. The illnesses often remain untreated, and the costs are born by the individuals, who are hampered from achieving personal and economic goals. The costs are also borne by taxpayers, as Milwaukee County pays for mental health services, competing for the same dollars as transportation and park services.
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 do not believe the School Choice Program is a success. There are many problems related to quality control, funding, and eligibility of students in the choice program. I am concerned that it takes funding from public schools, is selective in the students accepted, and is not subject to the same rules and restrictions faced by the public schools. I do not support its expansion, nor do I think it wise to totally eliminate choice schools-too many students would be adversely affected by this sudden move. Tighter restrictions must be applied, so that parents are indeed making informed choices and students are protected from incompetent administrators and teachers. At the same time, we can learn from those choice schools that individually seem to be making a difference; perhaps some effective programs can be used in MPS. Funding must be updated, so that the money follows the student if they are removed from choice schools, and a greater reliance on private sources of funding is needed.
Do you support a statewide smoking ban that includes bars and restaurants?
Do you believe that the state should ease its restrictions on building more nuclear power plants?
The state should not ease its restrictions until safety and environment concerns are adequately dealt with.
Should children of illegal immigrants who graduated from a Wisconsin high school be able to pay in-state tuition at a state college?
Yes. I support the Dream Act. It is shortsighted and un-American to punish this group of worthy students. They have the right to be valuable, contributing members of our society and should not be punished for decisions made by their parents many years ago.
If Roe v. Wade were overturned by the Supreme Court, would you vote to allow a woman the right to choose an abortion?
Absolutely. The government should not interfere with a woman's health decisions.
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?