What is #10Questions
Thanks for joining us tonight, Mahlon! Are you ready to answer #10Q?
"Let's get started!"
Q1: We’ll begin with the most important question: what made you decide to run for governor?
“For 20+ years I’ve been a firefighter responding to my community. With low wages, suffering education, crumbling infrastructure, and a broken criminal justice system, Wisconsin is a 3 alarm fire and I’m here to put it out. I’ve stood on the sidelines long enough and supported many great candidates who have lost – Scott Walker is beatable and I’m here to win. While he sought to divide our state, we’re building a broad coalition of voters who are ready to get #AllHandsWorking. Wisconsin has the opportunity to elect our first black governor. We can make history this cycle, but we must make it count.”
Q2: You’ve lived most of your life in Wisconsin and grew up in conservative Walworth county – same as the current governor of Wisconsin, in fact. Yet you two are far apart on issues, notably the importance of unions. What will you do to protect workers’ rights?
“You're right, Scott Walker and I did go to the same high school, but it's clear we took very different classes. It’s time for Wisconsin’s middle class to grow and we can do that from the bottom up. We need to build an economy that works for everyone – an ‘All Hands Working’ economy. As Wisconsin governor, I will reverse our low-wage economy and ensure we create long term, family-supporting jobs. I plan to create regional sectoral commissions that bring employees, employers, and the state together to negotiate wages and benefits according to sector and region. It’s time we give a new voice to working people and create a $15/hour wage floor across Wisconsin. We will create jobs, support Wisconsin businesses, and strengthen our economy while expanding opportunity to every corner of our state. My administration will get Wisconsin working again.”
Q3: Two infrastructure issues impact Wisconsin families on a daily basis: Road conditions, reported to be among the worst in the nation, and the lack of access to the internet (ranked 41st in the country.) How are these issues hurting Wisconsin’s prosperity and how can you fix them?
“The bottom line is this: Our roads in Wisconsin suck. Scott Walker returned $810M of our taxpayer dollars to the federal government that would have helped finance high speed rail here in Wisconsin. Talgo – who makes these trains – was preparing to build trains here for customers worldwide. When we invest in infrastructure, we invest in our future. This includes our roads and bridges, water and technology infrastructure. But as we build and rebuild, we must not make the same mistakes of the past. Further, getting broadband to farmers and rural communities will continue to be a critical part of making our state more competitive and create jobs. They, just like small businesses and students, need to be online. They are getting left behind and it threatens their livelihood and prosperity.”
Q4: Healthcare is one of your campaign’s top priorities. Wisconsin’s current governor refused the Medicaid expansion, leaving 80,000 Wisconsinites without healthcare. As governor, will you fight for Medicaid expansion?
“Yes. Just last week, the Virginia legislature passed a measure that would expand Medicaid – a lifesaving decision for many in the state. Wisconsin can be next. As governor, I would not only accept the Medicaid expansion, but make BadgerCare a public option. Elections matter. I tell people all the time, many people have access to an expensive car – but can they afford it? Healthcare is just the same. As Wisconsin governor, I promise to not only increase access to healthcare, but ensure affordability. There should never be a time where one must choose between the help they need and putting food on the table. There should never be a child that doesn't go to the hospital because their parents can't afford it. Never a senior who must choose between their medication and their mortgage.”
Q5: The opioid crisis is a scourge in the US, and Wisconsin is no exception. According to JAMA, medical marijuana laws are associated with significantly lower state-level opioid overdose mortality rates. Wisconsin voter @whitedove_777 asks where you stand on cannabis legalization.
“Legalizing marijuana would combat two very serious issues in our state – overcrowded jails and those addicted to opioids. We should legalize marijuana, tax it appropriately, and invest that money toward services that treat those who suffer from opioid addiction. As a firefighter, I've responded to many opioid-induced overdoses. There are places in the country that have run out of Narcan – the drug that reverses the effects of opioids. Being addicted is not a crime. We need to invest in treatment, not criminalization. Our jails here are overcrowded, due in part, to many non-violent marijuana offenses. Alcohol is legal and, in a lot of cases, worse for you than marijuana. The time for legalization is now!”
Q6: According to the US Bureau of Job Statistics, Wisconsin lands in the top 5 states with racial disparity in incarceration rates. Milwaukee, in particular, has been regarded as “the home of black incarceration.” How do you begin to tackle this issue?
“As a black man, and father to a son, this is especially concerning and a top priority for me as governor. Our criminal justice system is broken and we need to blow it up, figuratively of course. Our state currently spends more tax dollars on the Department of Corrections than it spends on educating our children. It’s time for real criminal justice reform in Wisconsin that focuses on rehabilitation and reducing recidivism. ‘Truth in sentencing’ and revocations contribute to our overcrowded jails. We must reinstate the policy of parole for good behavior and early release. We must also ‘ban the box’ on employment applications, bring back the pardon board, and institute community policing policies.”
Q7: As a proud supporter of the “Wisconsin Idea”, what is your plan to improve funding for public schools and make college accessible and affordable for everyone?
“The Wisconsin I know proudly believes in the power of education and the importance of funding our public schools and universities. We cannot afford two separate and unequal school systems. As Wisconsin governor, we will be a state that reinvests in education once again. One of my plans includes a pay-it-forward option where students beginning in 5th grade will work in their community – without cell phones! – helping in soup kitchens, veterans’ homes, shoveling snow for the elder neighbor who can't. Contributing to a better Wisconsin so that ‘Together We Rise.’ This plan will create a sense of community and pride. When you receive your high school diploma, you will have earned 2 years in-state tuition. If you choose to stay in the state 6 years after graduating college – raising your family, paying taxes – there is a loan forgiveness plan. As Wisconsin governor, I will work to pass a constitutional amendment requiring the state to fully-fund 2/3 of every Wisconsin School District budget and end the practice of paying for basic needs via referendum. Our children are our greatest commodity and their education is their greatest currency.”
Q8: There is a pervasive myth about homelessness that says that the more you spend to combat the crisis, the more people will come into your city for services. In February, a new state council convened to combat homelessness in Wisconsin. Is it working, and what else can be done?
“When I was a rookie on on my days off from the fire department, I worked as a street outreach coordinator for Briarpatch. My job was to identify and work with youth and veterans, many of whom were homeless, and link them with services and jobs across the Dane County. Being a firefighter, many of the calls that I respond to of those who are homeless often is because of mental health issues and lack of adequate care and resources. We must expand mental health care, but also make Wisconsin a leader in affordable housing and fair housing practices.”
Q9: On your site, you talk about ending voter ID laws, implementing automatic voter registration, expanding early voting, among other ways to ensure fair elections. What can citizens of Wisconsin do to make this a reality?
“The Koch Bros are the modern day John Birch Society. Those who implemented poll taxes and other barriers to vote are doing the same now with voter suppression tactics! We need to ensure that everyone has the access and ability to vote, because they already have the right! Wisconsin once enjoyed a rich tradition of progressive, transparent government that was open and accessible to everyone. It’s time we support a basic tenet of democracy – the more people who vote, the better. We make this a reality by winning. Vote for me on August 14.”
Q10: What is one issue we haven’t covered today that is an important one affecting your district, and where can people learn more about your campaign and how to support it?
“How do we win? We win by having a message that resonates with urban and rural voters. We win with an exciting candidate that will bring people who look like me to the polls – minorities, young people, and those left behind after 8 years of Scott Walker. We have a plan to bring 50,000 more African Americans out to vote.
Our farmers are hurting, when I got on the fire department in 1997, we had over 24,000 dairy farms in Wisconsin. As of 2015, we now have less than 10,000. Small businesses have been left behind by Walker’s corporate welfare handouts. The State of Wisconsin needs a fighter, better yet, a firefighter to respond! Wisconsinites need a champion and I want to be that champion!
I have spent the balance of my life working for people and that's what I plan to do as Wisconsin governor. As a statewide union president of 4,000 firefighters, when I take off my firefighting gear, I go to work for them everyday – advocating for fair wages, hours and working conditions.
We need to put people over politics, people over bad policy, and people even over party. We have the fierce urgency of now to create opportunities for everyone. We have to believe in the capacity for change here in Wisconsin. We can make history, but we have to make it count. I need your support: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/mm-home?refcode=splash.”
Thank you so much for taking the time out of your brutal campaign schedule to talk to us!
If you live in Wisconsin, please vote for Mahlon in this Wisconsin's Choice
“Keep following us on Twitter and Facebook. Thank you so much @AynRandPaulRyan and all of you at @BlueWaveCS. 2018 is our year. This has been so much fun and please keep up all of the hard work. We know that ‘Together We Rise.’”