Wisconsin’s Choice Candidate Questionnaire
Name: Kelda Roys
Hometown: Madison, WI
From: Marshfield, WI
I graduated from UW Law School, where I helped pass landmark criminal justice reforms to prevent wrongful convictions as part of the distinguished Innocence Project.
After law school, I became executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin, where I developed innovative and successful efforts to expand emergency contraception access through state and local policy. Under my leadership, Wisconsin passed the first pro-choice law in three decades, the Compassionate Care for Rape Victims Act, despite an anti-choice Assembly. I also worked on initiatives to reduce infant mortality and address racial disparities in health care.
In 2008, I won a competitive six-way primary for State Assembly, knocking on 20,252 doors, and became the youngest then-serving state legislator. The district I represented spanned Northwestern Dane County, representing a diverse population of urban, suburban, and rural voters. In my second term, I was elected Democratic Caucus Chair and, during historic protests, I helped lead the opposition to Gov. Scott Walker’s attack on long-standing worker protections.
I served as vice-chair of the Committee on Health and Healthcare Reform, enabling 80,000 Wisconsinites to have access to healthcare. I passed laws on a wide range of progressive issues, including health care, economic justice, election and campaign finance reform, consumer protection, child safety, conservation, fiscal responsibility, and criminal justice reform, among other areas. While in the legislature, I practiced law at Wheeler, Van Sickle & Anderson, helping individuals and small businesses.
In 2013, I left the legislature and, while pregnant with my first child, founded my company, a high tech real estate brokerage that I’ve grown to serve customers in 41 counties in WI.
I am the only candidate in the race who not only has executive experience (in the private and nonprofit sectors), but also state legislative experience, and the experience of building a successful small business from scratch. Most of all, among the other good candidates running, I have an unparalleled track record of actually enacting progressive legislation in Wisconsin. All of these qualifications make me the best prepared to govern and achieve progressive change from day one.
1. Environment and energy
Every Wisconsinite has the right to a clean, safe environment for health, safety, and recreation.
Protect waterways, land, and air. I’ll empower the DNR to protect lakes, rivers, and streams, as well as groundwater and drinking water, from source and NPS pollution, including lead pipes, and oppose efforts to undermine Public Trust Doctrine. I support sustainable ag that preserves soil & water quality, biodiversity, and reduces toxic chemical use, and oppose increased air pollution. I’ll create a permanent constitutional stewardship fund for public lands and natural resource preservation.
Oppose dirty resource extraction. I opposed the Keystone XL pipeline as well as all mining deregulation efforts (including sulfide and sand mining). We must protect our environment and landscape from irresponsible exploitation.
Support green energy . Wisconsin has no fossil fuels and shouldn’t subsidize harmful, polluting energy extraction and production. I’ll increase RPS to 30% by 2022, and 100% by 2050, and join the Paris Agreement. We’ll lead in clean energy tech, manufacturing, and production - creating good jobs, increasing energy security, and benefiting human/environmental health.
I’ll immediately Medicaid expansion dollars and create Wisconsin exchange with Badgercare as public option. That will create 10,000 healthcare jobs and insure approximately 85,000 Wisconsinites, while helping independent workers and small businesses get affordable quality coverage. I’ll raise MA reimbursement rates to capture more federal dollars and increase access to care especially in underserved areas, and I support increasing the medical loss ratio over time, rate review, and other consumer protections. As Vice-Chair of Health Committee, I helped design our state exchange, expanded Badgercare to 80,000 people, and supported Healthy Wisconsin/single-payer.
Expand successful pilot programs to reduce health care costs and increase quality. Some Wisconsin health systems have been leaders in improving patient outcomes and quality of life while decreasing costs, often by changing the payment model from fee-for-service to keeping patients healthy. This is especially important for populations like the elderly and those with chronic diseases, who may require more care and incur higher costs.
3. Education (all levels)
Universal early childhood care/education. I’ll address the high cost/unavailability of childcare by making 3K and 4K universally available, and greatly increasing birth-5 childcare subsidies to expand access to high quality childcare and pay providers fairly. All kids WILL have the right to safe, play-based childcare, and we’ll help prevent racial and economic disparities.
Adequately fund K12 and higher education, free college. I'll promote sum-sufficient funds to provide every child with quality education, and adjust the formula to actually pay what’s needed for each student/school. I’ll use “last dollar” tuition credits to ensure free 2 year higher ed, greatly increasing numbers of low-income, minority, and first-generation students, and free 4 year college for all students whose families earn less than the median income.
Reduce student loan debt. I’ll create a public refinancing authority allowing all borrowers to refinance educational debt at the lowest rates, and greatly expand forgiveness/repayment programs for graduates who serve in needed areas (e.g., rural mental health providers, teachers in high-needs schools). I’ll aggressively regulate predatory for-profit college schemes.
4. Voting rights and campaign finance
Universal adult franchise. As governor, I’ll repeal Voter ID, eliminate voter registration (a relic of Jim Crow), and greatly expand access to voting, including expanded early voting at libraries and municipal sites, longer voting hours, and increased vote by mail. I’ll aggressively punish any attempts at voter intimidation/misdirection.
Public financing of elections and complete transparency. I’ll pass a strong version of the DISCLOSE Act, reverse Citizens United, and institute effective public financing for state and local elections so anyone can run for office. We must end the flow of dark money into our elections and require donors for all coordinated or electoral communications to be fully disclosed.
End gerrymandering. We must un-rig our democracy, including ending partisan gerrymandering and prison gerrymandering.
As a longtime board member of Common Cause and one of the first and only serious candidates to run for federal office without accepting corporate PAC money, I’ve put my money where my mouth is.
5. Public safety, policing, and mass incarceration
Policing for community safety. I’ll treat substance use disorder and behavioral health as public health issues, not using law enforcement/criminal justice systems. I support community control over police and making police violence culturally and legally unacceptable.
Alternatives to incarceration. Diversion, deferred prosecution, specialized courts, restorative justice, and home detention can all reduce mass incarceration. We must also drastically reduce parole revocations when no new crime is committed.
Put prison time to good use. Prisons must have adequate treatment, educational, employment, and community supports for incarcerated people. I’ll restore “good time,” parole/pardon boards, and charge parole officers to ensure the success of their parolees, not catch them for minor rule violations.
Juvenile justice reform. No child should be tried as an adult. I’d close youth mini-prisons and transition to much smaller residential (not institutional) facilities, with no more than 8-10 residents, and preferably even smaller, augmented with professional foster care for the most challenged youth offenders.
Legalize, regulate, and tax recreational marijuana, prioritizing small Wisconsin businesses and underrepresented entrepreneurs in licensing.
6. Wages and workers rights
Restore collective bargaining. All public and private sector workers deserve a voice in the workplace and the right to negotiate wages, benefits, and working conditions.
Fair wages and benefits for every worker. I’ll raise the minimum wage to $15/hour, establish a wage board and sector commissions, and let municipalities set their own standards. I’ll enable any worker or employer to buy into a parallel Wisconsin Retirement System, make Badgercare a public option, and enact 12 weeks of universal paid family and sick leave for every worker.
Public funds should benefit workers. No public money, contracts, or tax benefits should ever subsidize substandard wages or to companies that engage in discrimination or unfair labor practices. I’d restore prevailing wage and PLAs.
Ensure equal pay for women. Women should be paid equally for the same work. No worker should have to face discrimination or harassment at the workplace. Women of color face an even larger wage gap and I will seek to close it.
Repair and maintain our aging infrastructure. Roads, bridges, rail corridors, and ports, and our transit systems need upgrades, as do our drinking water and sanitation/sewage systems. I’ll restore Complete Streets. We should retrofit schools and public buildings for energy efficiency and remove toxic or environmental hazards. I will aggressively seek federal funds for these needed projects, support a reasonable gas tax increase and indexing, and will using bonding only when necessary and fiscally responsible.
Invest in 21st Century infrastructure. I’ll ensure statewide broadband connectivity, wireless infrastructure, and computing power. We also need human infrastructure, including healthcare, education and worker training, and safe, affordable housing stock.
Make Wisconsin a leader in clean energy tech/manufacturing. Our state has no fossil fuels, so every dollar we spend on dirty energy leaves our state and contributes to climate change. We can become energy independent by fostering local, clean, sustainable energy production, “smart” grids, better power storage, and multimodal transit options for people and goods.
Support comprehensive immigration reform that acknowledges the importance of immigration to our economy and society. Wisconsin’s economy depends on immigrants, both documented and undocumented. I support driver licenses, a path to citizenship, immediately protecting Dreamers and their families, and expanding immigrant and non-immigrant visas.
Immigrants create jobs. As an entrepreneur, I know that immigrants are more than twice as likely to start companies as native-born Americans and new businesses create the vast majority of net new jobs. Wisconsin is rapidly “greying” as people my age and younger are leaving the state in droves. Immigration is one important way we can build a dynamic economy that has opportunities for younger workers, supports needed public services, and enhances Wisconsin’s culture and society.
Treat people with respect and dignity. Immigrants are uniquely vulnerable to wage and hour violations, unsafe conditions, and crime, including domestic violence; many don’t report because they fear deportation or retaliation. As an attorney, I represented immigrants and was appalled at the way immigrants can be mistreated. This must end.
9. Jobs and the economy
Help small businesses and homegrown innovators. The vast majority of net new jobs come from new businesses like mine. I understand the challenges of starting a company and will prioritize small businesses - not corporate welfare or race-to-the-bottom deals like Foxconn. My Small Business Plan will ensure a level playing field for workers and small businesses, so Wisconsin’s economy finally thrives for ALL workers -- not just the wealthiest among us.
Make Wisconsin a leader in clean energy tech/manufacturing. Wisconsin already has skilled workers and an advanced manufacturing base, and with a stronger state commitment to renewable energy, we could help this burgeoning industry provide thousands of good-paying jobs.
Expand opportunities in healthcare and education. By accepting federal Medicare expansion money and dramatically increasing our investment in education (especially early childhood), I will make a real commitment to family-supporting jobs in our state in these critical sectors that provide essential services to Wisconsinites. We will make worker training and vocational ed available and affordable to all who would like to benefit from it.
Of the issues above, which three areas will you prioritize as governor of Wisconsin?
As governor I will prioritize each of these issues - they are not in opposition to each other - they are all connected. Ending mass incarceration will enable us to invest more in in education; better infrastructure and healthcare creates jobs and and enables small businesses to succeed; protecting our natural resources and enacting paid family leave will ensure that younger families like mine want to stay in Wisconsin and contribute to our economy.
My vision for Wisconsin is that we are the best place to raise a family and the best place to grow a business. Every single item discussed here contributes to making that vision a reality, and I will not rest until we make it so. Finally, I am the only candidate in this race with a proven track record of working on every single one of these issues, and I know how to make change happen as Governor regardless of the composition of the legislature.
In the best case scenario, what does good governance look like? Who should the governor of Wisconsin work alongside or in coalition with?
As governor, I am excited to partner with many organizational and individual experts in their fields who share my vision of restoring opportunity and fairness to Wisconsin. Nothing great is ever achieved alone, especially in politics and government. I have a long track record of allyship and coalition-building, and I’m proud of my work to engage non-traditional stakeholders in organizing efforts.
My background is twofold - I’m an attorney and former state representative, so I have a deep understanding of the law and the powers of state government. I know how to craft a budget and use the vast powers of the executive branch to achieve progressive policies. I’m also the former head of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin and a scrappy entrepreneur - passionate about movement-building, grassroots organizing, and empowering people. I’m creative, persistent, and effective when dealing with would-be naysayers and adversaries.
I do not have all the answers, and I don’t trust anyone who says he does. But I do have a deep and lifelong commitment to building progressive power by all means available. As governor and during this campaign, I look to progressive partners, both people and organizations, for ideas, for help, for honest feedback, for support, and to see how I can support you - because mutuality and dialogue is essential to successful partnerships. This is how we make enduring change, and ensure it lasts far beyond my governorship. If there’s one thing the last eight years taught us, it’s that we cannot take anything for granted - we must ALWAYS be building progressive movements and power.
What efforts is your campaign making to recruit and engage volunteers?
Our campaign already has dozens of active volunteers around the state (and even some out of state). We are continuing to recruit volunteers via our Kelda Captain program. Kelda Captains are statewide “super volunteers” who augment our field, visibility, fundraising, and political efforts through local grassroots organizing and online engagement. Our campaign will have a robust statewide volunteer base by the beginning of summer that - along with our successful fundraising, unparalleled earned media/communications, and positive message - will carry us to victory in the primary and ensure that we defeat Scott Walker in November.