Wisconsin’s Choice Candidate Questionnaire
Name: Mahlon Mitchell
Previous experience: For 20+ years, I have served the city of Madison as a firefighter, running into buildings when everyone is running out. I currently serve as President of the Professional Fire Fighters of Wisconsin - the youngest and first African American to serve in the post.
When the fight over collective bargaining and Scott Walker's Act 10 law began in 2011, I led the firefighters in a monumental stand of solidarity with other public servants. Despite being exempted from the bill, my brothers and I marched on the Capitol with fellow working families that were threatened by the Budget Repair Bill. I took the opportunity to travel the state as a firefighter spreading the word about Scott Walker’s divisive policies and ran for Lieutenant Governor as the Democratic nominee in the 2012 recall election.
My entire career has centered around fighting for Wisconsinites across the state. In my role as President of PFFW, I represent 4000+ firefighters and their families. Recently, I worked diligently to pass two instrumental pieces of legislation: the Infectious Disease Presumption to make sure firefighters are covered if they contract a disease or incur a disability on the job, and a bill that ensures families and spouses of firefighters who die in the line of duty will have their health insurance premiums covered.
Hometown : Delavan, WI
1. Environment and energy
Wisconsin can become a national leader in clean energy production with goals to make our state fueled by renewable energy. This comes not only as an advantage to our environment, but also creates a strong new sector of jobs in the clean energy sector. Energy for homes, businesses, and state buildings should be produced by clean and renewable energy sources. We want Wisconsin to have a majority of its energy produced by these sources in the coming years ahead, along with using this industry to create jobs, improve our economy, and attract new talent to Wisconsin. All of this comes while also repairing the damage that has been done to the Department of Natural Resources and ensuring that our natural resources are never again threatened by private interests and the looting of public lands.
We need to make BadgerCare a public option to close the gap of the 300,000 Wisconsinites who currently do not have coverage, and this expansion would come at no additional cost to the state. I would also accept any additional federal dollars to expand Medicare. It’s an injustice to our neighbors that we allow so many to go uncovered knowing that we have the ability to solve this problem. We must also make SeniorCare permanent while expanding its funding so seniors have greater access to medicine they need, and expand Family Care. We must also address the opioid crisis that is plaguing our communities and taking lives through state-funded treatment options and community involvement. If you’re a Wisconsin resident, you will have access to the healthcare and treatment you require.
3. Education (all levels)
We have an obligation to fully fund our public schools and ensure that everyone has access to a good public education while also providing the funding necessary to fix our existing infrastructure. As governor, I intend to make private institutions that receive state dollars as accountable and transparent as any public school, and hold them to the same standards to guarantee a quality education for our kids. We’re seeing a trend of local referendums in communities who are desperate to obtain additional funding to fix our schools. We must also restore the cuts made to our technical college system and increase funding for vocational programs and promotion of apprenticeship programs, and restore the cuts made to our UW System. I believe in the Wisconsin Idea, and believe that we can build one of the best educational systems in the nation.
4. Voting rights and campaign finance
As governor, we need to return to the era of transparency and openness that Wisconsin once enjoyed. This means ending Voter ID which serves as a discriminatory hurdle for too many people in Wisconsin. At the same time, we need to expand early voting so everyone has an opportunity to make it to the polls if they intend to vote. I will restore the non-partisan Government Accountability Board and end the partisan panels of the elections and ethics commissions. It’s also important to reform how and when registered lobbyists contribute to campaigns, and restore the requirement to list employers of donors on campaign finance disclosures of donors. We will also enact automatic voter registration when acquiring a state-issued ID or upon turning 18 to remove yet another hurdle to voting.
5. Public safety, policing, and mass incarceration
The first thing we need to do is put an end to our “truth in sentencing” law in Wisconsin. Currently, parole is no longer an option for those who are sentenced to prison. You are forced to serve the time given, and then a forced period of “extended supervision.” Only under rare circumstances, such as drug treatment, is someone allowed to enter a new program, but even these programs are overcrowded. We need to return to judicial discretion where judges have the ability to do what’s best for those standing before them. We will also reform our juvenile justice system, close Lincoln Hills, and move juveniles to community facilities. We will also “ban the box” on employment applications that force people to disclose criminal convictions. I will also make the push to legalize marijuana and use the revenue from the sales to pay for new infrastructure improvements.
6. Wages and workers rights
As governor, I will seek to implement a $15/hr wage floor across all sectors of our economy, and create a system that will ensure wages continue to rise as our economy expands through the future. Nobody should work full-time and not make ends meet, nor should people have to work two or three jobs and still struggle to pay for basic needs.. Working people across Wisconsin have a right to have their voices heard, and have a seat at the table when it comes to wages, benefits, and working conditions. As a labor leader, I understand the importance of worker's rights and intend to be a champion for working people across our state. Under my administration, Wisconsin will never again be a state that puts workers behind the interests of businesses and corporations. Workers come first, and ensuring everyone is making a living wage will always be a top priority.
Our public roads are some of the worst in the nation. We have an obligation to fix our roadways and make new, substantial investments in next-generation transportation options so we can get cars off the road. I will also prioritize broadband expansion across the state to create a strong network for businesses and communities to connect. This is good for families, and it’s good for business. We also need to take a good look at rural infrastructure, and ensuring that small businesses and family farmers across Wisconsin have the ability to transport goods in our 21st century economy. We need to provide adequate funding to fix our schools, bridges, and other roadways. We need to put an end to our state having structurally-deficient infrastructure.
We are a nation of immigrants whose future depends on the contributions from our immigrant populations. I’ll focus on providing ways for our immigrant populations to feel welcomed here in Wisconsin. I will opposed efforts to remove them from our state and take legal action when necessary. If we are to have a 21st century economy, we need to provide a welcoming atmosphere to immigrants. This also means ensuring no local municipality or law enforcement agency enters into 287(g) programs to act as federal law enforcement officials. We need our local resources dedicated to our own communities. We do not need to divide our neighborhoods and institute practices that will threaten the trust between those living in a community and our local law enforcement.
9. Jobs and the economy
The current administration promised 250,000 jobs when first elected in 2010. That has failed, and Wisconsin is suffering from a low wage economy. As governor, jobs will rank high on my list of priorities. We have cut taxes across the board hoping for economic growth, but we still rank in the back of the pack in terms of job growth. We need to reform the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and the loans it provided to current or potential businesses. We need to look at large deals like the Foxconn project and ensure that our environmental and labor standards are being met. As governor, I would also look to raise the minimum wage to $15 dollars an hour, because it is time to give our working families a raise. It is time to have all hands working.
Of the issues above, which three areas will you prioritize as governor of Wisconsin?
Wages, healthcare, and education
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 plan to be progressive, productive and pragmatic. If we want people to trust government, we need to change the way we are doing things. The governor should work with anyone who wants to make Wisconsin better. This means Democrats, Republicans, and everyone in between, bringing everyone to the table and listening to their concerns. We need someone in Madison who represents the people, not special interests. This means openness, transparency, and truthfulness under any and all circumstances. We’ve recently made a deal with Foxconn that is now expected to cost our state upwards of $4.5 billion, yet the Walker administration claims they can’t find money to fix our broken infrastructure or fund our public schools and universities. Good governance means putting the people first, and a fight for a better Wisconsin. I will ensure Wisconsin leaves no one behind.
What efforts is your campaign making to recruit and engage volunteers?
I’m running a campaign to win back Wisconsin from the special interests and corporations that have propped up Governor Walker’s failed leadership for too long. As a Wisconsin firefighter, we have a saying: all hands working. That means everyone on scene doing something to make the situation better. We know that we’re in this fight together. I see a growing resistance as I travel across Wisconsin that is ready for the fight ahead and enthusiastic about my vision for our state. My campaign is prepared to harness that energy and run a people-powered campaign, supported by thousands of volunteers and activists looking for a new path forward.