DANA WACHS

Wisconsin’s Choice Candidate Questionnaire 

BACKGROUND

Name: Dana Wachs


Previous experience:

I’ve spent my career as a trial lawyer helping Wisconsin families take on a rigged system – from workers who were hurt on the job who were denied healthcare to farmers being taken advantage of by large corporations. I have also had the pleasure of representing the residents of Eau Claire first as a local alder on the Eau Claire City Council and for the past six years in the Wisconsin State Assembly.

As an advocate in the courtroom, city hall, and state capitol, I’ve seen firsthand how politicians put special interests ahead of working families. I’m determined to change this broken system and help families like the ones I’ve helped in Eau Claire all these years.

Hometown: Eau Claire, WI

THE ISSUES

1. Environment and energy

Clean air, water, and land are not only good for our health and the environment but make economic sense. From Foxconn to mining, Gov. Walker has continually sided with corporate special interests over Wisconsin’s people and our natural resources. By protecting our environment and investing in green energy, we can preserve what makes Wisconsin so special for generations to come. As governor, we will immediately go to work to:

  • Restore science-based decision making at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and appoint an independent DNR Secretary who is free from corporate political interests.
  • Establish policies that grow a clean and green economy and reduce Wisconsin’s carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Bring together scientists, hunters, and officials to combat Chronic Wasting Disease.
  • Create a municipal finance program to help homeowners who want to replace old, lead-ridden water pipes and improve their energy efficiency.
  • Adopt common-sense regulations to protect our natural resources and our sporting heritage from out-of-state developers and mining interests.
  • Increase support for Great Lakes restoration efforts and take steps to prevent the spread of invasive species.

2. Healthcare

Health care is a basic right, but unfortunately for many in Wisconsin, it is still a luxury. In 2018, no Wisconsin family should have to face bankruptcy if a family member becomes sick. My Healthy Badger Initiative will:

  •  Expand eligibility to BadgerCare for people with low incomes.
  • Allow for a BadgerCare buy-in for folks making too much for BadgerCare but who are unable to afford insurance coverage in the private marketplace.
  • Develop a BadgerCare Exchange to lower insurance costs for small businesses and individuals.
  • Establish protections for pre-existing conditions, allow folks to stay on their parents' insurance coverage through age 26, protect access to women's health services, and expand coverage of essential health benefits.
  • Increase access to critical preventative services, such as dental, mental health, and substance abuse treatment by increasing reimbursement rates and rewarding providers who focus on maintaining and improving patient health.

3. Education (all levels)

My mother was a public school teacher in Chippewa Falls, and all three of my children graduated from public school. I understand firsthand the responsibility our state’s education system has to prepare Wisconsin students from every region of the state for future success.

Unfortunately, Gov. Walker has failed our public schools, technical colleges, and university students with his deep cuts across the education spectrum. This has led to significant inequality throughout the state, lifelong struggles for many, and a weaker economy for all.

Support for education must begin in a child’s earliest years to ensure they get off to a healthy and strong start and it ends with ensuring higher education or technical college is within reach for every student who works hard and gets good grades.

My Achieve Wisconsin Initiative will put Wisconsin’s kids first and:

  • Restore education funding.
  • Expand funding and support for early childhood education programs.
  • Give schools the tools and resources needed to address the achievement gap.
  • Ensure everyone has the opportunity to attend a technical college or a four-year university.
  • Allow folks to refinance their college debt at ultra-low interest rates.

4. Voting rights and campaign finance

As governor, I will focus on strengthening our democracy. Far too often, Wisconsinites face barriers to voting. We need to end efforts to suppress the vote and restore confidence in our electoral system. This includes:

  • Modernizing our voter registration system through automatic voter registration and preserving same-day registration.
  • Ending voter suppression by eliminating voter identification requirements and expanding early, mail-in, and absentee voting.
  • Restoring our democracy by adopting non-partisan redistricting reform.
  • Respecting the Constitution and calling special elections in a timely manner. Additionally, Wisconsin’s reputation for clean elections and strong government ethics has taken a hit under Gov. Walker. As governor, I will support efforts to eliminate the influence of corporate special interests and return power to the people of Wisconsin. For too long, big corporate special interests have dominated our state’s elections at the expense of the everyday Wisconsinite. We need common-sense election reform, and I am committed to signing legislation that enables public financing of state elections.

5. Public safety, policing, and mass incarceration

Wisconsin’s violent crime rate is at an all-time high at the same time we are incarcerating more people than ever before. Gov. Walker’s record on criminal justice and gun safety has been abysmal. I support a new modern approach to keeping Wisconsin safe, which is centered on five major tenets:

  • Address the root causes of many crimes through creating jobs, increasing wages, and tackling the racial and economic inequality that exists in our state.
  • Focus on intervention, treatment, and rehabilitation to keep families safe, lower costs and end the cycle of recidivism.
  • Keep our students, teachers, and families safe by banning the sale of military-style semi-automatic assault weapons, bump stocks and high capacity magazines, instituting universal backgrounds checks and enacting waiting periods.
  • Legalize marijuana and expand the use of treatment and diversion programs for non-violent offenders.
  • Foster trust between local communities and law enforcement by ending the use of racial profiling, prohibiting state and local law enforcement from being turned into immigration police, and expanding support for community-oriented policing.

6. Wages and workers rights

While Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is low, many people are working multiple jobs just to make ends meet. While Gov. Walker’s approach has led to stagnant wages and reduced benefits, I am committed to ensuring Wisconsin’s economy is working for all, not just the one percent of our society.

Examples of key actions that I will undertake include:

  • Increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour and create a wage board to recommend future increases.
  • Restore the ability for local communities to establish local wage and labor ordinances.
  • Address gender and racial pay equity gaps.
  • Support worker efforts to unionize, repeal Right to Work laws and enact prevailing wage laws.
  • Ensure anyone working multiple part-time jobs or in a low-wage job has access to skills training.
  • Eliminate waiting lists for training in high-growth occupations such as advanced manufacturing, renewable energy, energy efficiency, healthcare, clean water, and technology.
  • Ramp up mobile job and training assistance in rural Wisconsin and other underserved communities.
  • Encourage innovative business models that ensure good-paying jobs stay and grow in Wisconsin such as cooperatives and employee ownership of Wisconsin businesses.

7. Infrastructure

A strong and robust transportation and infrastructure program is vital to Wisconsin’s economy. Unfortunately for too long, Wisconsin policymakers and Gov. Walker have failed to fix our state’s crumbling roads and bridges, prioritize investments in infrastructure projects, and develop a long-term sustainable transportation funding solution. As governor, I will bring stakeholders together to develop and implement a multi-year, multi-modal initiative to address Wisconsin’s transportation and infrastructure needs. This includes not only highways but also passenger and freight rail, public transit, bicycle, and pedestrian improvements. I also support reforming how we raise money to fund our transportation needs, including restoring gas tax indexing. We have to make sure that we have the strong, diversified revenue sources needed to fix Wisconsin’s crumbling bridges and roads, to create thousands of good-paying jobs and to grow our economy.

8. Immigration

We are a country founded by immigrants and built by immigrants. The one thing that unites the country is the need to act on comprehensive immigration reform. Unfortunately, many in Madison and Washington, D.C. are too busy pandering to the far right to address the issue.

As your governor, I will work to make Wisconsin a more fair and just place to live by:

  • Opposing any efforts to discriminate against a person based on their religion, race, or country of origin.
  • Support Congress passing the Dream Act to permanently protect and offer a pathway to citizenship for those that came to the United States at an early age.
  • Develop a means for immigrant workers to receive ID cards and driver’s licenses.
  • Raise the minimum wage, establish paid sick leave benefits, expand labor rights, and enact other workplace protections that will benefit both immigrant and non-immigrant workers alike.
  • End the practice of racial profiling by law enforcement.

9. Jobs and the economy

To grow Wisconsin jobs, we must invest in Wisconsin’s people. I am committed to putting Wisconsin workers and families first. Unfortunately, Wisconsin families and workers are getting left behind while the rest of the nation grows.

As governor, I will champion innovative solutions to ensure economic opportunity for all and move Wisconsin from one of the worst to one of the best states for job creation and wage growth.

Some issues include:

  • Develop a broad economic agenda that isn’t dependent upon a single investment with a wealthy foreign company like Foxconn.
  • Ensure economic fairness for all.
  • Connect Wisconsin workers currently in the state and those who have left but want to return to good-paying careers in our state.
  • Ensure security for Wisconsin workers who are retired or are planning to retire.
  • Invest in Main Street Wisconsin, rural Wisconsin, and Wisconsin’s major cities.
  • Establish a $15 an hour minimum wage, paid family leave, child care, and retirement security.
  • Support innovation and the next generation of Wisconsin small businesses and startups.
  • Grow Wisconsin’s green, agriculture, energy, advanced manufacturing, and forestry/paper economies.

Of the issues above, which three areas will you prioritize as governor of Wisconsin? 


There is no shortage of priorities as we move Wisconsin forward after eight years of Gov. Walker dividing and conquering our great state. As governor, I will take the power out of the hands of the wealthy special interests that roam the hallways of our state capitol and will go to work in week one to:

  • Create an Economy That Works for Everyone
  • Ensure Affordable Quality Health Care for all Wisconsinites
  • Protect Wisconsin’s Great Outdoors

In the best case scenario, what does good governance look like? Who should the governor of Wisconsin work alongside or in coalition with?

The governor of Wisconsin is the governor of the entire state and must be an advocate for the people and not wealthy special interests. As governor, I look forward to working hand-in-hand with folks of all backgrounds to ensure we are moving Wisconsin forward in a manner that leaves no man, woman, or child behind. I will build a coalition and administration that reflects Wisconsin’s diverse people.

For far too long, we have had a leader who is content on governing by dividing and conquering the people of our great state. He is beholden to powerful special interests and is a champion of an extreme agenda.

Good governance requires someone with the experience to bring parties together to do what is right -- not to focus on self-preservation and the next election. Good governance means returning to the Wisconsin Idea that government is here to “help solve problems and improve health, quality of life, the environment, and agriculture for all citizens of the state.”

What efforts is your campaign making to recruit and engage volunteers?

Our campaign recognizes that it will take a big team to elect Wisconsin’s next democratic governor, and we are leaving no stone unturned. We have a comprehensive voter and volunteer engagement effort through a robust social media program, meet and greets around the state, outreach to community and progressive organizations, and a responsive phone and email recruitment program.

We conducted an assessment of past election cycles, including Democratic failures in 2016, and developed a multi-faceted strategy focused on increasing engagement in Wisconsin’s urban areas as well as to bring working-class voters in more rural parts of Wisconsin back into the fold. Our campaign is making a major push to connect with and engage voters who did not turn out to vote or turned away from Democratic candidates in past elections.

By building a campaign in all 72 counties, we will build a grassroots campaign that is ready to win in August and beat Scott Walker in November. Anyone interested in volunteering for our campaign is encouraged to contact Crystal Miller at crystal@danawachs.com.