I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I was too poor to be born in a hospital. I was birthed by a mid-wife in the backwoods surrounded by cotton fields in Abbeville, MS. As a child, I learned the value of hard work and discipline by picking cotton and working in the fields. I would pick cotton all day for ‘Two of a hundred,’ That’s 2 dollars for every 100 pounds of cotton.
It was tough on my mother trying to raise 6 children on $3.35 an hour. Even though she would work all day and weekends when she could, it was never enough to make ends meet. I, like you, understand, ‘all too well and from lived experience,” the importance of having a job that pays a family supporting wage and I strongly support increasing the minimum wage.
As a child, I grew up with no running water or in-door plumbing. We had to carry water for long distances in order for my mother to cook and so we could put some water in a bucket and take a ‘wash off’ for school. I tried to ease the burden and help my mother by hauling pulpwood ‘logging,’ cutting grass, and doing odd jobs when I could.
But despite these challenges, it was the ‘will’ of my praying mother and ‘the people in my church’ to see me, my brothers and my sisters go to college and have a better life than the one she had that inspired me to rise above my circumstances and take action steps to make both our dreams of going to college a reality.
As a child, I grew up in the church and I still believe in the power of prayer!
At a young age, my mother knew and stressed the value of a good education, However, I knew that my mother could not afford for me to go to college. Therefore, at 16 years old, I joined the United States Army. Because of my mother and the United States Army, I proudly attended Rust College ‘The Citadel on the Hill’… An excellent Historically Black College. After receiving such a quality great education and an incredible experience, I came to Wisconsin where I have served this community and this great state for the past 25+ years.
Wisconsinites, you are looking at someone who truly values education, ‘not only in words, but in deeds.’ For over 25 years, I served our children as an educator, Principal and Interim Superintendent of Schools. I was humbled to be selected as National Principal of the Year in 2013 by the National Alliance of Black School Educators. As your United States Senator, I will use my experience and knowledge to connect theory with practice to improve the quality of life of all Wisconsinites. I will work to provide equitable access to educational opportunities for your children and you as parents. I will work to expand broadband services throughout the state—as it is a Civil Right. I will advocate for greater school funding and higher teacher pay and benefits. I will work with our schools, colleges, and universities to develop and expand entrepreneurship opportunities for students as well as I will work with Historically Black Colleges and Universities ’s and our Historically Hispanic Serving Institutions to build a bridge to recruit and hire more minority teachers that reflect the diversity of our state and the students we serve. More so, I will work with our stakeholders to address the school to prison pipeline by getting students in school not prison. As well, I will work with our local colleges and universities to develop a teacher education pipeline from high school to the classroom. This will allow us to GROW OUR OWN teachers and keep them here in Wisconsin. If we truly believe diversity is our strength, we must be bold in our recruitment and retainment of more minorities to our state…especially within our schools.
Wisconsinites, for 29 years, I proudly served this nation and this state in United States Army and with many years in the WI National Guard. I am combat tested and approved. Proudly, With honor, I served 2 combat tours…one in Iraq 2004-2005 and one in Afghanistan in 2014-2015. During my tenure, I have been humbled to receive many awards to include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, and many others. Wisconsinites, I am proud to serve and to be of service. I will fight for our Veterans who continue to fight the war abroad and the war at home. I will address the issue of loss of pay during deployment.
As your United States Senator, just as I have stood and fought on the frontlines abroad, I will stand and fight for you and the democracy of this nation here at home. I will also fight to ensure that we serve those who served us by advocating for greater benefits, to include service connected support, ’not only’ for Soldiers and their families, but for our police officers and firefighters. I will advocate to expand educational benefits for Wisconsin Veterans and their families to include not only tuition but room and board and meals at the school of their choice (in-state or out-of-state). I will fight for expanded mental health services, better health care and we must address and provide better support to our homeless veterans.
Wisconsinites, I strongly support law enforcement and I respect the work they do on a daily basis. As a Soldier ‘in uniform’ for 29 years and one who has served in two combat zones, I understand brotherhood, I understand service and I definitely understand sacrifice. I do not believe in defunding the police. Many law enforcement agencies do not have enough funding as it is. However, I do believe that law enforcement agencies should review their policies, procedures, and budgets to see how more community building programs can be implemented to rebuild the relationship between law enforcement and the community.
The trust and confidence between law enforcement and our communities within our state and across this nation must be restored. As your Senator, I will work toward that cause while and I fight to ensure that the pendulum still swings toward justice, equality and equity for all people. I will fight for what is right for Wisconsin!
During these times, I, like you, cannot ignore the racial divide within this country and within our State. The issues expressed by Wisconsinites and others across this nation during the period of civil unrest must be addressed. Real dialogue coupled with action must be done if meaningful systematic change is to take place that values life and that will improve the quality of life for all Wisconsinites. Black Lives Matter does not mean that lives ‘ALL’ don’t matter because they do. But All lives can’t matter until Black Lives are a part of the ‘ALL.’ As your Senator, I will work to Bridge the racial divide. I will work with our Faith-based leaders, activists, the Divine Nine, educators, business leaders, elected officials, NAACP, LULAC, Urban Leagues and other stakeholders across this state to address and take action to change the narrative that Wisconsin is one the most segregated states in the nation. Together, we can make Wisconsin a model for others to follow.
I will fight against discrimination and racism for all people. I, like you, believe that all people should be respected regardless of race, color, religion or sexual orientation. As your Senator, I will work to ensure that all voices are uplifted and that equitable representation ‘not only’ be at the table but belong and be heard. Whether you are African American, White, Asian, LatinX, Native American, LGBTQ or other groups, you are a part of the fabric of this state and our nation.
I will work with members of the divine nine local and nationally. I will work collaboratively with each organization to see
how we can make their respective national agendas and priorities manifest down to the local level.
The violence that is happening within our communities, our state, and within our nation cannot be ignored. While I, like you, believe in the right to bear arms, I do believe that we need more sensitive gun control measures. Too many guns are getting into the hands of people who should not have them and people are dying as a result. We must address this issue. As your U.S. Senator, I will work to protect the constitutional rights of all Americans while fighting to ensure that guns do not get into the hands of those who should not have them.
Over the past 2 years, I have humbly and proudly served you throughout this state on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response as the Administrator of the Division of Wisconsin Emergency Management. And my heart still mourns for those who we have lost due to this deadly virus. But ‘shoulder to shoulder’ day by day, and together we have with our Federal, state and local partners, we have worked shoulder to shoulder to help our state, ‘the Badger state’ to Bounce Back, as well as, help our Nation to Build Back Better. In order for our sate and our nation beat COVID-19 and the Delta Variant, we must get vaccinated. Currently, it is our best defense. We must trust the science. As your U.S. Senator, I will encourage testing and vaccination for all Americans. However, I will respect the rights of those Americans who do not get vaccinated for religious reasons. I will encourage all Americans to trust the science and ensure that the most accurate information is shared so that unvaccinated and unsure Americans can make an informed decision.
I will fight for prison reform. As well, I will continue to be on the frontlines of the effort to get Wisconsinites vaccinated… even those who are incarcerated. Doing time should not be a death sentence. As well, as U.S. Senator, I will fight to ensure that the scales still swing toward justice, equity and equality for all Americans.
I will support the Legalization of Marijuana at a tax rate comparable to other states to help pay for schools and other state programs, (e.g. drug rehab, roads, police-community building programs, etc.). As well, I will support medical research. I will advocate for and support release of prisoners for petty marijuana crimes on a case by case basis where appropriate.
For us to Bounce Back and Build Back Better, we need more jobs. I will listen, work and partner with our businesses to bring more family supporting jobs to Wisconsin. As well, I will encourage businesses to be more veteran friendly. In this efforts, we must uplift our youth through the creation of more Youth Apprenticeship Programs and entrepreneurship opportunities. We must expand Online-businesses and re-introduce jobs in the trades…. all while educating our youth about financial literacy.
Provide better health care and more mental health services and programs, especially during and after this pandemic.
We must remember and take care of our senior citizens. Health care is critically important, especially for our senior citizens.
Along with many important issues I, like you, recognize the reality of climate change. I have advocated for initiatives to help improve our environment as a member of the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change. As well, I will work with FEMA to support Wisconsinites through Emergency Management in our state before, during and after a disaster. As your Senator, I will continue to support positive climate change initiatives.
Throughout these difficult times, I, like you, still believe in the human spirit. Whether it was the tornadoes in Northern Wisconsin in 2019, civil unrest and even during worst pandemic of our time—COVID-19, I have seen the best of Wisconsinites emerge through the worst of times. This shows the resilience upon which our state and this nation was built.
Today, I appreciate the challenges throughout my upbringing and I would not have changed one thing. Those experiences made me who I am today. It taught me character and integrity. It taught me to respect all people, especially those who have been knocked down and to help those who are still struggling to get back up. But through each of my life’s experiences, I have never forgotten where I came from. It is a combination of all of these experiences and beliefs that has inspired me, empowered me and tailor-made me ‘with a strong desire’ to represent you in the United States Senate.