On Nov. 3, Tod Ohnstad will defend his seat against Crystal Miller of Kenosha. We asked the same questions of both candidates. Looking to find out more about Ohnstad, click here.
Here are Miller’s answers:
Where do you live?
How long have you lived in the community?
23 years in Kenosha area, both Kenosha and Pleasant Prairie
What is your educational background?
B.S. Business Management, Maranatha Baptist University 1995
What civic organizations do you belong to?
Crossway Community Church, Bristol; former longtime member of the Rotary Club of Kenosha West
What position are you running for?
State Assembly, 65th District
Have you ever held elected office before?
If so, what positions were you elected to?
In thinking about your election bid, what top three issues need to be addressed? *
Community Safety, Education, Economic Development
How would you plan to address those issues?
Our community desperately needs to build trust. Why are we dealing with such significant community safety issues? We don’t trust each other. There’s no easy answer on this but our elected officials must be an example of transparency, humility, and compassion. We have not seen this in Kenosha, and I am here to change that. I will not only show people what this looks like but encourage others in a community movement that will build trust. Some who are reading this may be scratching their heads and saying, “this doesn’t sound like a politician”. If that’s true, then I am already accomplishing my goal. We have to shake up what has become an unfortunate norm in our community.
What we experienced this summer in Kenosha gave us a front row seat to not only identify challenges that we have in community safety, but insight into how we can strengthen our police force and the security that our community so desperately craves. I will not waver in supporting reform, training, and funding for our law-enforcement. My opponent publicly cast doubt on our police officers immediately after the Jacob Blake shooting, (@RepTodOhnstad August 23, 2020) which did nothing to quell the violence and destruction that our community experienced. Law and order must be a priority for our community, for on its shoulders lies all of the things that we hold dear – safety of our families, education, choices, freedom, economic development, the list goes on and on.
Senator Van Wanggaard has proposed a bill to address public safety. These expansive measures to strengthen our commitment to law, order and accountability for our officers will be dealt with in the next legislative session. As I work toward these reforms in the legislature, I will offer unique perspective from our tragic experiences here in Kenosha. I know you join me in proclaiming “Never again!”
COVID-19 has created an environment where many do not feel safe. My leadership and perspective that I bring from my work in healthcare will be valuable as we seek to combat this virus. Mental wellness and substance abuse in our community is directly related to stress and trauma that our citizens have experienced this year; it is crucial that we offer support to those in need. I will support systems and solutions that not only keep our citizens safe but allow our economy and our businesses the best chance of success in the long run.
Our Education system is experiencing the most troubling year in our memory. With decreased enrollment as a result of families choosing options outside the public education system, we are going to see a very tight budget for public education. It is going to be more important than ever for legislators to offer solutions that sustain education opportunities. Now is the time to strengthen policy that supports choices for every family, this will ensure excellent education for all. As to tight budgets, I know how to sharpen my pencil and find ways to save money in order to sustain during difficult times. Our public systems should not act differently than businesses or families that struggle during economic challenges; everyone should be watching for ways to cut costs and find efficiencies. With the shortfall that our State will be dealing with it will be difficult to increase funding, yet our education system must be a priority.
A strong education system is essential for a healthy workforce and continued economic development. I will support strengthening our workforce and I am passionate about creating and reforming policy that allows our workers see a path to success. Too many lower income workers in Wisconsin feel left behind as they are limited in their growth because of unreasonable administration of welfare benefits. I support a “benefit stepdown” instead of a “benefit cliff” in order to incentivize workers to reach toward their goals and self-sufficiency. Everyone deserves to the opportunity to earn success and realize the value of meaningful work! Business development and entrepreneurial drive is the backbone of our economy in Wisconsin and business stand on the shoulders of a healthy and ready workforce. In Kenosha, our businesses want to be assured of law and order, they want support from local and state governments, and they want innovative solutions that limit hurdles on their path to success. I will support policy and incentives that attract high paying jobs to Kenosha and Wisconsin.
My opponent was at the helm of the UAW when they failed in their negotiations to keep Chrysler here. We have a lot to offer in Kenosha, and I will work hard to promote our city so that we can once again be a leader in manufacturing and industry.
In reference to those issues you have identified, what would success look like to you?
When I am elected, Kenosha will be my top priority. My future accomplishments will align with how I’ve lived my life. I will start by listening. For too long the voters of this district have felt like their voice doesn’t really matter. I am here to change that. People in our community want safety and security and want all people to be treated fairly. Citizens want Kenosha’s businesses to be protected and for entrepreneurs to have access to resources to rebuild.
Voters are concerned about elected officials understanding racial equity issues and believe that if we address this, we can achieve better outcomes throughout our city and state. Parents care about the preservation of our education system and they want to be involved in choices surrounding their children’s future. Working people in Wisconsin want to see a path to a successful future and want policy that supports their goals. My work will not be limited to this, but I’ll start with what I have learned.
Why are those issues important to you?
For the last 15 years I have invested my heart and soul into Kenosha and our people. I’ve accomplished this through building a successful business, investing in volunteer work that affects our most vulnerable citizens and weaving myself and my family into the fabric of this city. The more that I serve Kenosha, the more that I grow in my desire for good things to come to pass for us.
My “WHY” is deep and has been growing for the past several years, but what we experienced as a city in August solidified my will to be brave in my endeavors. Along with you, I will never forget how it felt to be abandoned by the leaders we elected to protect us. Our law enforcement and our firefighters did not have the support and resources that they desperately needed. As we waited in our homes wondering how close the fires would burn, imagine how these public servants felt as they tried to protect Kenosha. When you elect me, I will never let you down.
I will stand up for justice and I will not back down or “toe the line” as some have speculated. Madison and my party need my voice. I am brave and we need bravery now more than ever.
At the end of your term, what would you like to have accomplished?
In addition to what I identified as top issues, my number one goal during this first term is to build trust with my constituents and legislators on both sides of the aisle. I will do that by listening, always telling the truth, working hard, treating people with respect, and acting with integrity and conviction. This is how I live my life. People that have been following me have experienced seeing me in action and they know that I will not let them down. As I establish trust, the sky is the limit on what we can accomplish for our city. I have a track record of reaching out to people who espouse very different views than mine. In every interaction I attempt to learn and grow in my understanding, especially in complicated issues that have many perspectives. My commitment to this will be valuable as we tackle challenges that must be addressed with compassion and common sense.
Why should people vote for you?
Kenosha desperately needs change. I do not represent the status quo and I have what it takes to achieve what Kenosha needs. I am relentless in sticking up for what I believe in and I tackle issues with compassion and common sense. Some have speculated that I will be a rubber stamp for the Republican Party but this isn’t true and my record proves it. The State Capitol is not foreign to me. I have spent many hours working (and winning) in the offices of legislators and I am passionate for our citizens’ success. I can get things done that will impact Kenosha and our people and I will never give up!
Is there anything else you would like voters to know?
You should vote for me because I will be effective. I want to serve our City and our State because I believe that every voice matters. Too often we are led to believe that one person can’t really make that much of a difference and every politician is the same. I am not the same and I am certainly not a member of the “good ole boys” network that has had its way in Kenosha for way too long. I have seen change happen in Madison, especially when we reach across the aisle and seek common ground. I represent common sense and compassion and we desperately need that in times like this. I am a “different shade of red” and I will treat everyone with respect. I will not let you down Kenosha! Please elect me on November 3.
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In addition to our education features, we’ll be kicking off a series of stories highlighting how parents, students, and educators are adapting to the impact of COVID-19 on education. If this is important to you, please consider donating to our education reporting fund. https://business.facebook.com/donate/1846323118855149/3262802717172659/