The race for the state's 4th Senate District is heating up between two candidates with legislative experience.
Incumbent Sen. Lena Taylor will face off against Rep. Mandela Barnes during the primary election next month.
Both candidates said they view education, promoting economic opportunity and criminal justice reform as key issues facing the district. Taylor and Barnes are Democrats.
Taylor, 50, of Milwaukee was elected to the state Assembly in April 2003 and elected to the state Senate in 2004. Like Taylor, Barnes, 29, was born and raised in Milwaukee. He was sworn in to represent the state's 11th Assembly District in 2013.
The 4th Senate District includes the Village of Shorewood, portions of Wauwatosa, Glendale, and the north and northwestern parts of Milwaukee.
According to the Government Accountability Board, offices on the Aug. 9 ballot include U.S. senator, U.S. representative, even-numbered state Senate seats, all Wisconsin Assembly seats, and all district attorneys. Independent candidates names do not appear on the partisan primary ballot, but will be on the ballot in November.
The candidates were limited to 50-word responses. If their answers exceeded the word limit, they were edited.
Why are you the best candidate for the position?
Barnes: I will provide fresh, transformational leadership with a vision to not only address our serious challenges, but also unlock the untapped potential of the greater Milwaukee area. We have seen a lack of leadership from my opponent on the key issues that matter to us most.
Taylor: In his four years in office, my opponent has never passed a bill. I've had 101 bills become law, delivered hundreds of millions of dollars to the district, only legislator to maintain a district office, helped with job creation, economic development and passed laws to improve public safety.
What are the biggest issues facing the 4th District and how do you plan to address them?
Barnes: My key priorities in the legislature have been keeping our communities safe and healthy, promoting economic opportunity, and fighting for strong public education. Specifically, I have and will continue to work to raise the minimum wage, advocating for racial justice, bring forward bold corrections and criminal justice reform.
Taylor: Education, public safety, employment and justice reform. Previously securing $130 million for funding for public schools, I will fight to bring resources to classrooms, look to pass additional public safety legislation, expand my work on job creation, and identify more options to reduce recidivism and return individuals to the workforce.
If elected, what is your first plan of action? What are your first steps?
Barnes: I am proud to have authored many bold, progressive pieces of legislation that promote the biggest issues facing Milwaukee while in office and will work with the community to come out of the gate doing so once again as state senator. I am ready for action on day one.
Taylor: Implement my initiative, Love & Faith, which is designed to align service delivery models, eliminate silos and create a direct pipeline to resource HUB's in the community to address many of the issues that residents face. We should make it as easy as possible for residents to interact with government.