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Elections (copy)

Two men are campaigning for the Democratic nod for lieutenant governor in the Aug. 14 primary. The winner will face current Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, who is unopposed in the Republican primary.

Mandela Barnes

Age: 31

Address: 7052 N. Lincolnshire Circle, Milwaukee

Family: Single

Job: Full-time candidate; former legislator, community organizer and policy analyst

Prior elected office: State Assembly District 11

Other public service: Served on the boards of Midwest Environmental Advocates, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Newaukee and other organizations

Education: Bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism, Alabama A&M University

Kurt Kober

Age: 40

Address: 543 Humboldt Ave., Sheboygan

Family: Wife, Abby

Job: Full-time candidate; most recently was leader of digital transformation at The Clorox Co.

Prior elected office: Chairman of the College Democrats of Wisconsin, 1998-99

Other public service: Sheboygan Public Education Foundation board, former board member of a regional arts center

Education: Bachelor’s degree in business administration, UW-Green Bay; master’s degree in marketing, UW-Madison


What distinguishes you from your primary opponent?

Barnes: Experience, history and grassroots support set me apart from my opponent. I’m the only candidate in the race who has served in public office before, has lived in Wisconsin and voted against Scott Walker before (twice), and received the vast majority of my financial support from grassroots donors. My opponent cannot say the same on any of these counts.

Kober: While my opponent is primarily focused on a solely legislative agenda, I believe the office of lieutenant governor has the unique ability to create change through non-legislative channels. This office has been under-utilized by the current administration, and I plan to put it back to work by focusing on building a new economy in Wisconsin by creating partnerships between community organizations, educational institutions, foundations and state agencies.

What would you do to raise the profile of the lieutenant governor’s office?

Barnes: It’s not about raising the profile, but rather raising the effectiveness of the lieutenant governor’s office. Part of that is securing votes for a progressive agenda in the Legislature, but part of that is also utilizing the convening power of the administration to hold listening sessions and town halls across the state regularly.

Kober: I plan to spend the majority of my time traveling the state. I also want to continue to utilize the outreach tactics we’ve been using to have conversations with Wisconsinites throughout my campaign. By pairing new tools like Facebook Live Q&As, Reddit AMAs and strategic digital advertising with town hall meetings and forums, I am dedicated to making sure every Wisconsinite knows this is an office that can get things done.

What issues would you seek to focus on as lieutenant governor?

Barnes: My four main issues are fully funded public education in every community, quality and affordable health care for everyone, restoring environmental protections for future generations, and most of all creating a living-wage, worker-first economy powered by a “green new deal.” This is Wisconsin’s path forward.

Kober: We need to restore the over $1.5 billion cut from our public schools, colleges and universities. We can build the next chapter of education investment and excellence. We simply have to make different choices. It’s not enough to simply replace the $1.5 billion, but we must give the experts — the teachers — time to meet the changing needs and opportunities of our classroom.

State Journal staff

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Ed Treleven is the courts reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.