MILWAUKEE — Mandela Barnes, Sarah Godlewski, Alex Lasry, Kou Lee, Tom Nelson, Steven Olikara, Peter Peckarsky, and Darrell Williams are all fighting to unseat Wisconsin U.S. Senator Ron Johnson in 2022. Ahead of the primary election on Aug. 9, TMJ4 News will host a debate on July 17 at Marquette University.
Five candidates are confirmed for the July 17 Senate debate: Lt. Gov Mandela Barnes, State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, Milwaukee Bucks executive Alex Lasry, Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, and Millennial Action Project Founder & Former CEO Steven Olikara.
Three candidates who are hoping to beat Senator Johnson did not meet TMJ4's criteria to participate in the live debate, but they will still be on the ballot on Aug. 9.
They are Kou Lee, Darrell Williams and Peter Peckarsky. We want to take the time to introduce each of them to you.
Kou Lee met with TMJ4's Ryan Jenkins along the river walk in Green Bay for a discussion on his priorities.
"I think that 12 years is enough. I am one of those individuals who think it's time for Ron Johnson to move on," said Lee.
Lee is a Hmong refugee who fled to the U.S. as a child and went on to become an educated father and American businessman.
"I think people want somebody that is honest, trustworthy, that is inclusive," said Lee.
On education, Lee says it is time to focus on three areas: Community outreach, environment and cultural responsibility. He said focusing on those three areas could help address low test scores and the ongoing teaching shortage.
"You think about it, how come there's no teachers in rural areas? Well, you have to pay them to go teach there; inner city too," said Lee.
On inflation, Lee believes corporations should be taxed more when they make millions, sometimes billions, of dollars, but don't invest profits back into people.
And, on the topic of abortion access, Lee says his stance is personal.
"As long as my mom, my wife, my sisters and my daughters are not free, I'm not free," he said.
You can learn more about Kou Lee on his campaign website by clicking HERE.
At the state's Democratic convention in La Crosse in June 2022, we also heard from Darrell Williams. He had similar points on many of these topics.
He has spent the past two years as the administrator of the Division of Wisconsin Emergency Management.
Williams' stance on access to abortions is clear.
"Being angry is not a strategy, we must vote. I have a daughter, I have a wife, I have a mother and I believe in the woman's right to choose," he said.
As a veteran, Williams is clear when it comes to conversations about funding the police.
"I don't believe in de-funding the police. They don't have any money and I know that," said Williams at the convention.
On education, Williams believes it's time to advocate for higher teacher pay and believes it's important to focus on the concept of "belonging," both in the classroom and in the community.
"Diverse is who we are, inclusion is having a seat at the table, but belonging is when those voices at the table are actually being heard," he said.
Williams also said he has plans to lead efforts to bridge the racial divide in Wisconsin and across the nation, and that he's ready to fight for justice and equity for all people.
You can learn more about Darrell Williams on his website by clicking HERE.
Milwaukee native Peter Peckarsky was at the convention, too. His priorities right now also include protecting a woman's right to access an abortion.
"I support the autonomy of women and girls and I am outraged by the illegalities that will deny them the protections of the U.S. Constitution," he said at the convention.
He also supports universal access to health care as a basic human right, building back Wisconsin's education system and gun reform.
This lawyer and long-time progressive Democrat also spent a large chunk of his political career dedicated to election security.
"Since January, my campaign has been in court addressing issues Democrats face given the Wisconsin constitution and election laws," he said.
You can learn more about Peter Peckarsky on his website by clicking HERE.