State Rep. LaTonya Johnson is the best candidate to represent this Milwaukee Northwest Side district, which is currently represented by retiring Sen. Nikiya Harris Dodd. First elected in 2012, Johnson has proven herself as an effective progressive legislator.
Johnson, 44, earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and previously owned and operated an in-home child care center for more than 10 years. In 2006, as a volunteer organizer, she helped create Milwaukee’s first union of childcare-providers. High-quality early childhood education is among her priorities, since it “provides a solid foundation for future learning and achievement.” She told WiG, “We need to talk about kids we lose before they enter middle school.”
The representative also believes MPS must be funded appropriately to give all children an opportunity to succeed, rather than increasingly diverting money away from MPS.
Johnson also supports a statewide mandate that charter and voucher schools receiving taxpayer funding must offer the federal free-and-reduced-lunch program. She said this will help ensure that all families can equitably access this crucial anti-poverty resource regardless of what publicly funded school they attend.
Johnson’s other priorities include criminal-justice reform and public safety (including keeping guns out of the hands of criminals), access to quality health care and economic development. She stresses the importance of small businesses and family-supporting jobs, including ones located within urban neighborhoods and accessible to people without cars.
Johnson’s opponents are Milwaukee School Board member Michael Bonds and Thomas Harris. Johnson has the strongest progressive bona fides in addition to experience in state government. Despite being part of the legislative minority, Johnson has coauthored nine bills that passed and became law during her four-year tenure. Her experience as a small-business owner and community activist, as well as her ability to work collaboratively, will also serve her well in the state Senate.
Endorsements include AFSCME Council 32, EMILY’s List, Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, Wisconsin Working Families Party, Mayor Tom Barrett and state Sen. Nikiya Harris Dodd.