APPLETON - State Rep. Rachael Cabral-Guevara and Appleton city official Kristen Alfheim are competing in the Nov. 8 election to take over the 19th Senate District seat after Sen. Roger Roth steps down.
Both candidates entered political office in 2021, with Republican Cabral-Guevara elected to the 55th Assembly District and Democratic candidate Alfheim elected to the Appleton Common Council.
Roth, a Republican from Appleton, isn't seeking reelection after seven years in office because he's running for lieutenant governor.
The 19th Senate District includes most of Appleton, western Menasha, Neenah, Fox Crossing, Greenville and Grand Chute.
The Post-Crescent asked each candidate to fill out a questionnaire before the election explaining why they are running and their positions on issues. Some responses were lightly edited for clarity and brevity.
For information about registering to vote and polling locations, visit the MyVote Wisconsin website at myvote.wi.gov.
Occupation: Financial services, Appleton Common Council
Highest level of education: High school and financial services advanced courses
Relevant experience: Over 20 years of teaching relationship-building and problem-solving with diverse people. Ten years of volunteer political advocacy in Madison and Washington, D.C, for the Alzheimer’s Association and the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors. Appleton Common Council committees: Chair of Community Economic Development Safety & Licensing Human Resources/IT. Past committees: Bicycle & Pedestrian Safety, Climate Sustainability and Resilience Taskforce.
Occupation: Nurse practitioner; state Representative of the 55th Assembly District
Highest level of education: Master’s in nursing
Relevant experience: Health care professional, owner of Nurse Practitioner Health Services, LLC, state representative
Why are you running for office?
Alfheim: I am a problem solver and a strong communicator with a history of bringing people and organizations together for the greater good. I believe in balance in government, where tension and disagreement produce conversation and a spirit of collaboration. The Fox Valley deserves a leader who works for everyone.
Cabral-Guevara: My main objective is to ensure accessible, affordable health care for folks in the Fox Valley and around the state. I am also fighting to lower costs for Wisconsin families, keeping our communities safe and making Wisconsin the place my kids want to live for years to come.
What makes you the better candidate in this race?
Alfheim: A senator should want to lead on all major issues in Madison, not just the one that affects their own business. I have the experience, skill and courage to challenge both parties to come together. I am a rational moderate who will represent the entire Fox Valley fiercely.
Cabral-Guevara: As a state representative, I’m experienced not only in getting things done, but in making our communities better places to live, work and raise a family. Additionally, my experience as a mom, nurse and business owner keeps my roots in this community, which would be an honor to continue serving.
What is the most pressing issue facing Wisconsin, and how would you address it?
Alfheim: We need to address the lack of state funding for our municipalities, counties and schools. The state government’s job is to protect, educate and support the people of Wisconsin. If we want safer streets, we need funds in the hands of communities and their police departments. If we want our local roads and water systems repaired and safe: fix the state revenue system. If we want a better quality of life for our children, we need to correct the flow of funds to schools. If we want lower property taxes, we need to end the hoarding of revenue in Madison.
Cabral-Guevara: The number one issue I hear as I speak with folks around the Fox Valley is inflation. The skyrocketing cost of food, gas and rent is hurting everyone. To fix this issue, I plan on returning more tax dollars back to taxpayers in the form of tax cuts, reigning in wasteful government spending, and doing what we can in Wisconsin to resolve the supply chain issue, including encouraging more "Made in Wisconsin" products.
What should Wisconsin do to protect the democratic process and ensure the integrity of its elections?
Alfheim: Volunteers from our communities have worked across political lines for decades without scorn. There are checks and balances at every step of the election process. When we talk about “protecting election integrity” it should not mean “making it harder to vote.” People who have no need for a driver's license should not be prevented from voting. We all want our elections to remain free and fair: Let’s work together to eliminate political drama.
Cabral-Guevara: Legislatively, we can and should do a better job addressing some of the loopholes in our election law that have been exploited by some. I intend to fully support those reform measures next session in the state Senate, and we can finally make them statute with a Republican governor in office. I would also like to continue pushing to keep private dollars out of the administration of our elections. Ultimately, my goal is to make it easy to vote, but hard to cheat.
Would you vote to repeal Wisconsin’s ban on abortions, or to add exemptions to the law, such as for rape and incest victims?
Alfheim: I support repealing the ban. The fact that our Legislature reverted to a pre-Civil War rule, when women and people of color were not allowed to vote, is unacceptable. Republicans, including my opponent, sat silent when given the opportunity to present possible exceptions; instead, they followed their leader and gaveled out to end the session without any discussion. The right to make health decisions is between an individual and their health care professionals – not their neighbor or legislature. No one should be forced into lifelong decisions, especially when the emotional, physical and financial responsibility lies 100% with that individual.
Cabral-Guevara: As a nurse and a mom, I support increasing education on how to prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place. I do think the current abortion state law from 1849 needs to be updated, and needs to include exemptions for rape, incest and life of the mother.
What should state government do about gun violence and crime in Wisconsin?
Alfheim: I was raised on a farm, hunted most of my life and I still enjoy going to the range for sport shooting. Most gun owners I’ve spoken to agree that we need to have a conversation about responsible gun ownership. Many gun owners have told me they believe deeper background checks for people buying high-velocity automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines are reasonable measures to promote safety. Our communities and children need us to have these conversations, and I will be the leader who steps up to drive the discussion in Madison.
Cabral-Guevara: The issue with gun violence in this country can essentially be traced back to one source: mental health. While serving on the Assembly mental health committee, I have worked on legislation to address this issue. We need to provide more support, especially for our kids, so that we can prevent these tragic events from ever occurring. Additionally, I believe we need to better educate the public on responsible gun ownership. As a gun owner myself, I highly recommend securing your firearm away from children and others, in addition to learning how, when and when not to use it.
Would you support policy initiatives to address the impact of climate change in Wisconsin?
Alfheim: Most people assume the danger is so many lifetimes away that they don’t care. The reality is that very small changes in the environment yearly have a gradual, but massive impact on our residents, governments and economies. Our roads buckle more often, our electric grids are stressed, our water management systems are inadequate for flood-level rains. Our rescue teams tend to more families struggling to manage the effects of severe weather. We must include climate sustainability, adaptability and mitigation in all aspects of government. It is not the only priority but is as necessary fiscally as it is scientifically.
Cabral-Guevara: As the past and present owner of hybrids and electric vehicles, I understand the need to reduce the impact of climate change here in the Fox Valley and throughout Wisconsin. In the state Legislature, I helped introduce a bill that would create a community solar program for residents to help lower their energy bills. I also supported legislation that would protect clean water around the state. For my work, I was awarded Water Legislator of the Year by the Wisconsin Water Alliance.
How should state government help Wisconsin residents combat the effects of inflation?
Alfheim: Inflation since 2021 has been caused by pandemic-related supply shortages, the Ukrainian invasion, price gouging and excess cash flow from governments to corporations and individuals to keep them afloat during the shutdown and recovery. Politicians should not be placing the blame or taking credit for the solution. Corporations shouldn’t gouge people. Rising interest rates are used to slow people and corporations from building and buying things, allowing suppliers to catch up, thereby increasing supply available, allowing the reset of normal pricing after a short time. It’s an economic tool that, like a root canal, hurts for a short time.
Cabral-Guevara: Most people know that our rising inflation comes from our federal government, but that doesn’t mean state leaders can’t take action to reduce rising costs. I fought for one of the largest tax cuts in state history this legislative session, which has helped soften the sting inflation has put on Wisconsinites. Next session, I intend to continue cutting more wasteful spending and taxes, as we continue to suffer from this inflation.
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This article originally appeared on Appleton Post-Crescent: Wisconsin Senate candidates discuss abortion, gun control and inflation