As the son of a Lutheran pastor, speaking and advocating on behalf of communities without a voice who don’t give big campaign donations is why Tom entered into public service. He is committed to fighting for every community in Wisconsin.
While Wisconsin has a proud progressive history, it also has some of the worst racial disparity statistics in the country. That is unacceptable. COVID exposed once again that minority communities were disproportionately impacted with higher rates of death. Wisconsin has the highest rate of black imprisonment in the U.S. (1 of every 36 Wisconsinites) and leads the nation in infant mortality for black babies. Tom believes the best way to help address these shameful facts is through 1.) stopping the outsourcing of good family-supporting jobs that has impacted many black communities struggling with deindustrialization and 2.) passing Medicare for All to ensure health care for all that will dramatically decrease the gap between white and non-white Americans for health outcomes. Medicare was a historic achievement for the civil rights movement and now Medicare for All must be the goal if we are truly serious about eliminating health disparities once and for all.
Other reforms needed to close the racial gap include investing in affordable housing, funding more accessible and better public education, legalizing marijuana and reforming the criminal justice system. A Blue-Green New Deal should prioritize racial equity so that projects such as the expansion of the I-94 highway should be opposed in favor of a more sustainable vision that expands public transportation and reduces pollution.
Outagamie County has welcomed immigrants and refugees and we are proud of our diverse communities. Our government should prioritize humane immigration policy that treats people with dignity and respect. Few politicians are addressing the root causes of this problem. Instead, they are using Trump’s Title 42 to continue our broken immigration policy. The United States has coddled Central American dictators and despots over the years, many of whom run oppressive regimes that threaten and kill dissidents and whole communities sending them to the U.S. border for asylum. Corporate globalization free trade agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA have fueled migration as well by driving farmers off the land. There’s a reason Republicans have never brought up a real immigration bill to fix the problem – because their business model depends on exploiting workers.
Wisconsin has a rich history of LGBTQ+ activism and advances, including passing the nation’s first state-wide gay rights law in 1982, which outlawed discrimination in housing and employment based on sexual orientation.
In 2006, Wisconsin voted overwhelmingly to approve an amendment to the state constitution banning same-sex marriage. At the time, Tom was in his first term in the Assembly. Despite representing a red district, Tom chose to vote against the ban when it came before the legislature, even when some of his Democratic colleagues supported it. One of the highlights of his public service career was getting to marry couples in 2014 after Wisconsin’s gay marriage ban was struck down.
Despite all the progress made on LGBTQ issues, we see a resurgence of backwards and mean-spirited legislation being passed attacking trans children and “Don’t say gay” bills. In the Senate, Tom will continue fighting for dignity for all communities from those who would scapegoat them for political gain.
Read Tom’s Medium post on fighting for true LGBTQ+ equality here.
Wisconsin has 11 federally recognized tribes. Indigenous treaty rights have been under assault in the last decade. In the Senate, Tom will be their advocate when it comes to water rights, fishing rights, and access to tribal lands. This country owes them an enormous debt of gratitude. Often they are the only group with standing that successfully brings suits against oil or mining companies. We saw that on full display with the so-called Back Forty Mine in the upper peninsula. The Menomoniee’s dogged pursuit of litigation is the reason why the project was eventually scrapped.
New legislation is needed to empower and recognize tribes currently without status, ratify treaties that were never signed, and fully comply with the treaties that have been ratified. If these priorities are captured in legislation and coupled with support for indigenous development, education, and labor, the lives of indigenous peoples throughout the United States will be improved and protected. Tom fully supports expanding pioneering food sovereignty efforts that can help create jobs while providing culturally appropriate and nutritious diets. He is the only U.S. Senate candidate to oppose Enbridge’s Line 3 and Line 5 pipeline projects as violating tribal sovereignty, threatening our water supply while contributing to catastrophic climate change.
- Pass Medicare for All and a Blue-Green New Deal to attack racial disparities in health care and environmental justice
- Legalize cannabis and expunge criminal records for marijuana convictions
- Reform trade, foreign and military aid and tie to human rights so people aren’t forced to flee desperate conditions in repressive regimes.
- Enforce border security while allowing for legitimate political asylum.
- There should be a pathway to citizenship for those who pay taxes and are productive members of society, raising families and contributing to the livelihood and vitality of our communities. We ought to bring them out of the shadows and recognize them as citizens.
- Pass the EQUALITY Act to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Oppose mean-spirited laws targeting trans children.
- Oppose Line 3 and Line 5 as harmful to tribal sovereignty.
- Seek a position on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee to fight for Wisconsin’s tribal communities.
- As County Executive, Tom created the position of a diversity, equity and inclusion coordinator, one of just a few Wisconsin counties to do so and the only red county to have one.
- Established close ties with the Oneida Nation, respecting tribal sovereignty while collaborating on social, economic and legal issues
- Helped pass in-state tuition to children of undocumented immigrants — a precursor to today’s DREAM Act.
- Pushed through the Indian Mascot Bill that gave a venue for people of color to object to and remove racial or ethnic sports’ mascots.
- Introduced the Hmong education bill that required school districts to teach Hmong history and ensure our children learn about their important contributions to our country’s history. He is currently leading efforts to build a memorial in Outagamie County to honor the Hmong veterans from the Vietnam War.
- Voted against the Constitutional Amendment in 2006 to outlaw gay marriage. While other Democrats voted with the Republicans, Tom held firm against discrimination.
- As Outagamie County Executive in 2014, after Wisconsin’s gay marriage ban was struck down, Tom went to the county clerk’s office to help the clerk process the new marriage applications.