June 28, 2018

Chronotype: Life, Job Experiences Prompt Holzman to Run

From the June 27, 2018 Rice Lake Chronotype:

Ali Holzman may he a new name on the Wisconsin political scene, but she is not a newcomer to public service.

Holzman worked as an aide in the Minnesota State Senate to two senators from west-central Minnesota--Gary Kubly and Lyle Koenen, both of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor party.

A Democrat running for the Wisconsin Assembly, Holzman said she learned a lot about legislating from Kubly and Koenen. "I’ve seen the difference between a public servant and a politician," said Holzman, a rural Cumberland resident. She gave the example of Koenen continuing to drive a milk truck and school bus in his home district while serving in Senate.

Currently Holzman works on behalf of another class of public servants--teachers. She works in the Rice Lake office of the Wisconsin Educators Association Council teachers union.

More investment in public education is central to Holzman's campaign. She is especially concerned about the growth of the state’s private school voucher program, which has expanded from Milwaukee to the rest of the state, including St Joseph's School in Rice Lake.

"We've had a K-12 public education system that has served us well, but for the past however many years they’re creating a separate system with these vouchers. That will have a devastating impact on our kids and our communities,” said Holzman.

She also advocated for better pay for teachers. When asked about Wisconsin Superintendent of Schools and gubernatorial candidate Tony Evers’ proposal to cut legislator pay to the same level as first-year teachers, Holzman said, “I don’t disagree, but pay the teacher more.”

She added, "These are people with professional licenses doing 10 different jobs every day. They need to be paid well.”

Life Experiences

Holzman said her views on education and other issues are influenced by people she’s met and her own struggles. "I have pretty strong personal political beliefs, and they’re mostly based in my life experiences," said Holzman.

Holzman, 31, said that despite graduating from college in 3.5 years and getting a job in her field, she still has student loan debt. Raising a child, Olivia, has also added to her financial burden. But Holzman said she knows many others in the area have tougher challenges.

“When I think about people who didn't have the same opportunities and don't have a job with a decent wage and benefits, I can't imagine how hard it is for them,” she said.

Holzman said she quickly realized the level of local poverty after moving to Cumberland with her boyfriend Scott 2 years ago. "I was pretty shocked to see the low pay and no benefits for a lot of jobs," she said.

But Holzman was also aware of the shortage of workers in the area. She said those problems could be addressed by focusing on expanding broadband access, maintaining infrastructure, finding ways to increase wages and addressing educational issues.

"Having fully funded public schools in all our rural communities that offer every child an outstanding education and new opportunities is an absolute draw for young families,” said Holzman.

Regarding student debt, she said, "When kids have to take on a huge burden of student debt to get a degree, they often times can’t afford to live in rural areas when the jobs there don’t pay nearly enough for them to live and to make their student loan payments.”

Holzman said she favors investing in educating people rather than in companies like Foxconn. The Legislature, including 75th District incumbent Republican Romaine Quinn, voted to give the Taiwan-based electronics manufacturer a $3 billion incentive to build a facility near Racine.

“I was flabbergasted that he voted for the Foxconn deal,” said Holzman, referring to Quinn. “I don’t see how people from around here benefit from that. Why not invest in ourselves?”

Holzman said it was such decisions that prompted her to challenge for a spot in the Assembly.

“I realized that I should step up. I feel like I have life experiences that a lot of people around here have had, and that some of those voices aren’t being heard and aren’t being represented the best. I felt that maybe I should put myself out there and give people another option,” she said.

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