Elisha Barudin is running as a Democratic challenger in the state Assembly’s 39th District, challenging three-term Republican incumbent Mark Born.
“I have seen so many more people engaged in this midterm election than in any election, so that’s been positive reinforcement that people care and that people are going to get out and vote,” she said.
Barudin, of Beaver Dam, has a background in human resources. She serves on the board of the Beaver Dam Community Hospital Foundation and volunteers with the Beaver Dam Area Community Theatre and the Rotary Club. She also helped organize the Latino Network of Beaver Dam and said she is keeping in touch with the local Latino community through the campaign.
In her campaign, she has held voter registration drives and spoken at various events, meetings and to various groups, including a motorcyclists’ club. She has also knocked on doors around the district, including towns outside the city of Beaver Dam that lean more Republican. She is running a coordinated campaign with other candidates around the state.
Barudin said that, in her conversations with people, she has focused on finding common values and having an open dialogue, regardless of party affiliation.
“Win or lose, I’m never going to stop working in the community toward that goal, getting people informed and engaged,” she said. “I think a lot of elected officials need to hear that and return to community service.”
She said her top issues are education, the environment, health care and the lives of workers.
On education, Barudin said there is a need for a “fair funding” formula, like that proposed by Tony Evers, the Democratic candidate for governor. Under Evers’ proposal, all school districts would see a bump in funding. The formula would seek to account for socioeconomic divides among districts and the money they receive.
Barudin also said she would want to better amplify the voices of workers and unions. She pointed to stagnant wages and to Gov. Scott Walker’s Act 10, which weakened collective bargaining for public employees, including teachers. Barudin said teachers, and others, feel like they aren’t being heard, including locally.
“I see people every day when I’m canvassing or talking to people who are struggling to make ends meet and I think Wisconsin elected officials can do a much better job of taking care of our workers in this state,” she said.
Barudin also said the state needs to reconsider the share of taxes paid by corporations and the wealthy vs. the middle class.
On health care, Barudin said Wisconsin needs to accept full Medicaid expansion as a start toward universal health care. The state of Wisconsin, under Republican Gov. Scott Walker, did not accept federal funding for Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. The state does cover everyone below the poverty line through BadgerCare, but full Medicaid expansion with federal dollars would cover people who live with incomes up to 138 percent of the poverty line.
She also said corporations should provide health care to their part-time employees, which would help reduce the burden of the state to provide health care to lower-income people.
Barudin said she has been seeing a positive response from people who have never engaged in politics before as she campaigns.
“For me that’s touching, but it’s also so powerful,” she said. “The passion that people have and what they’re seeing as a country and a state and a community and wanting to stand up and make their voice heard, that’s the most impactful thing of this campaign. I’ll never forget that. I’m not going anywhere and I’ll always be your community servant as long as I’m here.”