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The 2018 Democratic primary for governor may be crowded, but former State Representative Kelda Roys is confident her record and platform will set her apart.

Roys, 38, announced her bid for governor Dec. 7. She served in the Wisconsin state assembly as a representative for district 81 from 2008 to 2013. Her former district represented northwestern Dane County. She served on several committees, including the State Affairs and Homeland Security, Health and Healthcare Reform, Consumer Protection, Rural Economic Development and Elections and Campaign Reform Committees. She also served as minority caucus chair in the state assembly.

Roys has a law degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has served as Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin. She is a member of Legal Association for Women.

Recently, Roys’ campaign gained attention for featuring a video of her breastfeeding her infant daughter while discussing policy points. Roys said she felt the moment offered insight into the reality of her and her husband’s lives many Wisconsinites can relate to. “Most parents recognize that as a normal part of life,” Roys said. “I think people are ready for their candidates to be real people.”

After leaving the state assembly in 2013, Roys started OpenHomes, a real estate tech company. She currently works as the CEO of the company. OpenHomes aims at “helping to automate parts of the process of buying and selling homes to make it easier and more affordable for people,” Roys said.

Healthcare has been an area of focus for Roys during her time as a state representative and as a candidate. “One of the things I’m most proud of was helping to expand healthcare access to over 80,000 Wisconsinites,” Roys said. “Having access to health insurance, that can be really life or death.”

Roys also said she was proud of “taking a stand against the chemical companies and helping make Wisconsin a leader in eliminating BPA from children’s products is a great accomplishment.”

BPA is short for bisephenol A, an industrial chemical used to make certain plastics, including those used in baby bottles and sippy cups. In 2010, Roys worked to pass a bill banning BPA from baby products.

Roys also voices support for an assault weapons ban and other gun control measures. “I think we should reinstate Wisconsin’s 48 hour waiting period for buying a firearm, I think that we should ban assault weapons as well as high capacity magazines, I think that we should have red flag laws that allow people to petition a judge to temporarily suspend somebody’s gun buying ability,” Roys said. She also called for universal background checks and to restrict firearm purchasing against anyone convicted of violent crime.

If elected, Roys would be the first female governor of Wisconsin. “I think it’s past time that we have women governors all over the country,” Roys sadi. “Right now, only six of 50 governors are women, and that’s really not reflective of our country.” Roys said, regardless of gender, she is the best candidate for the job of governor.

The Foxconn deal was a point of criticism for Roys. “There are really no protections or safeguards in it to ensure we are going to be getting our money’s worth,” Roys said. “We are betting the house on this one kind of technology, this one screen.” With the breakneck pace of technological innovation and the risk of certain products suddenly becoming obsolete, Roys feels the Foxconn deal is too great a risk.

Although she is unabashedly progressive, Roys feels her record shows she is capable of bipartisanship. “I helped to pass the first pro choice law in 30 years in this state,” Roys said. “I did that through persistence and a lot of grassroots support and building coalitions and hard work.”

In the event she does not win the Democratic nomination Roys said she would “enthusiastically work to elect whoever the nominee is.”

A recent Marquette University poll showed 44 percent of likely voters in the Democratic gubernatorial primary were currently undecided. Roys feels the poll is evidence of a “wide open” primary. “The people are looking for someone who has energy and ideas,” Roys said.

The Democratic gubernatorial primary is scheduled for Aug. 14.

You can reach Jake Ekdahl on Twitter @JakeaEkdahl


Juneau County Star-Times reporter

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