Meet the candidates for Wisconsin’s Senate District 26

MADISON, Wis. Seven Democrats are running to replace outgoing Democratic state Sen. Fred Risser in the August primary, and with no Republican or Independent challenger in November, the winner in a few weeks will likely take office.

26th District

The candidates are Aisha Moe, a recent college graduate and field organizer for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin; Nada Elmikashfi, a former staffer for Gov. Tony Evers; Amani Burris , a small business owner and former field organizer for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin; Brian Benford, a former Madison alderperson and success coach for the UW-Madison Odyssey Project; Kelda Roys, a small business owner and former state representative; William Davis III; and John Imes, the executive director of Wisconsin Environmental Initiative.

News 3 Now asked the candidates about what sets them apart, handling the pandemic, policing reform and working across the aisle and with a limited budget.

Moe’s platform focused on climate change, student debt and social justice, and she said when it comes to policing the state should put resources in other community tools as well.

“Instead of putting all this pressure on our police force, what we need to be doing is sort of taking the pressure away so they can focus on keeping our communities safe and doing that in the very specific way that they know how to,” she said. “And let the social workers keep the community safe in the way they know how to, and letting educators have access to the things they know how to do to make children feel safe.”

Elmikashfi also made social justice a key part of her platform, also looking at income inequality, affordable housing and education. She said she decided to run because she saw a gap in leadership.

“I saw many communities in the city that were not reached out to, that were not asked ‘How are you doing?’ or ‘What can we do to help you?’” she said.

Burris said her campaign is about being united in our differences, and she said her experience working for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin in conservative Waukesha help her find common ground with others.

“How we get away from the political spectrum, the tug of war is we have conversations,” she said. “It’s going to be done in conversation. It’s going to be listening. And it’s going to be listening to people that we don’t agree with.”

Benford said he is running to fight for economic, racial and environmental justice for all Wisconsinites. He said he agrees with how Evers has handled the pandemic.

“We really have to follow the medical science,” he said. “That’s the number one practical way of getting out of COVID-19. It’s not through government policies; it’s not through anything other than following the visceral, practical science that’s been laid out.”

Roys is the only candidate running who has experience in the state Legislature, having served as a representative for Madison from 2008 to 2013.

“We want people who know what the job is,” she said. “It actually is pretty hard to make progressive policy into law when Republicans have gerrymandered our state beyond recognition, but that’s something I’ve been able to do again and again in my career.”

Imes said he is a progressive with a focus on climate policy. He picked up the endorsement of Tia Nelson, the daughter of former Gov. Gaylord Nelson, but he said his economic background will set him apart. He said he supports police reform.

“I support justice in policing. I support what the governor proposed, banning chokeholds and no-knock searches and all the things that are there. I’d like to see more there on racial profiling. I’d like to see a requirement for police to have body cameras.”

Davis did not return a request for comment. The primary is scheduled for Aug. 11.