Q: What motivated you to run for this office?
A: Tenacity, determination, responsibility, and public service are woven into my life’s journey. I have brought those values to all I have done. I know firsthand that hope and hard work create a better future.
As a small business owner, an executive at non-profit organizations, a public servant, and as a leader in public-private partnerships, my focus has been on solving problems, collaborating respectfully, advocating for our shared values, and finding solutions that move us forward. That is what I want to do as Wisconsin’s next Lieutenant Governor.
I was born in Long Cheng, Laos in 1971 during the Vietnam War. Because of the Hmong’s alliance with the United States during the war, we were targeted for genocide at the end of the Vietnam war in May of 1975. My family fled through dense jungle under the cover of night to Thailand.
I lived at the Ban Vinai Refugee camp in Thailand. Life was hard in the refugee camp. My parents made the brave decision to emigrate to America order to seek the chance of a better life in America. We landed in Des Moines, Iowa on December 12, 1976. We became United States Citizens in 1986.
I want to put my skills and experience to work for all Wisconsinites. As a public servant, I am a strong advocate for building strong communities, helping small business succeed, and increasing access to quality health care.
Currently, I am the CEO and co-founder of The Hmong Institute, a statewide non-profit that works to close gaps in education and increase access to health care. My professional career includes owning a small business. I got my start in community organizing as the Executive Director of a neighborhood planning council fighting to remove PFAFS from our drinking water. At the world renown Institute for Research on Poverty at UW Madison, I oversaw outreach for a cutting-edge program designed to help eliminate poverty. And at the Urban League of Greater Madison, I led the Promise Zone initiative started under President Barack Obama.
It has been an honor to be a strong partner to Governor Evers. He appointed me to his Early Childhood Advisory Council because of my passion and leadership in early childhood education. I also served on Gov Evers’ What’s Best for Kids committee to advise his transition team on policies for children and families. My wife and I have three children who are now young adults. We live on Madison’s north side.
Q: What relevant experience do you have for this position?
A: Many people urged me to run for Lt. Governor because the combination of my diverse executive experience, lived experience, and ability to organize and energize voters make me the strongest candidate.
As an executive, I’ve led diverse teams and created public-private partnerships. As a small business owner, I met a payroll and learned firsthand about what it takes to make a business succeed. My work and leadership has changed policy at the national, state and local level. I have statewide experience being appointed to Governor Evers’ Early Childhood Advisory Council and What’s Best for Kids Committee to advise his transition team on policy for children and family. I also serve on the Racial Equity Working Group on Homelessness. Locally, I have served on County and City committee and commissions. My career has been about making communities stronger.
Currently, I am the CEO of the Hmong Institute, a non-profit that provides training and education to improve health care and educational achievements for communities of color throughout Wisconsin.
My background also includes leading community development and promise zone initiatives as well as overseeing outreach for a cutting-edge program at UW Madison designed to help eliminate poverty.
Voters are excited by my candidacy. Our campaign is strong and inclusive. Our campaign gathered more than 3100 signatures to put my name on the ballot, more than any other candidate in my primary. I bring a new voice and a new face to State politics which will help us win in November.
I know how to work with people to get things done and solve tough problems. I am a tenacious fighter who will stand up for our shared values. I want to put these skills to work for the people of Wisconsin and to ensure we re-elect Governor Evers.
Q: What is the most important function of this office?
A: As Lieutenant Governor, I will be a strong partner to Governor Evers and his administration. I would look forward to hearing from the Governor regarding the areas on which he’d like me to focus my skills and experience. As an immigrant, and as a member of Wisconsin’s growing Hmong Community, I would advocate for a role in helpful in ensuring Wisconsin is a welcoming place to immigrants. Our policies – for example on drivers licenses – should be a signal to immigrants that we value their contributions and potential to help enrich the culture and energize the economy of our State. I will make sure everyone has a seat and a voice at the table.
Q: What are your highest priorities?
A: Defending reproductive rights; ending gun violence, increasing access to health care; making quality childcare more accessible and available; supporting our family farms and small businesses, fully funding our public schools; protecting and defending our right to vote and our democracy; and ensuring sure everyone has a seat at the table.
Q: How will you ensure good communication with the governor so you are prepared to take office in case of emergency?
A: I have worked with the Governor and his team as a strong partner, serving on the Governor’s Early Childhood Advisory Council and on Gov Evers’ What’s Best for Kids committee to advise his transition team on policies for children and families. As his Lt. Governor, I will ensure that the lines of communication are created and remain open between us and between our staffs. I look forward to regular meetings with the Governor.
Q: What concerns you most about the recent attacks on voting rights and election administrators?
A: As a person who came to Wisconsin fleeing genocide, enduring life in a refugee camp, I value my democracy and my right to vote. However, Wisconsin’s Voter ID law and election laws being introduced by Republicans are designed to disenfranchise voters who look like me and seniors who are in nursing homes and cannot make it to the election booth. The intent of these laws is to keep themselves in power.
As Lt. Governor I will stand up to Republicans when it comes to voter suppression. Every day I work to create a true democracy in Wisconsin. As the CEO of The Hmong Institute, we help individuals become citizens so they can vote. I will fight to make sure people have access to voting and end gerrymandering. We must get money out of politics by overturning Citizens United. Diversity makes our State is better as it allow for new ideas, new voices, and innovation. A true democracy reflects the diversity of the people it serves.
Q: Are there more steps, besides those that Governor Evers has already taken, that the state can do to help people who are really struggling with the economic impact of inflation, gas prices, housing prices, and stagnant wages?
A: I applaud the Governor who has done significant work in directing Federal and State dollars to assist families, businesses, access to broadband, schools with economic recovery, job loss, affordable housing, health care, and infrastructure. He is hampered, as is the State, by the extremists in the legislature who obstruct and prevent good bills from passing. We must elect more Democrats and preserve the veto-proof majority.
We also need to continue to work to end systemic economic disparity in Wisconsin and the United States. We should expand Medicaid. We should lower the cost of prescription drugs including insulin. We also need to adopt a family supporting policy agenda that helps working families across the board including expanding the availability and affordability of childcare; raising the minimum wage; and building more affordable housing and workforce housing.
As the former chair of Communities United, I worked on the front lines of social justice to ensure equality for access to wealth, opportunity, and social privileges.
At the Institute for Research on Poverty I oversaw outreach on a cutting-edge program designed to eliminate poverty. I worked on LIFT WI to provide efficient, technology driven legal assistance to clear civil legal barriers to economic prosperity for Wisconsin families, to transform legal and court systems to prevent economic drags, and to contribute to national reform movements to improve access to civil legal justice. I also worked with Parsley – Opportunity Calculator to address benefits cliffs when an employee gets a raise or promotion that causes them to lose their benefits but the increase in income is not enough to cover the loss of the public benefit.
As a recipient of the Dane County and City of Madison Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Humanitarian Award, I have spent most of my adult life working for social justice and equal rights. As a member of the Racial Equity Working Group on Homelessness, I have helped lead efforts to identify opportunities to promote racial equity in the homelessness system by studying and reviewing policy and making recommendations to the State of Wisconsin Interagency Council on Homelessness.
As Lt. Governor I will use my lived experience and my executive leadership to work for all the people of Wisconsin.
Q: How do you propose to protect reproductive choice for all people?
A: I am pro-choice and I unequivocally support reproductive rights. It was the first issue I mentioned in my speech to the Democratic Convention. I am the board President of Access Community Health Centers which provides reproductive health care. I support and applaud the lawsuit Attorney General Kaul has filed and support efforts in the legislature to repeal Wisconsin's archaic law that criminalizes abortion in most all cases including rape and incest. We must re-elect Governor Evers and AG Kaul this fall so that they can continue to exercise their power to thwart the extremists in the legislature. I will be a strong partner to Governor Evers in our efforts to defend access to abortions. I will be a strong voice for reproductive rights and will do all I can to help elect pro-choice candidates up and down the ballot this fall.
Q: Wisconsin is one of the worst states in the nation for Black maternal mortality, and is the worst state in which to raise a black child. How can we change that?
A: We should pass the Birth Equity Act introduced by Rep. Stubbs and Senator Johnson that reduces barriers to care for mothers and babies and increases access to quality maternity care including access to doulas. We should expand Medicaid.
I currently work with the Foundation for Black Women’s Wellness in Madison and Black Child Development Institute in Milwaukee to address Black infant mortality rate. We are in the process of creating a statewide coalition of BIPOC agencies to be able to change policy at the state level on decreasing infant mortality and how to best support raising BIPOC children.
We must also recognize racism it as a systemic issue and act on the knowledge that structural change is necessary. We must ensure that we are investing necessary resources in initiatives that have been shown to close gaps rather than reinventing the wheel. We must get involved in local elections and politics and support candidates who can and will be part of necessary change. We must prioritize policies that will have a disproportionately positive impact on people and families of color including paid family leave, raising the minimum wage, implementing living wage policies, and reforming the tax code.
Q: How will you promote students’ wellbeing and inclusion in Wisconsin’s schools, and keep Wisconsin from harmful legislation such as Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill?
A: We must re-elect Governor Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul, who stand between us and the extremists in the State Legislature. Our schools should be safe, welcoming, and inclusive places for all students. As Lt Governor I will support strengthening the Affordable Care Act and would oppose any effort to allow insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions and the LGBTQ community. I know that transgender and gender-nonconforming people have a hard time securing affordable healthcare. I currently advocate and work to end discrimination in healthcare and make sure services are culturally responsive to communities of color. I would continue this work as Lt. Governor.
Q: If you do not win the primary election, will you support the candidate who does?