Get to Know: State Senate Candidate Kristin Alfheim

Robert Barthell, Assistant Editor-in-Chief

Satellite: Welcome, Candidate Alfheim. Could you tell us why you are running for this position?

Alfheim:  I am a believer in balance, civility and taking care of people. So, I joined this race not as someone who is angry or has an individual issue, but as someone who has been very good at communicating and helping people problem solve from various and diverse backgrounds. So, it’s something that I have done my entire career and I thought, why not bring it to this time in our politics where we could get along perhaps a little bit better and get some progress done?

Satellite: Speaking of your career, would you mind talking about some of the relevant experiences you have had before running?

Alfheim: I actually grew up on a farm, in mid-central Wisconsin, so I understand hard work very well. I picked rock, and I made hay, I did all the things you do on a farm. Then I actually worked in a restaurant, through high school, and through college, and then I actually ended up joining the insurance and financial services industry. And very soon into my career, I started teaching and training advisers and agents on how to do their jobs. So, how to ask good questions, how to identify what the problems are, and how to offer great solutions for the clients.

Satellite: And could you explain what qualities you would have or what policy proposals of yours would make you better than your opponent?

Alfheim: Sure. And there are two questions there; one is what makes me better and the other is about policies. So, my policy belief is people before corporations. I’m a fan of understanding what the people need; whether it be from a services aspect or city/municipality services, whether it be individual choice and decision-making process. I’m a fan of people having rights. From a personal standpoint, I think it helps when you have somebody going into politics that doesn’t have a singular idea of what to work on. My answer is to help create relationships so people can get some things going and actually get things accomplished like we used to.

Satellite: What are the main issues that you will pledge to fight for; if elected, what are your main priorities?

Alfheim: I mean, the obvious thing is that national news has to do with Roe; I’m a supporter of people having choices to do what they need to do in a very private, personal situation. In general, I think that we have a major issue in Madison, where people don’t really understand what’s going on, there’s a lot of blame on the governor’s part, but realistically, no matter what the governor tries to do, the legislature is the one that has to release the dollars. So this large budget excess that we have is not truly excess; it’s actually revenue that used to, 10 years ago, come to the schools, come to the municipalities, for roads, for water systems, for the police departments, for the fire departments. That money used to take care of us, as individual families in our localities, and I’m going to push to try to make that come back.

Satellite: So you initially mentioned Roe (v. Wade) being an issue. Can we hear your thoughts on the current 1849 abortion law in Wisconsin that largely bans the practice?

Alfheim: 1849 was a very long time ago. And, to go back to a rule where women, people of color, people didn’t have the right to vote, much less representation, there was no thought for anybody else except for the classic white male. Now we’ve come a long way since then, don’t you think our decision-making and our laws should come with that?

Satellite: Coming into this election, aside from Roe what do you think is the biggest issue on people’s minds and how will you respond to it?

Alfheim: I talk to a lot of people. I just came off of knocking on 40 doors, and I’m going to go out and knock on another 27 when we’re done here; that’s my outfit. But what I hear, is that people are tired of the anger; they’re tired of not being able to have a conversation about what’s important with them.  It’s time that we settled down, go back to finding commonality and working forward together for the good of the people.  People are tired of all the noise on the edges, most of us have far more in common than we do different and that’s who we want in charge: people that understand and will listen to all sides, make rational decisions for the most people possible, without beating up on the heads that are paying for it.

Satellite: You mentioned finances at the very last moment; your opponent has made the issue of, particularly, inflation, a central issue to her campaign.  Would you have comments about what you would do as a State Senator to combat inflation?

Alfheim: You hear on the news and read on the signs, every ad that involves the word “inflation” but the reality is that inflation is an economic tool.  Now don’t get me wrong, it hurts when a loaf of bread costs more money, we all are going through it.  But we have to realize there is a once-in-a-generation situation that has caused it, you have interest rates that were held artificially low for too long, you have the pandemic that came along and caused the supply chain issue.   And then you have the flooding of cash into the economy because of the pandemic.  That is a recipe for disaster, it doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t have happened, but it means those three things together, we have to go through the pain of letting the supply chain catch up which means we are forcefully slowing down building to let it catch up which is the raising of interest rates.  So we have to remember that inflation is a tool used in our economy that comes to an end shortly.  Once we get beyond looking at today’s inflation, we have a lot more long-term issues left.

Satellite: Your opponent largely argues, in previous question and answer sessions that have been published on our website, that one main method of combatting this inflation is to reduce “wasteful spending” on the part of the federal government.  Do you agree with this assessment?

Alfheim: I think that wasteful spending and inflation don’t have anything to do with each other, they’re two separate issues.  I am a fan of removing duplicity in government, I don’t think that we need duplication, I think leaning out any organization is valid.  The idea that all government is wasteful is completely false and is purely a narrative that you hear.  I’ve been on city council in Appleton for a year and a half, and I assure you we are not wasteful.  There is far less flow of cash in revenue coming from the state, which is forcing us to pinch pennies and have to raise taxes.  If we fix the revenue issue in Madison, we would no longer have to raise taxes, in fact we could even lower them.

Satellite: On your website, you mention support for tuition forgiveness for post-secondary education.  Would this restructuring of the state financial system be a way you would pay for that?

Alfheim: I love the idea of people, families and business working together for the good of our community.  The reality is that our employers, our companies, need workers.  We need education to get there.  I would love to see the idea of a tuition forgiveness program, there are small pieces of this around the state, where if you go to school, whether it would be 2 years or 4 years, and it’s in a career that we need in the state of Wisconsin.  If you graduate and go to work for a period of time in Wisconsin, you are thereby giving back to your community, I believe we can wipe some of that off.  It becomes a symbiotic relationship between education, the workforce, and our general population.  I think that’s good for us, so I think things have to work together.

Satellite: Your opponent has expressed support in changing the voting process under the pretense of election security, what do you believe in this regard?

Alfheim: Everyone wants safe and trustworthy elections.  In the state of Wisconsin, there have been, it’s not an exact number, but I’m going to say less than 10 cases of fraudulent voters, and not all on one side.   Ten, out of I believe…how many million?  3.3, 3.6 million votes.  So, are there going to be a bad apple every now and then?  Yes?  Do we spend millions of dollars chasing a ghost?  No.  Do we put false fears into people about our voting systems?  No!  These are our family members, our volunteers, our city clerks who live in our towns that have been doing a really good job helping us to have a safe, honest and smooth-running election for decades.  And all of a sudden there seems to be an issue.  Is there an issue, or is it just that people are putting fear on other people’s minds?  I think that we need to stop the politics, go back to just taking care of each other, being kind to one another, and let people continue doing their jobs as they have been doing dutifully for decades.

Satellite: Are there any other political or economic issues on your mind that you would like to discuss?

Alfheim:  I think we have to talk about science and history a little bit.  I am a believer in both.  We’re sitting in the midst of a library; I do believe libraries should give the opportunity to learn, to explore, to be curious.  The biggest difference between people that are judgmental and people that are curious; judgmental people don’t look for other sides of the story.  Curious people want to know more, and want to know why.  It doesn’t necessarily change them, but it allows them to experience things that they may not run into by themselves.  I think that’s important.  Science is real.  Now it is not the only issue; we have to blend our science and sustainability conversations in with the rest of what we do in Madison, but we can’t pretend we don’t have a problem that’s creeping up on us.  And I think it’s okay to start saying that and most people want to do that.

Satellite: What legislation would you support, if any, to combat the rising effects of global warming and climate change?

Alfheim: I’m a supporter of the rules that are in right now that say, carbon neutral by, I believe the answer is 2050.  So I absolutely support that.  If we can get it done sooner, I’m not against that, but we always have to remember that we have a lot that we have to take care of.  I want to make sure that we hit that mark, if not a little bit sooner.  But we can’t only focus on science, we have to fix roads, we also have to fix schools, we also have to do these things, but science must be involved, the climate has to be considered in everything we do from now on.  It should be part of the process, not a secondary thought and not a primary thought; a part in every discussion.

Satellite: Would there be anything else you are interested in talking about?

Alfheim: I love that you have enough curiosity to ask these questions.  I wish that everybody did, there’s a lot of nonsense on TV.  And I think the opportunity to have someone face-to-face and ask questions, and let our guts work again in telling us who these people are and how we want to vote, is really where we want to go back to.  Right now people are voting based on signs.  Signs don’t tell you a gut feeling, they just tell you what they want to tell you.  So, reach deeper; read interviews, watch interviews, find out who the people are, before you make judgements.  Ignore what the title is, instead go to the person and listen to what they stand for and then find out who you most recognize right now.

I think the reality is that we’re supposed to be working together, and when we’re screaming at each other no one is listening, and when we aren’t listening we can’t make progress, so we’ve got to start addressing that on both sides.   That’s something that every elected official has to be willing to start stopping.  I think there’s a real discussion that, if you ever hear someone say that everything’s fine in Madison, I’m going to guess what side they’re on, because only 2 percent of the bills that were brought up by the Democratic Party even made it to the floor to be talked about.  Two percent, that’s not right, that’s not democracy.  Because those bills are not brought up because someone wants to talk about it, it’s brought up because their people have asked them too.  So democracy means all voices, elected officials come from the people, by the people, for the people.  And the question is if that’s actually happening.  And the answer right now, in Wisconsin, is no.

Satellite: Would there be any main steps that you would take, if elected, to fix this gap?

Alfheim: One is that with the gerrymandered maps it’s a difficult thing. Rules should not be written that give an unfair advantage for either party, and we are currently under a set of maps that have been drawn specifically to group blue together in a smaller amount, a 3:1 ratio.  So, this seat is one of the only seats that actually can be flipped.  And I think it makes sense to have a moderate person in a swing district, we have a 50/50 district.  We should have somebody who understands and realizes neither party can be right all the time, and my opponent is very much on one side.  And that’s not who the Fox Valley is.  So, our representation should match who the constituents are, not just who we vote for.

Satellite: Let’s say someone whose door you knocked on mentioned that you are, perhaps, too far in the other direction from their political viewpoints.  What would be your response?

Alfheim: I love that question.  I knock on a lot of doors.  I knock the door and I step back, and when they answer the door I say who I am, what I’m running for.  I let them see me eye-to-eye, and then I ask what’s on their mind.  I want them to tell me.  And it does not matter to me if they are the strongest of Trump supporters, then I will be kind and I will listen to every word they say.  I will be respectful, and we probably will find something that we have in common.  And when we leave, if we are that far apart, I want them to know that I will listen no matter what.  Because if I am elected, then I am elected for everyone, even those I disagree with, and I will answer the phone, no matter what their stance.  That’s what we’re supposed to do.

Kristin Alfheim is a financial advisor and incumbent alderperson on the Appleton City Council. Following her victory in the Democratic Primary unopposed on Aug. 9, she is set to face assemblyperson Rachel Cabral-Guevara for the title of State Senator from the 19th district on Nov. 8, 2022.