A conversation with Kathleen Falk

A week ago today I had the opportunity to have a conversation with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Falk, who’s been making the rounds of the liberal half of the Cheddarsphere.

I’ve interviewed a number of candidates and elected officials during my time here on the intertubes, but my interview with Kathleen Falk was unique because it was less an interview and more a true conversation. After our initial pleasantries, Falk started the conversation with a few questions of her own, asking what I felt she could be doing differently/better as a candidate and encouraging me to give her any honest feedback I had regarding her campaign or candidacy. As someone who’s still on the fence about Falk’s candidacy, I did give her my honest and unvarnished feedback (as well as my concerns) regarding her campaign.

Once I had finished sharing my thoughts I asked Falk just one question: Why did she feel she was the best Democrat to beat Republican Gov. Scott Walker in a recall election? Falk immediately cited her executive experience as the Dane County Executive, saying she had the experience to “do the job” as governor from day one in office. Falk went on to note she has more executive experience than Scott Walker when he was elected governor, but she was quick to point out that unlike Walker, she actually tried to govern by bringing people together, rather than trying to divide them, which is a hallmark of Scott Walker’s tenures as governor and Milwaukee County executive.

Beyond her experience as Dane County executive, Falk talked about her personal background and her experiences during the past year as giving her a good sense of how Wisconsinites not only differ, but also what our shared values are, and she indicated that she’d work as governor to highlight those shared values to try to resolve our differences.

After Falk answered my question, our conversation became pretty free-flowing, but Falk did say that she pledged to veto any state budget that does not restore collective bargaining rights for public employees because she felt the citizens of Wisconsin deserved the honesty they have not gotten from Gov. Walker. Falk rightly noted that despite some talk that collective bargaining could possibly be restored by executive order, the only way collective bargaining could be restored is by an act of the Legislature. Falk made it clear her pledge to veto any budget that did not restore collective bargaining for public employees was not a political gimmick, but rather it came about of a desire to be open and honest with voters.

My conversation with Kathleen Falk was by no means an extensive interview; as I wrote earlier it was more of a free-flowing conversation, but I will say that my conversation with Falk did allay some of my concerns regarding her candidacy. Falk’s honesty, curiosity, and willingness to accept criticism certainly sets her apart from most elected officials I’ve talked to, and while I’m definitely less apprehensive than I was before talking to her, I’m still on the fence when it comes to making a decision on which Democratic candidate I’ll support in the primary.