Kim Smith doesn’t necessarily have deep policy disagreements with longtime state Rep. Sondy Pope, D-Mt. Horeb.
But she believes there should be a more diverse slate of candidates running for the Legislature amid the ongoing discussion in the country over race relations and police policies.
Pope agrees diversity is needed in the Legislature. But she takes issue with her challenger suggesting there’s complacency with Dems in office, saying the caucus has been working on social justice issues for some time.
The two face off tomorrow in the heavily blue 80th AD southwest of Madison with few differences on issues such as accepting federal money to expand Medicaid or support for the guv’s call to overhaul police policies.
Pope said she wouldn’t want a one-size-fits all approach funding for police agencies, adding such decisions should be made at the local level. Smith said she wants police departments to be funded adequately while ensuring funding for mental health and drug abuse, for example.
Smith hadn’t looked at bills to expand background checks or a so-called “red-flag” law, saying she’d want to look at the details to make sure they wouldn’t inadvertently impact the Black community negatively. Pope called the bills common sense.
Smith, daughter of a Black father and white mother, said people of color aren’t seeing their “white allies” do them justice, prompting her run.
“There’s a lot of complacency,” Smith said. “I think there should be more people next to me running against Sondy. But people seem complacent. As long as there’s a Democrat there, they’re going to be doing the job and advocating for us.”
Pope said the Dems in office have been active on those issues.
“Yes, there’s lots of room for reform in social justice and our corrections system,” Pope said. “We have been working on it, and I have been part of that and will continue to be so.”
Listen to the Pope interview:
Listen to the Smith interview: