ROCK SPRINGS – Yana Ludwig says she will formally file her candidacy for the Wyoming Senate seat in May. She is seeking the seat of U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., who is retiring.
She came to Wyoming from Rutledge, Missouri. She previously lived in the ranching and horseback community of Bemidji, Minnesota. Her educational background includes Carleton College and Eastern Michigan University for her interdisciplinary bachelor’s degree. She is an award-winning author of the book “Together Resilient: Building Community in the Age of Climate Disruption” and a guest speaker at Tedx Talks. Her memberships include Laramie’s Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and Solidarity House Cooperative. Her love for organic gardening, backpacking, and hunting influences her beliefs and ideals that she vows to push for during the election.
While speaking, Ludwig fills the conversation with her vibrant personality -- making jokes when needed, being passionate about her beliefs, and ending with appreciation for an open conversation. She constantly notes how refreshing it is talking to Wyomingites and how receptive people are to her campaign.
The obvious topics that come up in conversation include the minimum wage, pay gap, bringing jobs to Wyoming, health care and immigration policy. Detailing her stances, she wants to increase minimum wage, bring different types of employment to Wyoming, and make borders open.
At the moment, Wyoming is one of two states with the lowest minimum wage in the country and 39th in the country for the gender pay gap. According to the Living Wage Calculator from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which lists the amount individuals must earn to support themselves and their families, Sweetwater County needs to set the minimum wage at $11.07 for one adult with no children -- $3.82 more than the federal minimum wage and $5.92 more than the state minimum wage.
Ludwig believes the underlying problem is top wages being so high. She would like to link the ratio between the salary of the CEO and lowest paid people in the company. To raise CEO salaries, they would need to increase the pay for everyone else.
Ludwig believes that the pay gap increases codependent relationships. This is due to women, especially single mothers, having to rely on men, resulting in unhealthy relationships.
She would like to bring more jobs to Wyoming and diversify the economy. She believes that every county caucus should include a discussion on what jobs they would like to attract. With state and national backing, she wants to bring more jobs to the Cowboy State and fill them with Wyoming residents and not pull workers from other states. Ludwig would like to encourage strong unions and said “unions tend to be good about pay equity.”
She believes that land management is a huge asset to bringing more agricultural jobs. She added legalizing marijuana would benefit Wyoming. Nearly 90% of Wyoming residents want medical marijuana to be legal, she said, and growing marijuana in Wyoming would create jobs, decrease addictions, and produce commercial hemp. Ludwig would also decriminalize marijuana, release people convicted of marijuana-related crimes and wipe their record of related offenses.
She also believes in universal health care. Ludwig said this would reduce expenses for hospitals and practitioners. They would be able to take out their accounts receivable people who have to fight with insurance companies and patients to get bills paid. She said would be a “great boom” for Wyoming and its rural hospitals.
She believes that maternal health care needs to be fully covered, including abortion and birth control, under Medicare for All. She said this is fundamental to mothers enjoying stable income and deciding how many children to have. Ludwig said she has seen free birth control work in states such as Colorado and lead to the abortion rate significantly dropping.
When it comes to her views on gun control, Ludwig said she grew up in a hunting and fishing family and has a “deep respect for hunting culture.” In her opinion, guns should not be taken away across the board. She described herself as “pretty pro-Second Amendment.” In her research, over half the people involved in school and mass shootings have domestic violence charges on their records. She said those convicted with domestic violence should not be allowed to have guns.
“(We have a) widespread cultural issue of using violence as a problem solving tool,” she said. “There is no sense of gun control until we have a handle on what is driving the violence.”
As the conversation went on, Ludwig talked about ways she would enforce her policies. She really wants to get down to the nitty-gritty about the issues. The underlying issues of her campaign topics are of the upmost importance to her.