Evers, Barnes campaign in the Northwoods
BY EILEEN PERSIKE
Wisconsin Superintendent of Public Instruction and Democratic candidate for governor, Tony Evers made a stop in Rhinelander Friday, speaking before a lunchtime crowd of Northwoods supporters. Joining him was Mandela Barnes, the Democratic nominee for Lieutenant governor.
Barnes told the group inside that they have the chance to elect the “real education governor,” adding that “Tony has dedicated his life to our children, his career to our students and our schools.”
Evers, age 66, has been elected state superintendent three times, in 2009, 2013, and 2017. He won the Democratic primary election last month with 41.8 percent of the vote. Barnes, 31, is a Milwaukee native, served one term in the Wisconsin Assembly and has worked as a community organizer.
Good paying jobs, health care and education are issues the duo say are important in the state.
The bottom line about education, Evers said, is that he wants to make sure all schools, technical colleges, universities, or the K-12 system have the resources that are necessary, and used a recent announcement as an example.
“[University of Wisconsin Stevens Point] is looking at not having majors in the humanities, and heck, everyone knows, and local businesses know that it’s exceedingly important to make sure people have those critical thinking skills, they have the collaboration skills – all the things you learn in the humanities.” Evers said. “That is proposed to go by the wayside in Stevens Point because of funding. We need to change that.”
Asked about the recent change in state mining laws, Evers stated that people who live in the areas affected by mining should have some say in whether it takes place. But also important, he said, is to make sure the natural resource policy is based on science.
“We can’t afford to continue to pit people against each other, Evers said. “We need to have scientists coming in and giving us advice on these things…science plays a role and that goes to the big picture of what our natural resource policy is in the state of Wisconsin. We need to have scientists at the DNR and we need to have an independent DNR.”
Evers also spoke out about a “breathtaking statement” by Walker who said he has never visited a prison in the state and did not plan to.
“We need to have a governor who is not afraid of going to a correctional institution and talking to people and learn from them,” he added. “That’s why Lincoln Hills happened.”
Lincoln Hills School for Boys and Copper Lake School for Girls in Irma have been under criminal investigation for more than three years following accusations of abuse and neglect by staff. Evers criticized Walker, saying the state needs “a governor who’s not afraid to…deal with the tough issues instead of passing it off to the FBI and the Federal Government. Now we’re paying $109 million to a young woman hurt at that institution – that’s abhorrent behavior by the governor.”
He followed up by stating that he would visit Lincoln Hills the first week he is in office.
Evers faces Gov. Scott Walker in November as Walker seeks a fourth term, while Barnes is challenging Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch.