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As the Democratic primary heats up, Tony Evers speaks to students on campus

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tony Evers talked to students about issues facing them at Coffee Bytes on Tuesday, as a part of the College Democrats’ new event series Coffee with Candidates.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

Democratic candidate for governor and state Superintendent Tony Evers spoke with students as the sun set at Coffee Bytes on East Campus Mall on Tuesday.

Hosted by the College Democrats, chair Brianna Koerth introduced Evers as he shook hands with every student for the first installment of the group’s Coffee with Candidates event.

Evers began the evening by introducing himself and criticizing policy changes he has watched unfold during Gov. Scott Walker’s administration in order to set up his platform for his campaign for governor.

A graduate of UW-Madison, Evers received his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree in educational administration before beginning to teach, moving up the educational ladder before being elected to his current position, which he has held since 2009.

Arguing that UW-Madison is the economic driver of the state, Evers said he is adamant about reaching out to the community in order to protect the interests of students and faculty alike.

“We have professors who are leaving, and especially when they are researchers they take their money with them. Economic development is driven by how much research is done and how prepared you are on this campus,” Evers said. “The balance of the University of Wisconsin is at stake.”

Evers additionally supports creating legislation that would pay for half of the tuition costs for in-state students at community colleges, stating that he believes students must invest in their own education, but he wants to make it easier.

A new poll showed that 66 percent of voters do not know enough about Evers to have an opinion — and name recognition is arguably one of the biggest factors holding back candidates from beating out Walker in his reelection campaign. However, Evers said this is not a concern, as he plans to spend the next months before the primary election traveling across Wisconsin and airing television advertisements.

As the only current Democratic candidate to have ever won a statewide election, Evers said he feels confident in his ability to drive the current polling numbers up and compete with Walker’s well-financed campaign.

Drawing further distinctions between himself and Walker, Evers took a strong opposition to the Foxconn deal.

“I think it was a mistake. Bottom line. If you take that 4.5 billion dollars and divide it by 72 counties, it comes to 55 million dollars per county which could be used for early childhood care, building affordable housing in the north and creating better paying jobs than Foxconn ever will, spreading all across Wisconsin,” Evers said. “That is why it was such a mistake by the governor. It is an obligation we cannot get out of.”

He said his goal as governor would be to ensure that Foxconn becomes the best employer in Wisconsin, with well paid jobs, medical benefits and improved transportation systems to bring in workers from larger cities like Milwaukee to the rural warehouse in Racine County.

Additionally, Evers stated an interest in rebuilding the middle class, protecting natural resources, removing restrictions on voter laws, legalizing medical marijuana use and restricting access to machine guns.

“The last thing I am going to do is that the people I appoint are not going to be jackasses. They are not going to be bad people,” Evers said. “The person who is going to be the head of the transportation department is going to be a mechanical engineer, somebody who knows about roads. They cannot be political hacks; they have to be experts in the field to send the message to workers that we have leaders that know what the heck they are doing.”

With Evers as their first guest, Koerth said that the College Democrats are planning to host more Coffee with Candidates events in the future.

“We want to make sure that we are centering this election on students, because we are who are often forgotten,” Koerth said. “The best way to get involved is to start by voting. It makes you a part of the progress, especially for those who are very angry about issues like gun violence. The way to combat that is to vote for candidates who stand with you on certain issues.”

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