Opinion

Cardinal View: Evers is best choice for next governor

Image By: Laura Mahoney

There is little glamour to the governorship of a state — at least here in the Midwest. Many people see the position of governor as someone who appears on TV every once in a while to unveil grandiose plans that never seem to happen, or as someone who provides leadership only in times of trouble, such as during natural disasters.

Gubernatorial races don’t receive the same amount of attention that national elections do even from populations that are likely to vote, let alone from young people.

This attitude could not be more misguided. In voting for governor every four years, Wisconsinites have the privilege of choosing which direction the state should go in for the next four years, and whose leadership should take it there. And while every election has its consequences, the Daily Cardinal Editorial Board believes that this election holds a particularly high level of importance. 

The reign of Scott Walker has been much like a Wisconsin highway: long and fraught with potholes that don’t appear to be getting fixed anytime soon. The governor has had eight years to make his vision for Wisconsin a reality but has little to show for it. For the following reasons, the Editorial Board believes that Tony Evers has the best chance of restoring Wisconsin’s reputation of being a state where everyone has a chance to succeed.

Teacher, principal, state superintendent of schools: these are all jobs currently or formerly held by Tony Evers, and yet the debate rages on about which candidate can call themselves the real “education governor.” In contrast, Scott Walker enacted Act 10 in 2011, a law that curtailed the collective bargaining rights of teachers (and other public sector workers) regarding their salary and benefits. This was met with massive protests in Madison’s Capitol Rotunda, but earned Walker celebrity status among Republicans in the state and nationally. However, studies have shown that after Act 10, teacher salaries fell, while the percentage of working teachers with less than five years of experience increased dramatically.
In addition, statistics from the Wisconsin Student Assessment System continue to show that less than half of students in third through eighth grade have achieved proficiency in English, math and science. And although Walker has promised to freeze UW System tuition for another four years if re-elected, the state budget for 2015-17 also included a $250 million dollar hit to the UW System. There is widespread frustration with the state of education in Wisconsin, from parents of elementary school children to college students at smaller UW System schools like UW-Stevens Point, which is in danger of losing 13 academic majors in the humanities due to declining enrollment.

Improving education statewide is not a problem that can be solved overnight, nor can it be solved solely through greater funding. But Tony Evers has dedicated his entire life to providing a quality education to Wisconsin’s youth — and that is the kind of experience we need in a governor in order to get back on track.

This gubernatorial campaign cycle has been dominated by conversations about education and for good reason. Both Walker and Evers try to engage students through talking points on college debt and accessibility, but students are not just learning machines. Young people are passionate about a wide range of social justice issues, from women’s health to LGBTQ rights. Evers’ progressive background does more than make him appealing to voters under thirty: it makes him the candidate of the many, not the few. 

Making Wisconsin more inclusive and diverse makes our state more welcoming to others, which has all-around benefits. Evers has made it especially clear that in order for Wisconsin to succeed, racial inequalities in the state must be addressed. His platform includes widespread reforms to the horribly unjust criminal justice system, making diverse appointments to state boards and agencies and providing more funds to the state’s public education system in order to address this.

It is also worth noting that his running mate Mandela Barnes would be the state’s first African-American lieutenant governor and the second African-American person to hold a statewide office in Wisconsin. Barnes’ upbringing in Milwaukee is an opportunity to engage voters that might otherwise sit out non-presidential elections, as well as show that state governance is accessible to people other than so-called “Madison elite.” Walker, on the other hand, demonstrates his indifference and disinterest toward these groups by failing to mention racial justice, women’s issues or LGBTQ rights on his re-election website.

Every governor in every state has one goal in common: to attract students and wage-earners to their state and to create reasons for students to remain in-state after they graduate rather than pursuing jobs in other places. Efficient public transportation systems and good driving conditions attract workers and new businesses to the state, and both candidates have campaigned heavily on the issue of transportation infrastructure. In 2017, US News and World Report ranked Wisconsin’s road conditions 44th in the country. Evers says on his website that he is willing to hear solutions from both sides of the aisle on this issue, while Walker is not: “There are bipartisan long-term solutions for Wisconsin’s transportation system; however, Scott Walker hasn’t shown the political will to get it done.” 

Evers’ position on the issue of Wisconsin’s abysmal infrastructure reflects his broader commitment to solution oriented approaches. Rather than stall progress by hiding behind party lines, Tony Evers is the only candidate to recognize that it will take bipartisan cooperation in order to find solutions to some of Wisconsin’s largest challenges. He has a record of leadership and experience that will make our state more prosperous for everyone, not just the top 10 percent. 

As students and citizens of the great state of Wisconsin, he has more than earned our vote. Election day is November 6th, and the stakes have never been higher for our state.

Do you plan on voting in the 2018 gubernatorial election? Which candidate has your support? Send all questions and comments to opinion@dailycardinal.com.

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