Wednesday was my last day as a Recall Walker volunteer. Though I am proud to have been a part of this endeavor, I do have guilt about not doing enough. A few hours a week at the office and gathering signatures is so pale in comparison to what some have done – it’s almost invisible.
There are people like who has worked tirelessly, 7 days a week since the recall began. And , who has eaten, slept and lived this movement since day one. And then there’s Mark Balwinski who has probably put more miles on his car than most of us do in a year. When I ask them where they found their motivations, the answers didn’t surprise me.
“The papers reporting thousands of jobs leaving every month; education getting slashed while property taxes go up; the constant lies. Lawmakers breaking their own laws and then making up new ones for those that they can't find a way to get around. I promised the Ironworker Union that I belong to - wherever there was an attack on Working Families, I'd be there,” says Ironworker Randy Bryce.
And Mark Balwinski shares, “I worked so hard on this for a multitude of reasons. Largely because derailing the train robs future generations of opportunities. (Walker's) arrogant ineptitude cost Wisconsin taxpayers over $100 million, and removed opportunities for business growth and development that would have provided thousands of good-paying, family-supporting jobs at a time when we could really use them.”
Compared to these truly dedicated, hard working people, I am a slacker at best. I am not sure how many signatures I have collected. Not tons. But people like Kelly, Mark and Randy are probably responsible for thousands.
Kelly organized the first mobile unit for signature gathering. You could often see her and her loyal team on public sidewalks all over Racine. She also started a Facebook page devoted to organizing Racine recall volunteers. And she could even be spotted driving around in her PJs scouting out bridges for the Overpass Light Brigade. Hundreds of volunteers braved cruddy weather and passionate opposition because they knew that every signature mattered.
“I couldn't tell you how many hours I've put in. I barely can tell you what day it is,” Randy laughs, “I'm at it by 4:30 every morning - going through e-mails and getting info on what's going on. After work, there's always something to do whether it's a labor meeting, getting signatures or treasurer duties.”
But it is all worth it to Randy because as he stated, “Every autograph is like finding a pearl.”
And though the end is closer than it was 90 days ago, there is still some road to tow.
“We've got a long way to go, but I will enjoy the moment on Tuesday when we turn in the petitions and celebrate that part of the journey in Madison at Monona Terrace. But the real celebrating will come when the effort is complete and we have won the election,” says Mark.
Randy is looking forward to celebrating by shutting down his phone and email for a full 24 hours, and he admits, “I’m sure some quiet tears will be involved.”
Yes, I do wish I had given more of my time and energy. I do wish I would have pressed harder to collect signatures. But fact is, I did something. And that is more than I have done in the past. Involvement is a good thing and this was a lesson I needed. So I suppose I can thank Scott Walker and his pals for that.
But most of all I am grateful for these fabulous volunteers who really rocked it, pounded the pavement and made this happen. They have jobs, kids and many other responsibilities. But they sacrificed sleep, relaxation, entertainment and even meals all to help our state regain democracy and decency. My hat is off, my friends…now get some rest!!