By Karen Stokes
One week before the midterm elections President Barack Obama shared the stage with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke in front of a cheering, energized crowd of approximately 3500 with 300 in an overflow area at North Division High School, 1101 W. Center St. in the central city of Milwaukee.
The president greeted the crowd: “Its good to be in Milwaukee and at North Division High School. Go Blue Devils!” Referring to the North Division team mascot.
“One week from today you get to choose a new governor,” said President Obama. “When you step into the voting booth you have a choice to make. Ask yourself, who is fighting for your future?
Who is gonna make sure there is strong job growth in Wisconsin?”
The choice is important for Democratic candidate Mary Burke and incumbent Republican Governor Scott Walker. The previous Marquette University Law School polls have shown the race has been essentially a “toss up” since last October.
The final Marquette poll out October 29, shows Walker at 50 percent and Burke at 43 percent among likely voters.
The poll also shows among registered voters Walker has 46 percent, Burke 45 percent.
Both candidates are relying heavily on voter turnout.
The event took place in a Milwaukee ward where 99 percent of the population voted for Obama in 2012.
Holding the event at North Division was designed to reach this key democratic population.
Residents waiting to see the president were lined up outside, around the high school for hours. The line went in front of the school and down another city block.
Speaking at the event along with the president and Burke was Susan Happ, Democratic candidate for Attorney General, Mayor Tom Barrett, Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and Congresswoman Gwen Moore.
Moore, a graduate of North Division mentioned that she served as student council president and now she has the opportunity to introduce the president of the United States.
She had a strong message for voters.
“They are saying some of you all ain’t gonna vote,” Moore said.
“This election is not gonna be decided by millionaires, it’s going to be decided by you.”
The crowd was enthusiastic and this enthusiasm needs to translate to votes for Democrats to win on November 4.
Minnie Grayson 70, a Burke supporter said, “I’m looking forward to Mary Burke being our next governor.”
Mary Leivforth 49, a teacher from Chicago who is an Obama supporter said, “I am a teacher and we in Illinois watched Mr. Walker take away bargaining rights from the union.
This was devastating to us. He also is taking what seniors and people with disabilities need by his political agenda on health care.
I have great esteem and deep gratitude that Barack Obama is our president.”
Mary’s daughter lives in Milwaukee and is a volunteer for the Burke campaign.
Raylanda Fleming 36, “Im here to see Obama and to support Mary Burke. My daughter gave me these tickets. A lot of Walker’s political views are wrong. We need to vote Walker out.”
“If you just sit home and complain, nothings going to change, nothing is going to change if you don’t vote,” Obama said. “Don’t let anyone stand in your way.”
The president mentioned that voter ID is not required for this election to vote but needed to register.
“We give away our power all the time,” Obama said. “You have power when you work together. The hardest thing to change is status quo.”
The president talked about cynicism, and how cynicism never cured a disease or never built a business.
“Cynicism is a choice but hope is a better choice,” said Obama.
“Hope is what built America.”
President Obama concluded, “Your vote will decide the course Wisconsin will take. Go out and vote. Go vote for Mary Burke.”
For more information on polling places and voting times or to register to vote in Milwaukee go to city.milwaukee.gov/election
Photos by Robert A. Bell