Gubernatorial Election 2010: Why should you care?

After months of campaigning, Tom Barrett and Scott Walker have proven to be the most compelling candidates for Wisconsin’s upcoming Gubernatorial Election in November.

In any election, catchy slogans, flashy advertisements, partisanship and even daily affiliations surrounding constituents influence their votes more than the issues at hand. And, like any other election, the personal lives of the candidates sometimes sway voters more than the crucial issues. Citizens tend to base ballots upon the stories or characteristics that make the candidates seem the most reputable, yet relatable. Yes, Tom Barrett did undergo multiple hand surgeries after stepping in to save a grandmother and grandchild from an attacker in West Allis last August. And, yes, Scott Walker gets himself and his brown bagged lunch to work every day in a Saturn with well over 100,000 miles on it.

However, both candidates offer well articulated plans regarding various aspects of Wisconsin’s overall structure. With agriculture, the environment, education, infrastructure, health care and civil rights on both agendas, voters have quite a bit to consider before hitting the polls on November second.

Both Barrett and Walker agree that agriculture is one of the most vital industries in the state, and both propose plans to maintain the vitality of its nature. Barrett proposes the expansion of agrotourism and hopes to initiate an annual loan plan with the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Association that would allot an additional 100,000 dollars to eligible farmers. He also hopes to extend the Dairy Investment Tax Credit until 2012 to ensure that Wisconsin can once again be the highest dairy producing state in the country.

Walker aims to preserve the family centered farms in the state, while looking towards the agricultural future of the state. He hopes to implement such practices by cutting taxes for family farms and focusing on state of the art agricultural technology to help the future of farming and production in Wisconsin.

Because agriculture is such a flourishing industry in the state, biomass technology is being highly considered as a means of alternative energy and bettering the environment in this coming election. A strong focus of Tom Barrett’s campaign is his advocacy for a greener Wisconsin. Barrett proposes furthering biomass technology in Wisconsin to create a more energy efficient. Barrett also proposes ways to protect the state’s lakes, forest preserves and to eliminate the Asian carp population and other current invasive species that are damaging the ecosystem. More specifically, he hopes to end the current propositions to drill and extract oil near the Great Lakes.

Walker also proposes a plan to improve the Wisconsin environment and ecosystems. His “keep the politics out of the woods, and put the deer back in” plan addresses one of the fundamental issues of the deer population in Wisconsin, and making sure that there is a sustainable amount for hunting, yet enough to keep the species alive. He also wants to implement a Natural Resources board that is more responsive to constituents. Above all else, Walkers wants Wisconsin to focus on living within sustainability in all aspects, such as fishing, hunting and energy.

Education has been a fundamental issue in campaigning as well. Tom Barrett hopes to make public K-12 schooling more affordable and more available. He also ensures voters that he will do what he can to make college and any further education more affordable to all residents, while acknowledging that a degree is fundamental for most careers today. Scott Walker focuses on the quality of the current education being offered to Wisconsin residents. He wants to improve the overall literacy in grade schools, as it has been lacking lately in Wisconsin schools. In addition to improving the quality of grade schools, Walker hopes to restructure failing schools by creating new benchmarks for students, staff and administrators to meet. He also wants to make sure that parents have more control over where their children receive their education from by improving the availability of Charter and Chapter schools.

Both Tom Barrett and Scott Walker address some of the more controversial issues that separate citizens. Civil rights and liberties seem to be what divides partisanship more than those regarding the environment or educational reform. In the past, Barrett has voted against certain abortion bans and against bans regarding gay rights. On the other hand, Scott Walker is supported by Pro Life organizations, and he advocates them as well. Another issue separating the two candidates is the question of whether or not medicinal marijuana should be legalized. The issue is currently being dealt with on a state level, as there is no existing federal law. Scott Walker opposes the use of medicinal marijuana, while Barrett is open to its legalization under tight restrictions.

Students can research the other issues and political stances of both Walker and Barrett through local news and various online sources. All residents of age should take the time to vote because the elected candidate will be the executive decision maker when it comes to issues that pertain to all Wisconsin constituents.

Parkside Student Government recognizes the importance of the upcoming election and has taken initiative in mobilizing the votes. PSG will be registering students to vote. In order to register, each student must provide a valid state ID or drivers license Students can also register neighboring locations, such as the Somers Police station, or on websites such as The voter registration deadline is October 13th.

“Following October 13th, our efforts will focus on educating students about the candidates. United Council has prepared voter guides that have candidates’ answers to survey questions about issues in higher education,” said PSG Vice President Dana Calamia.

Omega Delta Phi, Residence Hall Association, Parkside Activities Board and Black Student Union are just some of the other organizations that are aiding students to learn more about the candidates and vote. Any other students with an interest in politics, or who are curious to learn more can easily get involved.

“We are still looking for any other students or organizations that are willing to volunteer,” Calamia said. “They can contact Brett McNeil.”

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