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Andy Gronik Holds Kitchen Table Conversations Across Wisconsin PDF Print E-mail
Elections, Elected Officials, Political Parties
Written by Andy Gronik Press Office, Brandon Weathersby   
Wednesday, 21 March 2018 16:28

andy-gronik-coffeeResidents in Green Bay and Wausau share their stories and contribute their vision for the state.

MILWAUKEE - The divide and conquer tactics of the last seven years have made it harder for Wisconsinites to have real conversations about the issues they face in their communities each day. It’s time for a different approach and fresh leadership that encourages real conversations about the struggles and successes Wisconsinites endure each day. Last weekend, Wisconsin residents gathered in Green Bay and Wausau for Kitchen Table conversations hosted by Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Andy Gronik, to discuss the issues that matter the most to them. Wisconsin residents sent a message loud and clear that government isn’t listening to them and it’s time for a change in leadership.

Green Bay residents sent a message loud and clear that the powers that be in Madison have abandoned Wisconsin’s culture of good-paying jobs, great public schools, clean environment, and healthy communities. “The powers that be are destroying Wisconsin culture,” said one long-time Green Bay resident, immediately identifying the attacks on local control, lack of support for public education, and destruction of the state’s natural resources as evidence of the rapid departure of things that have always made Wisconsin a great place to live, work, and play. Residents identified city’s public transportation infrastructure and local roads as areas where Green Bay could use support from their leaders in Madison.

fox-river-gbLong-time Green Bay residents pointed to the cleaning of the Fox River, the largest river clean-up of its kind in U.S. history currently in its ninth consecutive year of cleaning, as a major catalyst for the success the city enjoys today. TitletownTech, a one-of-a-kind partnership between the Green Bay Packers and Microsoft, is another bright spot that has people in the Green Bay area excited about the future. TitletownTech is the opposite of Governor Scott Walker’s Foxconn Hail Mary. TitletownTech aims to boost economic expansion in the region by helping the area’s emerging and existing businesses create new digital products, enhance their business operations, and provide capital for new ventures.

“Ultimately people, especially young people, want to settle down in a place that is a place to live in. It’s not just about the job opportunities, but it’s also about the amenities and the community overall,” said a Green Bay resident of five-years. Participants also pointed to walkable neighborhoods, bike trails, park systems, and the developments at the Bay Beach Amusement Park as attractive amenities for the area.

In Wausau, the discussion centered around immigration rights and valuing our immigrant communities in Wisconsin were participants identified many issues with the narrative around immigrant rights and advocated for solutions to the problems the immigrant community faces each day.

wausau-400blockWausau participants highlighted the need for undocumented immigrants to have drivers licenses as the State of Wisconsin does not currently allow undocumented immigrants to do so. “Right now, undocumented immigrants can’t get a driver’s license and it’s almost like they are considered ‘non-persons’ as a result,” said a Wausau immigration rights advocate. “The lack of identification contributes to the narrative that immigrants are ‘criminals’ or ‘illegal persons’ that’s just not right. These are people who work and live in our state.”

A large part of the conversation on immigrant rights circled around the need to educate Wisconsin about the issue. “Rural Wisconsin has no idea how their Representatives are voting on issues affecting immigrants and they have no idea how those votes are affecting their communities. 500 dairy farms have shut down their operations as a result of these votes. There needs to be more education,” said a Wausau resident working with central Wisconsin’s immigrant community.

A fundamental lack of fairness in how Wisconsin’s immigrant population are treated surfaced as a major barrier to the community as well. “Whether it’s access to affordable housing, or being paid a living wage, it’s important to give immigrants what they need to be empowered to advocate for themselves,” said another participant. “On the issue of wages, a lot of immigrants’ dollars go back home to take care of their family -- which leaves very little money for savings or anything else.”

Participants looked to practices in agriculture as an example of the unfair treatment immigrants receive. Currently, undocumented immigrants working on farms aren’t protected by the state’s work rules. Therefore excluding them from rules that would ensure they receive workers compensation and paid overtime. “The Department of Workforce Development’s rules are truly archaic and need to be updated to reflect the reality undocumented immigrants face,” said a participant.

andy-gronik“Before I announced my campaign for Governor, I spent 18 months traveling the state talking to Wisconsin families at coffee shops and what I heard was that people don’t think the government, or their leaders in Madison, are listening to them,” gubernatorial candidate Andy Gronik said on Wednesday. “After listening to residents in Wausau and Green Bay, I’m convinced that the time is now for more conversations in our state because that is how we’ll get the best ideas to make life better for everyone. From job creation to immigration reform I’m focused on delivering for the people of Wisconsin as their next Governor.”


You can watch the Green Bay Kitchen Table Conversation in full here.
You can watch the Wausau Kitchen Table Conversation in full here.

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