Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin visits UW-Eau Claire

Mandela Barnes spoke to students about the importance of voting

More stories from Alyssa Anderson

Getting Weird
December 13, 2018

Photo by Gabbie Henn

Mandela Barnes, Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, spoke with UW-Eau Claire students in Centennial hall last Tuesday, Oct. 2.

Mandela Barnes, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor of Wisconsin, shared his message about the importance of engaging in politics during his campus visit last week.

Barnes, running mate of Democratic Candidate for Governor Tony Evers, stopped by UW-Eau Claire’s campus Oct. 2 while making his rounds to different Wisconsin colleges in an effort to reach out to young voters.

“We’re here as a part of a bigger college tour to make sure we’re getting young people activated and engaged in this election,” Barnes said. “This is about the future of the state of Wisconsin, and people who are in college are central to that.”

The biggest issues facing college students in Wisconsin, Barnes said, include access to higher education, healthcare and student loan debt — which not only impacts students who will be graduating and students who graduated a long time ago, but the economy as a whole.

“We want to make sure our state is a place that allows innovation, and for students and graduates to be creative and entrepreneurial,” Barnes said. “You can’t take those risks without access to healthcare.”

In order to combat these issues, Barnes said his campaign has already committed to the expansion of Medicaid and to create a public option for Badgercare; Barnes also explained that he wants students to be able to refinance their student loans at a lower rate.

Barnes said his platform is centered around three main concepts: ideas, energy and organizing. To “end Walker’s reign of divide and conquer,” Barnes said it is important to elect strong Democrats into legislature and to connect with local politicians.

In addition to Barnes, Democratic candidate for State Assembly in the 91st district Jodi Emerson and State Senate candidate Jeff Smith were also in attendance. Before speaking, Barnes introduced these two local candidates, urging students to help get them elected. Nothing is possible without the work of local politicians like them, he said.

“Tell your friends about this election,” Barnes said. “We all have to get out and play our part.”

According to his website, Barnes is a Milwaukee native. Though he was raised in a middle-class household, he grew up in the city’s most incarcerated zip code. Having attended both public and private schools, Barnes’ website said education has always been an important issue for him — his top priority is making sure every child has opportunities offered to them.

At 25, Barnes was elected to the State Assembly, beginning his career as one of the top pro-progressive leaders in the country. Barnes has actively been working as an advocate for income equality, criminal justice reform and gun violence prevention. In his run for lieutenant governor, Barnes promises to “make Wisconsin work for the working people.”

“Study the issues. … It’s pretty clear which party is on the side of students and the working people,” Barnes said. “Your (young people’s) success really depends on this election. … This is the election where young people can make the difference. Not only can young people make the difference — they should because their future depends on it.”

Anderson can be contacted at [email protected].