Thursday, February 13, 2014

Text of Mary Burke's speech to Dane County Democrats

Candidate for governor comes out swinging for minimum wage increase, restoration of funds for education, and relevant job growth for the state

Democratic candidate for governor Mary Burke spoke at the Dane County Dems meeting last night. Below is a transcript of what she said. It was a very inspiring speech, and very progressive-leaning. It should cause many skeptics to reconsider their doubt of the candidate, and to support Burke in her quest to unseat Gov. Scott Walker.

Well thank you. It is my pleasure to be here and I appreciate you coming out on a cold night, although it seems almost balmy today for Wisconsin. (Laughter) I’m just going to take a little time to tell you who I am, what I believe in, and why I’m running.

Why I’m running is pretty simple: I love Wisconsin. We’re a great state, we have great people, and we have incredible potential. And we deserve a lot better. (Applause)

We deserve a better economy with more good paying jobs. If you look right next door in Minnesota, they’ve gotten back all of the jobs that they lost in 2008, and more. And yet, we’re still clawing our way back. We’re growing our economy at a rate that’s half the national average. So we deserve a better economy and more jobs.

We deserve a stronger commitment to public education. (Applause) All of us here know how important our K12 system, our technical college system, and our universities are. They are the fabric of our communities, and they are the foundation of our economy.

And we deserve better leadership. We deserve leadership that brings us together because that’s how we do our best work, and leadership that puts problem-solving ahead of the politics. I am deeply concerned about the direction that we’re headed, and I’m afraid if we have four more years of this partisan, divisive, politics-first type of leadership, I’m not going to recognize the state that I know and I love so deeply.

I’m a fourth-generation Wisconsinite. My great-grandparents were farmers. My grandfather was a mailman, and in fact 50 years ago he delivered the mail to the house that I live in today. My mom was the first in her family to go to college, and my dad started a business in a barn in Waterloo, Wisconsin: Trek Bicycles, which has become an international success. I’m really proud of the role that I played in Trek’s success. I have a 30-year track record of bringing people together to solve problems.

After graduating from college, I earned my MBA. I then started my own business. I then joined Trek Bicycle. My dad used to joke that he’d hire his kids because we’d work twice as hard and he’d pay us half as much. (Laughter) The only problem was that it wasn’t just a joke with him, that’s what he did! (Laughter)

The division that I ran at Trek, we increased sales from $3 million to over $50 million in a few short years. That was selling great Wisconsin products all over the world, which meant more good-paying jobs right here in Wisconsin.

After I left Trek, I led the Wisconsin Department of Commerce. We helped small businesses grow, helped entrepreneurs get started, and we stepped in when there were companies that were in trouble that would have affected the entire community.

One day I got a call from Park Falls. I was told the mill was closing, and anyone here who’s been to Park Falls knows what 300 jobs in the mill would do if they were lost. It was not only 300 families that would be affected, it was the city of Park Falls and that whole region.

So I brought together local business people, our city and county officials, people from the mill, our Commerce staff, and I said, ‘Let’s hammer out a plan that’s going to get that mill back up and running.’ And you know what? We did. (Applause)

That was seven years ago, and this summer I was driving through Park Falls, and I looked over at the mill, and I saw smoke coming out of the smoke stack, and it hit me pretty hard. Because I knew that those were 300 people that have been able to support their families, and make ends meet, because of the good work that we did when we brought people together to solve problems.

That’s the way we have to address the issues that we are facing here in Wisconsin. You know, when I was Commerce Secretary, we had tens of thousands of more jobs in Wisconsin than we have today. But we have a governor who is more concerned with advancing his own career than he is with putting people back to work. (Applause)

And he’s more concerned with destroying public education than with improving it. (Applause) After I left the Department of Commerce, I founded an education program. This was to open doors for teens for low-income families so that they would be able to graduate and go to college, many of them the first in their families to do that.

We now have over 650 teens in this program across all four Madison high schools, we’ve had our first graduating class in June, it was 85 students, and 92 percent of them entered college in the fall. (Applause) They were successful because they worked hard, they had people in the schools who believed in them, and we brought people together to provide the types of supports to overcome their barriers.

When we come together, we do our best work, and we can overcome the challenges. I call it the Wisconsin way.

I know what it takes to create jobs and I know how to improve education, and that’s how we’re going to get Wisconsin on the path to prosperity. As governor, I am going to fight every single day for what matters most to the people of Wisconsin, and put the common sense solutions ahead of the divisive politics and the special interests.

As governor, I will work to ensure women’s freedom to make their own health care choices (Applause) and to ensure all people’s freedom to marry who they choose. (Applause)

I will work to restore collective bargaining rights for our public sector employees (Applause) along with the respect they deserve for the job that they do every day. (Applause)

I will work to roll back the statewide voucher expansion and to hold all schools accountable. (Applause)

I will work to protect our natural resources, including our air and water, and not let mining companies write our environmental regulations. (Applause)

I will work to raise the minimum wage so people who work hard can support themselves. (Applause)

And I will work to ensure every child has access to quality, affordable, public education, and that our schools have the funding to thrive. (Applause)

There is a lot of work to do. But if we stand together, we can bring back the pride that we all feel so deeply in Wisconsin. I would not have gotten into this race if I did not have a game plan for winning. I know it won’t be easy, but I have put together a team that knows how to win. I’ve committed to raising the money that will be needed to win, and I know the people of Wisconsin who want a change in leadership are ready to work hard.

But we should not underestimate what it is going to take. Walker’s game plan is to raise tens of millions of dollars from out-of-state billionaires and to buy this governorship. They will throw at me every lie and every dirty trick in the book. But the tougher they get, the tougher I get. (Applause)

But I need each and every one of you to stand tough with me. It means boots on the ground to have the best non-presidential turnout year ever. (Applause) And it means every person who believes we need a change in leadership contributing what they can. That is more powerful than even the richest of Walker’s supporters. A hundred thousand people, each donating $10 a month from now until November, means $10 million. (Applause)

So I ask you tonight to go home, to go to, and sign up to do $10 per month -- or more if you can (Laughter) -- and then send emails to everyone you know, and get ten more people to sign up. Challenge your friends, your family, your coworkers to do the same. $10 a month is all it’s going to take.

The future of Wisconsin is at stake. This is a battle. It’s between those that believe that the goal is big corporate profits versus those that believe that the goal is a strong, growing middle class. Let’s show them who’s right. Thank you. (Applause)

1 comment:

  1. As a Burke skeptic, I was pleasantly surprised by this speech. She does themes like this, and she will do VERY well.

    Now she needs to get on the air and make sure the right-wing lie machine isn't allowed to define her.