Youth bring perspective to lobbying effortMadison was an exciting place to be this week, according to Superior Days youth delegates.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
Madison was an exciting place to be this week, according to Superior Days youth delegates.
“I don’t know how they’re going to top this next year,” Amanda Tesarek, a Superior High School junior, said Wednesday.
The young people saw Jesse Jackson, listened to chanting crowds and found themselves in Madison as it took the media spotlight.
“I’m so happy to be here during this,” said Robert Blair, a senior from Northwestern High School. “We’re sitting and watching [history] being made.”
He admitted he was initially “freaked out” about making the trip to the Capitol to lobby for Northwest Wisconsin issues in the midst of protests over Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill.
“But when I was experiencing it and stuff, I got the goose bumps right away and it just seemed really cool to see what was actually going on,” Blair said. “And the people are actually fighting for what they feel it’s right.”
“When you walked through the capitol you could just literally feel the energy of these people and if whether you agree with them or not, you can’t really deny that they’re participating in democracy,” she said. “That’s what it’s about is just getting your voice heard in any way that you can.”
Katie Stenroos, a SHS student, said she appreciated being able to experience the moment for herself, instead of listening to it on the news.
“It’s like a whole other view to it,” she said.
“It’s like, ‘I was there. I saw that,” said Reba Buczynski, a senior at SHS.
College students, too, were excited to be in Madison.
“I’m embracing this entire experience,” said Hanna Durfee, a freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, Tuesday.
It wasn’t her first trip to the Capitol. Both she and UWS student Graham Garfield traveled to Madison last week along with thousands of protestors.
“I was here at the time the Democratic senators walked out for Illinois,” Garfield said. “The energy of these people was amazing.” When they learned the 14 Democratic senators had left the state, he said, a wave of positive energy rolled through.
“A huge cheer went up and they started chanting ‘Thank you,’” Garfield said. “It was wonderful to be part of it.”
Delegates weren’t the only ones in Superior this week. A busload of protestors bused to Madison on Tuesday to add their voices to the crowd, among them teachers from Superior, Solon Springs and Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College.
“I came down because, as a social studies teacher I’ve taught that Democracy takes time, and it’s about compromise and in the end you get the best decisions, and that’s not what is happening down here,” said Tate Haglund-Pagel, an SHS teacher. “So by us being here we’re trying to put the brakes on the process so the best decisions can be made.”
SHS teacher Lynn Krause said she was marching not only for herself.
“It’s about the kids,” she said. “It’s about the future and their freedom and their rights,” she said.
Youth delegates said they were disappointed when Walker did not show up for a planned Wednesday morning speech to the Superior Days delegates.
“Personal beliefs aside, I was just excited to hear what he had to say,” Tesarek said.
They were also sorry they missed Sen. Bob Jauch, D-Poplar, one of the 14 senators who left the state.
But the young people feel their lobbying efforts made a difference this year.
“Just getting to think about things that could be fixed and starting to build a new reputation with the new (legislators), I think it was huge,” Blair said.
Most lobbyists in the Capitol get paid to talk to Legislators, the youth said. Their grassroots effort sets them apart.
“It’s nice to be part of a citizen lobby group and actually talking to people rather than being paid to do it,” Buczynski said.