Group begins petition drive to recall Evers, Barnes

By Brandi Makuski

A formal campaign is underway to recall Gov. Tony Evers, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, and Attorney General Joshua Kaul.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission received filings on Aug. 27 from a Burlington woman to form recall committees seeking to remove Evers and Barnes from office. Kaul also faces a recall challenge in a separate filing on Aug. 26 made by Racine resident William Leverson.

The woman leading the recall charge against Evers and Barnes is Misty R. Polewczynski, who created the Facebook group Recall Evers Petition on Aug. 26, which has garnered more than 52,000 members in just under a week’s time.

Polewczynski now has 60 days to collect 668,327 valid signatures—25 percent of the votes cast for governor in the last general election—from eligible Wisconsin voters to initiate recall elections.

Polewczynski hasn’t responded to the Metro Wire’s request for an interview, but she told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Aug. 28 that, “The citizens of Wisconsin right now feel extremely unsafe…we’re not willing to stand by and watch our cities burn.”

In her filing, Polewczynski wrote that Evers “has proven unfit for office.”

“His negligence and incompetence in all matters pertaining to the duties of governor regarding the health, safety, and economic well-being of the citizens of Wisconsin, the unconstitutional mandates and lockdowns have cost citizens their businesses, homes, jobs, and livelihood,” she wrote among the reasons for the recall attempt. “His tolerance of violence and giving in to irrational demands along with issuances of premature statements has [sic] not only put the safety of the citizens and their property in danger but also placed the lives of law enforcement and the reliability of the justice system in danger.”

To help meet the Oct. 27 deadline, group members across the state have already begun to help circulate petitions. Plover resident Robin Falk said she volunteered to help collect signatures in Portage Co.

“I have to say this is a grassroots effort at its very core. There’s very little central organization for this; you hear about it, you print out some paperwork, you pass along the petition—you don’t need to be registered anywhere, you just go on your own, as long as it gets mailed into the person submitting it, and she gets it in by the date, anyone can do it,” Falk said.

She’s “not a fan” of Evers and didn’t vote for him, but Falk said she decided to get involved in the recall effort after seeing news reports of violent rallies in southern Wisconsin following the Aug. 23 police shooting of Jacob Blake.

“Now that it’s in play, I’m very willing to assist in the recall,” Falk said. “I mean, you can have a difference of opinion with an elected official. But in my case, I was really disgusted by how [Evers] is handling Kenosha, the riots there, and the statements he made, being irresponsible.”

The statements that bothered Falk the most came from Evers’ office the same day that Blake, a black man, was shot by police following a disturbance at a Kenosha home. At press, Blake is reportedly still being treated for his injuries, which include being paralyzed from the waist down.

Evers made the following statement on Aug. 23:

“Tonight, Jacob Blake was shot in the back multiple times, in broad daylight, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Kathy and I join his family, friends, and neighbors in hoping earnestly that he will not succumb to his injuries. While we do not have all of the details yet, what we know for certain is that he is not the first Black man or person to have been shot or injured or mercilessly killed at the hands of individuals in law enforcement in our state or our country.

We stand with all those who have and continue to demand justice, equity, and accountability for Black lives in our country—lives like those of George Floyd, of Breonna Taylor, Tony Robinson, Dontre Hamilton, Ernest Lacy, and Sylville Smith. And we stand against excessive use of force and immediate escalation when engaging with Black Wisconsinites.

I have said all along that although we must offer our empathy, equally important is our action. In the coming days, we will demand just that of elected officials in our state who have failed to recognize the racism in our state and our country for far too long.”

In a televised address that same day, Barnes said, “…let me be clear, this was not an accident. This wasn’t bad police work. This felt like some sort of vendetta being taken out on a member of our community.”

Falk said for her, it was the wrong message at the wrong time.

“I believe the elected in this state need to call for justice. They need to call for cooler heads. The statement that [Evers] put out just seemed to fan the flames and pour gasoline on the fire, and that just played out over the next few days. That’s what personally got me out the door collecting signatures,” she said.

Falk is also collecting signatures to recall Barnes because “they ran as a package.”

A recall petition signing event was held in downtown Stevens Point on Aug. 30 that was advertised only via Facebook. Falk said she believes there have been other recent signing events in Portage Co., held by various individuals.

To help direct interested persons wishing to sign, Falk has set up an email address specifically for those with questions, or who prefer to sign the petition discretely. 

“I think some people are afraid of being judged by others for whatever reason. Maybe they vote in a way their church doesn’t tend to vote. Maybe they feel like they’re swimming upstream,” she said. “People are also being attacked—and I don’t mean just physically, but on social media, it has gotten really wild out there, and people get nervous. There are a lot of different reasons why people would want to hold their political beliefs close to the vest.”

Falk can be reached at recallevers@protonmail.com.

Petition signing events are being scheduled regularly via the Recall Evers Facebook page, but at press two local events have been scheduled this week. They follow:

  • Thursday, Sept. 3, 4:40-6:30 p.m., Mickey T’s (Club 10), 1602 County Rd. HH W, Stevens Point
  • Friday, Sept. 4, 5-7 p.m., next to Walmart, 250 Crossroads Dr., Plover